CINEMA PLUS

Kamadhenu 1941

‘Baby’ Saroja, Vatsala, K.B. Vatsal,G. Pattu Iyer, G. Subbulakshmi, M.R.S. Mani, K.N. Kamalam, S.V. Venkataraman and S. Balachandar

Nandlal Jaswantlal (1907-1961) was one of the leading filmmakers of Hindi Cinema who created box office bonanzas such as Anarkali and Nagin . He was considered a stylish filmmaker for his on-screen presentation and innovations. He employed quick cuts on-screen with some shots running to a mere six to ten feet at a time when most filmmakers had shots running to 100 or 200 feet. Dazzled by his technique, some filmmakers even tried to imitate him. His camera angles and lighting too were novel then.

K. Subramanyam brought him to Madras during the 1940s to direct Kamadhenu (this was the only Tamil film Nandlal made) for his brother K. Viswanathan, who ran Chitra Talkies, a movie house near Gaiety cinema on the other side of the Cooum (anglicised corruption for ‘Komaleswaram!’) River. During those days, it was popular, screening mostly Tamil films.

Viswanathan’s daughter, ‘Baby’ Saroja (now Saroja Ramamritham in her 70s), is considered the most popular child artiste of Indian Cinema. Her performance in movies such as Balayogini and Thyagabhoomi is still remembered by old-timers. Vatsala, Saroja’s mother, played the heroine and her father, Viswanathan, played the hero under the name K. B. Vatsal! It is perhaps the only film in which father, mother, and daughter acted together.

Kamadhenu narrated a complicated family tale, highlighting differences in social status. It had several twists and turns — a rich man's son falling in love with a poor man's daughter, the rich man disowning his son and another person taking advantage of the situation... However, the story ended with the haughty father realising that true love transcends all.

Pattu Iyer, a noted figure in Tamil Cinema, played a leading role. He was associated with K. Subramanyam in all his ventures in his early days. He is remembered for his brilliant portrayal of the doctor who separates the twins in the Gemini Studios’ hit Apoorva Sahotharargal (1949).

Another important role of a woman marrying the ambitious villain was played by G. Subbulakshmi, the star of K. Subramanyam’s hit movie Bhaktha Chetha . Despite her talent she did not enjoy a long innings in the field. Kamadhenu performed fairly well at the box office mainly because of the excellent direction by Nandlal Jaswantlal and also interesting portraits by K. B. Vatsal, Vatsala and Baby Saroja. S. Balachandar, the multifaceted genius then aged 14, also played an interesting role as a friend of Saroja.

Remembered for the brilliant direction of Nandlal Jaswantlal and impressive performances of the family trio.

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