CINEMA PLUS

Pattinathaar 1936

left a huge impact on people’s minds Pattinathaar  

M. M. Dhandapani Desikar, V. N. Sundaram, P. G. Venkatesan and D. R. Muthulakshmi

During the late 1930s, many Tamilfilms revolving around thelives of saints and folk myth figureswere made. They includedNandanar, Bhadrachala Ramadas,Mahatma Kabir, Arunagirinadhar,SundaramoorthyNayanar, Purandaradasar, Tukaram,Thulasidas, KannappaNayanar, Thayumaanavar, Sankaracharyaand Vipranarayana.In those days, it was the practicefor more than one producerto make more than one versionof a story and the producersvied with each other to releasetheir film first. Because the storieswere in the public domainand had no copyright claims, itwas easy to make such films.However in their hurry to releasethe film, quality invariablytook a backseat. The Pattinatharfolk myth was filmed thrice. Onewas `Lotus' Pattinathar (Lotusbeing the name of the filmcompany!) in 1935, starring C. S.Sundaramurthy Odhuvaar in thetitle role. Though he was trainedto sing hymns, he was no matchfor Dhandapani Desikar nor didhe have such a fabulous voice.The Lotus version sadly did notblossom.A later day version came outin 1962 with T. M. Soundararajanas the saint.However, the most successfulof them all was made in 1936which ran for 25 long weeks.Produced by M. T. Rajan (whotook on-screen credit for direction)of Vel Pictures, the filmwas indeed directed by the sadlyneglected Tamil cinema pioneer,journalist-turned-filmmakerMurugadasa (Muthuswami Iyer)with brilliant camera wizardryby K. Ramnoth and equally fineart direction by A. K. Sekhar. Itwas written by the Tamil scholar,screenwriter, who directed afew films, T. C. Vadivelu Naicker.The title role of the celebratedsaint of Thiruvottriyur,popularly known as Pattinathaar,was played by the famedmusician and Thamizh Isai exponent,M. M. Dhandapani Desikar.He played many suchsaintly roles in those years, includingthe Gemini Studios'Nandanar.Pattinathaar composed manyhymns and songs and, expectedly,the film had 52 songs, mostof them rendered by DhandapaniDesikar.Even though Desikar sangwell and emoted to the best ofhis ability, there was considerablecriticism that he was too fatto play a saint who ate only oncea day throughout his life!Desikar's film created anenormous impact on the mindsof young men of that era and itwas strongly believed that manyof them, including married men,took to `sanyasam' donning saffronrobes, long hair and sacredash. Vel Pictures with its ownstudio on Eldams Road in thePitapuram Palace later shiftedto Guindy to a more spaciouslocation where it functioned formany years, producing films inTamil and Telugu. V. L. Narasu,coffee magnate-turned-producer,took over the studio andNarasu Studios witnessed themaking of multilingual movies,including Hindi movies, until itwent out of business. CampaCola, one of the early soft drinkcompanies, acquired the studio.Remembered for Being themost successful saint-based filmand for the saint's classical compositionsrendered with emotionby Dhandapani Desikar.Sadly no print of this film existstoday.RANDOR GUY