Blast from the past
Puthiya Paravai 1964
Sivaji Ganesan, M. R. Radha, Sowcar Janaki, B. Saroja Devi, V. K. Ramasami, Nagesh, Manorama, O. A. K. Thevar, Dada Mirasi
taut thrillerPuthiya Paravai
Chase A Crooked Shadow, a 1958 British movie directed by noted filmmaker Michael Anderson (Logan’s Run and Around The World In 80 Days), was a tautly told thriller with a stunning climax. A success around the world, including India, it is about a rich, elderly heiress recuperating in a villa from the loss of her father and brother in an accident. One day, she has a visitor who claims to be her dead brother! People staying with her believe that the person is really the brother, while she is certain that he is an impostor. Even the cop to whom she complains seems convinced about the brother. Soon she realises it is a deep-seated plot to drive her mad and get at her jewellery and riches. And the film ends with a shattering climax….
This Hitchcockian suspense thriller was made in Bengali, also a hit, Sheshankaa, featuring Uttam Kumar, Sharmila Tagore and Sabitha Chowdhary. The Bengali screen story by Rajkumar Mitra was acquired by Sivaji Films to be made in Tamil in color as its first in-house production — Puthiya Paravai.
The hero (Sivaji Ganesan) returns by sea from Singapore after an unhappy married life — his night-club-singer wife (Sowcar Janaki) has died under the wheels of an onrushing train. Fellow passengers on the ship are a young woman (Saroja Devi) and her uncle (Ramasami) whom he invites to stay in his palatial mansion in Ootacamund. The hero falls in love with the woman. She discovers that he gets agitated whenever he sees an on-rushing train and he begins to tell her about his dead wife and her waywardness.
While the lovers celebrate their betrothal, a young woman (Janaki) walks in, claiming to be the dead wife, and is accompanied by an uncle (Radha). The hero says the woman is an impostor but she has clinching evidence which convinces even the cop (Thevar). In a stunning climax, the truth comes out — the young woman (Saroja Devi) and her uncle (Ramasami) are actually police officers from Singapore enquiring into the mysterious death of the hero’s wife (Janaki).
Sivaji Ganesan as the hero forced into a corner is excellent. Saroja Devi exudes glamour, while Sowcar Janaki as the boozing wife acquits her role with considerable conviction.
The movie has excellent music (Viswanathan-Ramamurthy; lyrics by Kannadasan) and many songs became hits — ‘Paartha Gnaabakam Illayo…!’, ‘Unnai ondru ketpen’ (P. Sushila) and ‘Engey nimmathee’ (T. M. Soundararajan). ‘Engey’, a soul-searching song showing Sivaji Ganesan haunted by the demons of his past, was filmed in a creative manner by director Dada Mirasi who also wrote the screenplay and played the hero’s father. The cinematography was by noted lensman K. S. Prasad.
A different kind of movie for its day, Puthiya Paravai was warmly welcomed by moviegoers. It is often revived on private television channels.
Remembered for the taut onscreen narration, the excellent performances by Sivaji Ganesan, Sowcar Janaki and M. R. Radha, and Saroja Devi’s glamour.
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