K. Sarangapani, K. R. Chellam, Nagercoil K. Mahadevan, R. Padma, M. K. Meenalochani and Rallabandi Natesam
Inspired by the success of Sabapathy, AV. Meiyappan launched another comedy En Manaivi (1942). Based on a Marathi story, it was an interesting situation comedy, a teasing tale of suspicious wives, well-meaning husbands, rich playboys and their dolls, and the resulting problems. The director, Sundar Rao Nadkarni, a Mangalorean by birth, who had begun his career as an actor in silent cinema in Bangalore with Surya Films, graduated to become a cinematographer, editor, director and producer. He lived his formative years in Bombay which enabled him to dig deep into Marathi theatre and cinema. One such effort led to the making of En Manaivi .
Nagercoil K. Mahadevan, K. Sarangapani, M. K. Meenalochani and K. R. Chellam played the lead roles. Mahadevan was a trained Carnatic musician and well known for playing the role of Sage Narada in several Tamil films. Indeed he was known as ‘Naradar’ Mahadevan! However, in En Manaivi, he played a smartly dressed, handsome playboy. (When the movie was televised in recent years, many film critics asked this writer who the handsome Bombay actor was!). K. R. Chellam, a fine character actor, and K. Sarangapani appeared as a successful comedy pair in many films. Natesam, a violinist and stage actor from Nellore, played the role of a music-crazy cook who spends his spare hours singing and playing the violin, dreaming of becoming a Bhagavathar and performing over All India Radio! A song rendered by him, “Sangadamaana samaiyalai vittu, sangeetham paada poren…”, became popular.
(In an audio cassette featuring songs of N. S. Krishnan-T. A. Mathuram, this song was included and credited to NSK who had nothing to do either with this film or the song!)
En Manaivi fared well and a song about the marvels of science such as radio became popular. In the decades gone by on the Madras High Court Beach (it disappeared during the 1950s due to the expansion of the Madras Port) near the waters, was a metal pole with loudspeakers atop blaring radio programmes during the evening hours. Naïve, rustic folks wondered where the music was coming from! The magic post? The film song referred to it as “Sayangala nerathiley samudrakarai orathiley maayamana kambam onnu manushan pola paduthaiah!” (During the evening, a magic pole by the seashore sings like a man!) (voice: ‘Lux Beauty’ R. Padma; lyrics: T. K. Sundara Vaadhiyar; and music: R. Sudharsanam).
This film had location shots of the rajagopuram of the Mylapore Kapaaleeswarar Temple which thrilled devotees and many in cinema houses stood up and slapped their cheeks in ‘Bhakthi’!
The Second World War... the threat of Japanese bombing and the invasion of Madras... the sound and the fury of the Quit India Movement… perhaps not a conducive situation for filmmaking. Undaunted by what was happening around him, Meiyappan rode ahead. By now he had breathed the sweet smell of success and with his innovative juices flowing freely he was on the look out for exploring new areas of achievement.
Remembered for its impressive situation comedy and pleasing songs.