Wednesday, February 22, 2012

THE HINDU: Thangamalai Rahasiyam

Thangamalai Rahasiyam 1957


May 22, 2011

Sivaji Ganesan, T. R. Rajakumari, Jamuna, M. N. Nambiar, P. S. Veerappa, T. R. Ramachandran, M. V. Rajamma, B. Saroja Devi, K. S. Angamuthu, C.V.V. Panthulu, Ganapathi Bhat, Indra Acharya, M. S. Karuppaiah, K. Sarangapani and ‘Kottapuli' Jayaraman

Interesting screenplay Thangamalai Rahasiyam

Produced and directed by B. R. Panthulu, who gave hits in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi,Thangamalai Rahasiyam had an impressive star cast led by Sivaji Ganesan. 

Panthulu began his life as a stage actor in Kannada and made his way to the top thanks to sheer guts and perseverance.

A folktale of kings, queens, princesses and ambitious young women,Thangamalai Rahasiyam had many twists and turns. Chinna Annamalai and Ve. Lakshmanan wrote it with dialogue by noted filmmaker Pa. Neelakantan. The screenplay was by one of the noted personalities of Tamil cinema, ‘Chitra' S. Krishnaswami. (For a while, he edited and published a movie magazine,Chitra,and hence the prefix for his name.)

Krishnaswami began his career in Delhi and came down to Madras to act in movies. He did play a major role in a forgotten film,Minmini,which was inspired by the sensational Lakshmikantham Murder Case. Due to many problems, financial and otherwise, the film was long in production and had a limited release and did not meet with success.

Krishnaswami later became a successful screenwriter and production controller, working for Panthulu. This association resulted in his becoming close to MGR and for many years he was handling his business affairs in India and abroad.

A well-read man, he wove the Greek tale of ‘King Midas and his Donkey's Ears' into this film â€" Ramachandran plays the character, a compulsive eavesdropper, and a magician gives him the donkey's ears!

Rajakumari as the princess is disappointed when a visiting prince mistakes her companion (Rajamma) for the princess, falls for her and marries her.

Frustrated, the princess sends the pregnant woman to a forest where she begets a son (Sivaji Ganesan). The kid goes missing. He is brought up by a herd of elephants! Growing up in such company, he has no knowledge of human language â€" he expresses himself in grunts and growls. Another princess (Jamuna) visiting the forest meets him and grooms him into a normal human being, falling in love with him in the process.

After many complications, goodness is rewarded and evil punished. The film has melodious music (T. G. Lingappa, one of the leading music composers of Kannada Cinema) and the lyrics were written by Ku. Ma. Balasubramaniam and Ku. Sa. Krishnamurthi. T. M. Soundararajan, P. Leela, V. N. Sundaram and P. Susheela sang the songs. ‘Amudhai pozhiyum nilavey,' rendered by Susheela, became a hit.

The film had excellent photography (G. K Ramu) and some sequences were shot in colour by noted lens man W. R Subba Rao.

Panthulu had S.R. Puttanna Kanagal as one of his three assistant directors who later rose to become one of the top filmmakers of India and indeed the best of Kannada Cinema. The film had a successful run and was also dubbed in other languages. Sivaji Ganesan in a ‘Tarzanish' role was impressive.

Remembered forthe well-woven storyline, excellent locations, melodious music and fine performances by Sivaji Ganesan, Rajakumari and Rajamma.

Randor Guy


Veteran actor S.N. Lakshmi dies

Veteran actor Lakshmi dies


CHENNAI, February 21, 2012



She played the screen mother for several heroes, from MGR to Kamal Hassan

Veteran actor S.N. Lakshmi, whose performance was marked by refreshing restraint, passed away here on Sunday. She was 85.

Fans of Tamil cinema cannot forget the kleptomaniac paatti in Michael Madana Kama Rajan' (MMKR), or the concerned mother-in-law in Mahaanadi' very easily. Her portrayal of the characters was not just highly entertaining, but also very convincing.

Beginning her journey in Tamil theatre and then moving on to films, Lakshmi worked on a style that showed moderation rather than melodrama, something that was not very common among artistes of her generation.

In her career spanning over seven decades, she performed with stars such as M.G.Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini Ganesan and Nagesh in some of their best films, and later with top actors of the next generation, particularly Kamal Haasan. He is said to have had great confidence in her, periodically giving her fascinating roles.

"Colossal talent"

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone from the sets of Viswaroopam' in Mumbai, Kamal said: I was very close to her and have admired her. To be honest, I feel she is like a family treasure that I inherited from the KB school. She was a colossal talent!

Recalling her performances in some of his films, he said it was hard to believe that the lady who played the kleptomaniac in MMKR was the one who played Periyaatha' in Thevar Magan, or the old woman in Virumaandi'.

"I would joke with her that she was made to play mother even as a little girl. Amaam thambi, appadithaan ayiduchu' (yes, that's how it was), she would laugh. She has acted as mother of R.S.Manohar, Sivaji, M.G.R. several heroes across generations.

At a time when many are racing towards mediocrity, actors of a higher order such as S.N.Lakshmi, Nagesh and Kaka Radhakrishnan may have gone unnoticed after the 1960s. I did not want that to happen, as such talent should be celebrated. I celebrated her when she was alive, and will continue to do so henceforth too. Observing that she would instantly understand what was required of her, Kamal said: You just had to tell her what the character was, she would take care of everything and do a brilliant job.

Lakshmi had rich experience in theatre as well. Having performed in over 2,000 plays in various troupes, including those of Gnanadesikar, N.S. Krishnan, S.V. Sahasranamam's Seva Stage and K. Balachander's Ragini Recreations, she could draw upon different schools. According to chronicler Film News' Anandan many of the plays produced by Sahasranamam were later made into films later and Lakshmi got to act in them.

Her initial years in the field present a rather colourful picture. She performed fascinating stunt sequences, including a fight with a leopard for the MGR film Baghdad Thirudan'. Such courage was not something she acquired for the profession, but something she had even as a child.

Unhappy with the way her brothers treated her after her father's passing away, she decided to leave home when she was barely 11 years old to find her true calling. Though she later reunited with her family, Lakshmi preferred leading an independent life, acting in television serials, driving around.

She would take her car and go on long drives when time permitted. She loved being on her own.


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