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blast from the past

Aryamala (1941)

P. U. Chinnappa, M. S. Sarojini, M. R. Santhana- lakshmi, T. S. Balaiah, N. S. Krishnan, T. A. Mathuram, S. R. Janaki, Kulathu Mani, A. Sakunthala, P. S. Gnanam, A. R. Sakunthala and B. Rajagopala Iyer



Box office hit Aryamala

K. S. Narayanan Iyengar who hailed from Salem and married into a wealthy family of Madras was interested in motion pictures and promoted Narayanan & Company. It distributed movies and later became a successful production house. S. M. Sriramulu Naidu was Iyengar's agent, later a partner in Pakshiraja Films. Soon both decided to foray into production and the first venture was Aryamala.

Aryamala was made at Central Studios, Coimbatore. Sreeramulu Naidu had a hand in running the studio; consequently, Aryamala was shot there.

Chinnappa, an import from Tamil Theatre, was knocking at the door of stardom in Tamil Cinema after T. R. Sundaram-Modern Theatres' box office hit, Utthama Puthran (in which he played a double role).

He was cast as the hero in this film and Aryamala was played by Saroja (later M. S Sarojini) who soon became a noted star but acted only in Sreeramulu Naidu's productions…

Her elder sister M. S. Mohanambal was a well-known actor of the 1930s and Saroja played minor roles in her films. Aryamala proved to be Saroja's first major break.

Aryamala narrated the folk myth of Kaathavarayan. It was all about Parvathi being cursed by Lord Siva who creates Kaathavarayan (his third son). Kaathavarayan is brought up by hunters and protected by Parvathi. Seeing a celestial girl Ilankanni bathing in a river, he tries to make love to her and she drowns herself….Shiva curses his son to die by impalement.

Ilankanni is reborn and adopted by a king. She is named Aryamala. Kaathavarayan falls in love with her and tries several tricks to win her heart like turning into a parrot, which she takes home. Changing shape again, he ties a ‘tali' around her neck while she is asleep. Shocked, she tries to drown herself again when Lord Krishna saves and turns her into a stone, which comes to life when Kaathavarayan touches it.

The hero is arrested and taken to be impaled, when Parvathi prays to Krishna who saves him. Kaathavarayan and Aryamala live happily thereafter…

N. S. Krishnan played the hero's companion, while his heartthrob was Mathuram. The film had a long list of artistes, which included Balaiah, Kulathu Mani, Santhanalakshmi (Parvathi) and B. Rajagopala Iyer (Siva).

The dialogue was by T. C. Vadivelu Naicker who wrote many films in those days and directed a couple of them. G. Ramanathan set the lyrics by C. A. Lakshmana Das to music, but only a few songs became popular.

Chinnappa impressed with this flamboyant performance. Surprisingly, the film does not carry any credit for the director. Well-known cinematographer Bomman Irani is believed to have directed the film with Sreeramulu Naidu learning the ropes by being present on the set in every shot.

Aryamalawas a major box office success and established Chinnappa as a box office hero. Soon he scaled great heights with hits such as Kannagi, Jagathalaprathapan, Kubera Kuchela and Krishna Bhakthi.

Some critics and moviegoers of those days thought he was better than the superstar Thyagaraja Bhagavathar because of his acting prowess and stunt performing skills, which Bhagavathar lacked.

Remembered for: the interesting storyline and Chinnappa's impressive performance.

RANDOR GUY

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