blast from the past
M. G. Ramachandran, Madhuri Devi, Sriranjani Jr, Serukalathur Sama, T. S. Durairaj, K. S. Angamuthu, C. T. Rajakantham and ‘Pulimoottai' Ramaswami
one of MGR's early films Kumari
An entertainer by R. Padmanabhan, this film based on folklore, had MGR playing the hero — it was one of his early films when he was not yet the iconic star he would soon become.
Padmanabhan made his mark even during the Silent Film era and was responsible for the entry of another sadly neglected Indian film pioneer, lawyer-turned-filmmaker K. Subramanyam. KS took his bow in one of Padmanabhan's silent films as a screenwriter. Padmanabhan was also responsible for bringing in Raja Sandow who created history in Bombay and later in Madras. Produced and directed by Padmanabhan, the film was written by the lyricist and Tamil scholar Ku. Sa. Krishnamurthi and S. M. Santhanam, while the lyrics were by Ku. Sa. Ki and T. K. Sundara Vathiyar. K. V. Mahadevan composed the music, while Padmanabhan had his usual cinematographer T. Marconi, an Italian in Madras, work with him.
Shot at Neptune Studio in Adyar (later Satya Studios), the assistant director was ‘A. C. T. Chandar M.A.' Soon after he would blossom as a writer-director and producer who made many hit movies with Sivaji Ganesan, M. G. Ramachandran and others under his full name, A. C. Thirulokachandar! Santhanam also worked with ACT in the directorial department.
(Santhanam was a noted film journalist and critic during the late 1940s and worked for the popular Tamil movie monthly, Gundoosi.)
A princess (Sriranjani), while travelling in a horse carriage, meets with an accident when the horses run wild, and is rescued by a handsome young man (MGR). The two fall in love and the princess gives him a signet and invites him to her palace. Problems arise when the king wishes to get the princess married and the queen (Madhuri Devi) wishes to have her married to her useless brother (Durairaj.)
After many thrilling incidents, the lovers are united and live happily as expected!
The film had many songs rendered by P. Leela, Jikki (P. G. Krishnaveni), A.M. Raja, A.P. Komala, and N. L. Ganasaraswathi. There were also gypsy dances choreographed by Sohanlal. One song rendered by Jikki off-screen, ‘Laalalee laallee…..' picturised on Madhuri Devi, became popular. It was a straight lift of the popular duet in Dastan (Hindi) rendered by Suraiya and Mohammed Rafi. This tune in turn was inspired by a popular Hispanic melody of that period and was used by Naushad!
In spite of the interesting onscreen narration, deft direction and excellent camerawork by Marconi and impressive performances by MGR, Serukalathur Sama and others, Kumari did not do well. One of the important roles was played by Vijayakumar, a handsome young man. After playing lead roles in some films during the 1940s and 1950s, he faded from public memory.
Comedy was provided by C. T. Rajakantham, ‘Pulimoottai' Ramaswami and others.
Padmanabhan also produced this film in Telugu under the title Rajeswari.
Remembered for being one of the early films of the future superstar and cult figure MGR, and some catchy tunes of Mahadevan.
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