Blast from the past
Bhaktha Gowri 1941
U. R. Jeevaratnam, S. D. Subbaiah, K. K. Perumal, C.V.V. Panthulu, Kali N. Ratnam, M. R . Swami- nathan, T. S. Durairaj, L. Narayana Rao, P. A. Rajamani, C. T. Rajakantham and P. S. Sivabhaghyam
Music, the highpoint
The year 1941 witnessed a new heroine making a mark in Tamil cinema. She was U. R. Jeevaratnam and the film was Bhaktha Gowri, a folk tale. Jeevaratnam's strong point was her melodious voice. Her song ‘Theruvil varandee, velan thedi varandee' in this film became a hit.
A Modern Theatres' production, Bhaktha Gowri was directed by S. Notani. He worked for T. R Sundaram for a while and later went back to Bombay where he established a prosperous ready-made garments business.
Jeevaratnam played the heroine in a fistful of films such as Poompavai, Abhimanyu and Bhojan. Interestingly in Kannagi, she was cast as Kaunthi Adigal. She was too young for the role, and there were waves of laughter whenever she addressed Kannamba (Kannagi) and Chinnappa (Kovalan) (who were much older than her) as ‘ kuzhandhaigaley' (children)! After marrying the manager of Jupiter Pictures' Venkataswami, she retired from films to lead a quiet life. She lived in Madras and passed away a few years ago in her eighties. The story is a segment of ‘Thiruvilayadal Puranam,' the mythology relating to Siva. The basic theme was whether Siva and Vishnu were one and the same. This was hotly discussed in those days, especially in south India. According to Sage Narada, both were one, and he informs Siva about the arguments on Earth. To prove it, Siva blesses a Saivite couple (K.K. Perumal and P.A. Rajamani) with a daughter Gowri (Jeevaratnam). She meets a Vaishnavaite youth (S. D. Subbaiah) and weds him. Their marriage faces problems from the mother-in law (Sivabhaghyam). After undergoing many trials and tribulations, she and her man rejoice with Siva proving He and Vishnu are one and the same and the differences were created by man on Earth!
The script was by noted screenwriter D. V. Chari, who was associated with Sundaram and Modern Theatres for many years. Subbaiah was a fairly well-known actor-cum-singer of his day but sadly he faded fast. Bhaktha Gowri had melodious music (lyrics: S. Velsami Kavi; the song book does not credit the music composer but mentions the names of the orchestra players and their instruments).
Many songs became popular and include ‘Maya ulagai mathiyathey', ‘ Naanmugan padaippil' (voice: Subbaiah) and a comic song (Durairaj-Swaminathan). The most popular melody was of course Jeevaratnam's ‘Theruvil varaandee' (a straight lift from a popular Hindi song of that day).
Rajamani (the elder sister of the popular singer actor P. A. Periyanayaki) sang a few songs. She played major roles in some of the early movies but soon faded, while her sister made a mark as an actor and a playback singer.
Paramakudi Sivabhaghyam, famous for her gramophone records, played the cruel mother-in-law. Her most famous song was ‘Vannaan vanthaaney'. Later, she played the role of mother in some films. She died in a car accident some years ago.
Remembered for the melodious music and the hit of the day, ‘Theruvil varaandee'.
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