Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Interesting Vintage movie Manuneethi Chozhan

 Before the advent of TV, the main sources of entertainment for the people of Tamil Nadu in, particular, were the radio, movies, followed by dramas and Theru Koothoos; the last one being a folk-art drama quite popular in rural Tamil Nadu  and the venue was the street and  it would be held in the night from 8 pm  
onwards. The Keechaka Vadham was the first silent Tamil movie, made by R. Nataraja Mudaliar in 1918. The first talkie movie was Alam Ara, followed by  Kalidas, a multilingual movie released on 31 October 1931.
Aaraichimani or Manu Neethi Chozhan The Hindu

As for the Tamil Movies, like others, mostly they were on mythological stories with lots of songs and dance sequences in the early period, as the people were religious and they liked them very much. In the later period historical pictures (Rani Samyakta, Chittoor Rani Padmini, Vikramadhiya, Raja Rajan etc.) and patriotic films kike Aanda Naal, Veerapandiya Kattabomman, Kappalotiya Tamizhan (about V.O. Chidambaram who founded the first Indian Swadeshi shipping company against the British) became popular and successful along with social films. By the end of the 1930s, the legislature of the State of Madras (Madras Presidency) passed the Entertainment Tax Act of 1939.

The legend of Manu Neetha Chozhan, an unbiased and equitable ruler of a part of Tamil country is quite popular and I never thought that a movie was taken on this ruler. I came to know about the film only last week when I read a Tamil Magazine and any of us are never heard of the existence of a Tamil movie on the famed  Chola The movie was produced by a Coimbatore-based Kandhan Studio owned by Kandhan and Company. In those days, it is said, that many films used have two titles and I am at my wit's end to understand why the movies had two titles and what purpose it served.  This movie was directed by one Raja  Sandow, an unsung pioneer in Tamil Cinema and he was assisted by Raghbhir Ramye. In those days many noted cinematographers were Europeans. This film was shot by one E.R. Cooper. In the 1940s and 50s, a well-known  American cinematographer Ellis Dunkan was closely associated with Tamil movie industry and had spent most of his life in Madras. He handled many numerous films efficiently acted my the famous Carnatic music singer M.S. Subbulakshmi, N.T Rama Rao., Gemini Ganesan, et al. Dunkan's famous movie was Maya Bazaar produced by Vijaya Studios of Madras (Chennai).

 As for the film Manu Neethi Chozhan in Tamil, the late famous duo Krishnan Panju were associated with this film. Later, they became popular producers of quality movies. The film had a nifty cast with noted Character actor of the day,  R. Balasubramaniam played the king Manuneethi Chozhan, while popular actress of her day M.R. Santhanalakshmi was the queen. Can you make a guess who played Chola ruler's son prince Vitangan? It was none other than versatile ‘Veena’ Maestro S. Balachandar, who was only 15years old then. Later, he became a Veena player of great repute. Incidentally, in the 1950s he directed the film in Tamil Aand Naal produced by the AVM studios, Chennai), starring popular actor Shivaji Ganesan and Pandari Bhai. It was the first, ever  Tamil film without any dance and song sequence.

 According to the film version, the prince is born to the childless royal couple after prolonged prayer and offerings to invoke the blessings of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvathi. On a hunting trip, the prince, now a handsome man,  fell in love with young girl Kalavalli ( S. Varalakshmi; in the film Kattabomman she is the queen of Kattabomman), the daughter of the minister. The minister and his wife opposed the love affair. However, the love affair was approved by the prince father, after some bottlenecks and, at last,  the prince married the girl whom he loved very much.

The most popular legend is about the Chola king and his just rule involving the king, his prince, calf, and the cow.  A calf is accidentally killed under the prince's chariot and the cow being run over by the prince, and the mother cow rings the Bell of Justice, hung near the palace. Convinced that his son is responsible for the death of the calf, to make amends and to rectify the injustice done to her the king orders a similar punishment to the son. The gods appear and render justice, restoring the calf back to life. 


This part of the story, that brings out the truth that 'before law  
everybody is equal and the justice should be impartial' was underplayed for unknown reasons. The story was by Kavi Kunjaram the lyrics were -written by Kambadasan, both forgotten today. The music direction was by an unknown music director Srinivasa Rao Shinde. in those days only  Carnatic music was understood and given weight age. Bothe Varalakshmi and Balachander were good singers and they sang songs. As for the comedy part, N.S. Krishnan and T.A. Mathuram pair never failed to enthuse the audience by their thought-provoking comedy.The film, it is said was fairly successful.
Ref:
http://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-columns/araichimani-or-manuneethi-chozhan-1942/article5740206.ece