blast from the past
N. S. Krishnan, T. A. Mathuram, S. V. Sahasranamam, M. G. Ramachandran, D. Balasubramaniam, S. J. Kantha
ahead of its time From Paithiakaaran
T. A. Mathuram promoted a movie company named after husband N. S. Krishnan, mainly to generate money, and a film Paithiakaaran (Madman), based on her troupe’s successful play of the same title, was launched.
Written by S. V. Sahasranamam, it drew inspiration from the V. Shantaram classic Duniya Na Mane. The film dealt with socially reformist issues such as remarriage of young widows, elderly father objecting to the widowed daughter remarrying while he marries a young woman as soon as his first wife dies and the young bride refusing to be his wife preferring to treat him as a father, which were ideas ahead of time in Tamil cinema.
N. S. Krishnan entered the film while it was under production after serving a 30-month prison sentence following the sensational Lakshmikantham Murder Case. A character was created for him, and Mathuram played a dual role as Valli (teaming up with NSK) and as the heroine. He remained his cheerful, humorous self, cracking jokes and evoking laughter even in prison. Indeed, he had rendered a satirical number about his jail sojourn in ‘Madman’ (that’s how the film was commonly referred to). The song ‘Jailukku Poi Vantha…’, which he sang in his usual breezy style, proved popular and is the only feature of the film that is remembered to this day! In this song, NSK highlighted life in prison, the kinds of prisoners, the good, the bad and the ugly, and how one need not worry about where one’s next meal comes from!
A popular song by Kavimani Desigavinayakam Pillai, ‘Paattukkoru Pulavan Bharathiyada…’, was used in the film in a dance sequence enacted by T. A. Jayalakshmi (heroine of AVM’s Naam Iruvar) and two others.
NSK’s fame grew after this release and he had a bright innings as director, producer and political enthusiast, soon emerging as a cult figure.
Krishnan-Panju directed the film and Sahasranamam told this writer that many scenes featuring MGR who played a supportive role, were directed by NSK himself.
Sahasranamam, a socially conscious person, formed his own troupe and staged plays conveying reformist messages. Paithiakaaran was one such early effort of his.
The play staged at the famous, but now non-existent, Wall Tax Theatre (known to local Tamils as ‘Othavaadai Kootthu Kotta’!) became a success after T. A. Mathuram came out of a self-imposed exile following NSK’s imprisonment and played the lead role. Her mere presence made the play a box-office success. It was then the decision to make it into a movie was taken.
The sadly forgotten South Indian film pioneer S. Soundararajan (Tamil Nadu Talkies) financed the venture mainly because of his friendship with Krishnan-Mathuram.
Remembered for: Being the successful comeback vehicle of N. S. Krishnan after his release from prison, his famous song about life in prison, and the film’s socially reformist theme.
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