Digambara Saamiyar 1950

great performances Digambara Saamiyar  

M. N. Nambiar, P. V. Narasimha Bharathi, D. Balasubramaniam, M. G. Chakrapani, V. K. Ramasami, M. S. Draupadhi, C. K. Saraswathi, Lakshmiprabha, Dhanalakshmi, T. K. Ramachandran, V. M. Ezhumalai, A. Karunanidhi, Alwar Kuppusami and Kumari Kamala

During the early decades of the 20th Century, detective fiction was popular in Tamil. The writers who dominated this genre were J. R. Rangaraju, Arani Kuppuswami Mudaliar, Vy. Mu. Kothainayaki Ammal and Vaduvoor K. Duraiswami Iyengar, who was the most successful of them all. His detective novels, running into several volumes, were bestsellers in those days.

One of his successful novels was “Digambara Saamiyar”. It is all about a crooked advocate in Kumbakonam who is keen on getting Vadivambal (Draupadi) married to his useless brother (T. K. Ramachandran). The lawyer is a master at cutting corners, and a person in saintly robes known as Digambara Saamiyar (Nambiar) is out to expose him. He appears in various disguises and succeeds in his attempt after the story takes several twists and turns.

Draupadi, who was associated with the famous theatre troupe TKS Brothers, played the heroine in love with a handsome man (Narasimha Bharathi). Balasubramaniam, a character actor, was excellent as the crooked advocate. He was one of the few actors in those days who knew the secret of underplaying a role.

The novel is based on a theory that if a man is made to stay awake without sleep for three or four days, he will be in a mood to confess everything hidden in his mind! This theory has been used to great effect in the film. To keep the lawyer awake, song and dance sequences featuring Lalitha-Padmini and Kumari Kamala were introduced.

Nambiar in several disguises was superb. Lakshmiprabha as a Devadasi created a sensation in a song sequence where she is shown changing clothes (of course, behind a screen)! (She sings ‘Podi ….poyendi… eduthuva… sikkiram … ayya varum neram aachu…’). Music was a plus point in the film (G. Ramanathan-S. M. Subbaiah Naidu with lyrics by Marudhakasi-Ka. Mu. Sherif- K. P. Kamakshi-Thanjai Ramaiah Das, and a comparative newcomer named Kannadasan). Many songs became popular such as the Diwali duet between a young girl and her grandfather, ‘Oosi pattasey’ (a straight lift from a popular Hindi tune ‘O...dilwalo!’), ‘Anna oru paithiyamma’ and ‘Parudappa parudappa parudappa’ (a straight lift from the Hindi hit of its day, ‘Laraa lappa laraa...lappa…. in Ek Thi Ladki.) Kumari Kamala danced to the well known song, ‘Natharmudi mellirukkum’. The film was produced and directed by T. R. Sundaram for his Modern Theatres. Digambara Saamiyar was a hit and has been revived on television in recent years.

Remembered for Nambiar’s brilliant performance and the songs, ‘Oosi pattasey’ proving a major hit.