Rani Lalithangi 1957

brilliant performances Rani Lalithangi

brilliant performances Rani Lalithangi  

This story about kings, queens, princesses and scheming chieftains was filmed earlier in 1935 as Lalithangi by the Madurai-based Royal Talkie Distributors, with T. P. Rajalakshmi, the iconic figure of Tamil cinema, in the title role. Noted actor Chellappa played the hero. The film was a reasonable success, according to N. M. R. Krishnamurthi, one of the partners in the famed production company.

The same story was again made into a film in 1957 with Sivaji Ganesan and Bhanumathi playing the lead. Not many are aware that M. G. Ramachandran was initially cast as the hero of the film, and after a few sequences were shot, including a song and dance sequence featuring him and Rajasulochana, he withdrew from the film for reasons unknown. Sivaji Ganesan sailing high after the success of Parasakthi (1952) stepped in to play the lead role.

(Similarly, A. T. Krishnaswami's (ATK) Arivaali (1962) was begun in 1953 with MGR and Bhanumathi in the lead. After some reels were shot, MGR opted out and Sivaji Ganesan was brought on board. For many a reason, the film was released only nine years later and proved to be a hit.)

Lalithangi (Bhanumathi) is a queen who rules over her kingdom, showing the world that a woman could rule as effectively as a man. Another king, a kind-hearted man, has a son (Sivaji Ganesan), a talented sculptor and lover of fine arts. A scheming and ambitious chieftain (Veerappa), who has his eye on the prince's kingdom, plans to kill him in the course of a gypsy dance. He also deputes an attractive dancer (Rajasulochana) to ensnare him, but the prince escapes her wiles and begins to hate women. Lalithangi who wants to win over the hero disguises herself as a yogini and hands over a love letter to the prince. This enrages him and he throws her out. Determined to win his heart, she learns dancing. During an art festival at the palace, Lalithangi succeeds in dancing and changing the prince's mind! How she persuades the prince to fall in love with her and wins him as her life partner form the rest of the plot.

Bhanumathi as the queen was brilliant, while Veerappa as the scheming chieftain was his usual self. Sivaji Ganesan was in top form in a difficult role. Rajasulochana as the dancer extended excellent support. Written by well-known writer and lyricist Thanjai Ramaiah Das, the film had music by G. Ramanathan. The choreography was taken care of by Pasumarthi Krishnamurthi, Ganesam Pillai and Thangaraju.

There was also a dance sequence by E.V. Saroja. Noted lensman P. L. Rai handled the camera with much impact, especially in the outdoor sequences, and the film, directed by T. R. Raghunath, was shot at Bharani (owned by Bhanumathi) and Neptune Studios.

In spite of the interesting storyline, popular stars, song and dance numbers and pleasing photography, Rani Lalithangi did not do well at the box office.

Remembered for: the interesting storyline, song and dance sequences by Rajasulochana, impressive photography and the performances by Sivaji Ganesan, Bhanumathi and Veerappa.

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