CINEMA PLUS

Rangoon Radha 1956

excellent cast From Rangoon Radha

excellent cast From Rangoon Radha  

Sivaji Ganesan, P. Bhanumathi, M. N. Rajam, S. S. Rajendran, N. S. Krishnan, T. A. Mathuram and Rajasulochana



George Cukor of Hollywood fame made many immortal classics, one of them being Gaslight (1944), starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten and a teenager, Angela Lansbury. The MGM hit was a remake of a British film of the same title made in 1940 by Thorold Dickinson. The Hollywood movie had a successful run in Madras. C. N. Annadurai, an ardent student of cinema, adapted the movie and wrote it as a novel titled “Rangoon Radha”. His story was written for the screen by Mu. Karunanidhi.

After his stunning debut in Parasakthi (1952), Sivaji Ganesan did not get many offers as one expected. He acted as villain in quite a few films during the 1950s — Andha Naal, Thirumbi Paar, Thuli Visham, and Rangoon Radha. His performance in them was outstanding and his dialogue delivery inimitable. In Rangoon Radha, he plays a rich hypocrite, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, married to a loving, dutiful wife (Bhanumathi). He covets his sister-in-law (Rajam) and manipulates his wife’s mind to make her believe that she is going insane. Instead of seeking medical advice, he gets a witch doctor to exorcise the evil spirit that is believed to possess her. Because of her undying love for her husband, she suffers all the torture, mental and physical, and even puts up with his marrying her sister (Rajam). Meanwhile, she becomes pregnant, and he taunts her, saying the child is not his. Like the proverbial worm that turns, the suffering wife seeks revenge against her husband in her own way… After many twists and turns, the story unfolds 20 years later. Her son (Rajendran) being brought up by the father learns the truth. The evil deeds of the aging man get exposed…

Bhanumathi as the suffering, typical, traditional Hindu wife is superb and she virtually carries the film on her shoulders. Indeed her performance was so impressive that C. N. Annadurai paid her a compliment when he remarked, “Nadipukku ilakkanam vaghuthavar” (‘she laid down the grammar for acting’.) Sivaji Ganesan is equally impressive though somewhat theatrical and florid, which was his style during the 1950s. Rajendran in one of his early films reveals his mastery over delivery of the high-flown, alliterative Tamil dialogue of Mu. Karunanidhi. N. S. Krishnan and T. A. Mathuram appear in minor roles, with NSK playing the manthravaadhi, who reforms to become a native doctor in Burma. Later day noted comedians ‘Kuladeivam’ Rajagopal, and ‘Ayya Theriyaadhaiyya’ S. Rama Rao appear in minor roles. And the handsome star-hero Muthuraman (uncredited) is seen in a single sequence as a lawyer. In spite of the formidable writing credits, excellent cast and outstanding performances, Rangoon Radha did not do well as one had expected. Perhaps the negative role of Sivaji Ganesan had contributed to its not-so-warm welcome.

Remembered for the brilliant performance by Bhanumathi as the suffering wife and Sivaji Ganesan’s anti-hero role. And the high-flown dialogue of Mu. Karunanidhi.

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