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blast from the past

Kalyanam Panniyum Bramhachari 1954

T. R. Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan, Padmini, Ragini, B. R. Panthulu, J. P. Chandra Babu, Thangavelu, ‘Pottai' Krishnamurthi, K. T. Santhanam, ‘Gundu' Mani, M. N. Krishnan, Krishna Bai and Saradambal



great performances Kalyanam Panniyum Brahmachari

Kalyanam Panniyum Bramhachari, featuring T. R. Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan, Padmini and Ragini in lead roles, was a comedy written and directed by Pa. Neelakantan, a playwright-turned- director. It was produced by B. R. Panthulu, who made successful movies in Tamil, Kannada and Hindi under his banner, Padmini Pictures. This film proved a hit but ran into problems over copyright issues, ending up in a suit for damages at the Original Side of the Madras High Court. The hearing of this suit before Justice N. Rajagopala Ayyangar with V. C. Gopalratnam appearing for the producer and director witnessed many comical moments raising laughter in court. Indeed some senior lawyers present remarked that the hearing had more comedy than the film!

Vedam Venkataraya Sastri was a well-known Telugu scholar, playwright and amateur stage actor. His grandson bearing the same name wrote a play in Telugu called ‘Vyamoham', which was staged in Madras a couple of times. When the film Kalyanam Panniyum Bramhachari was under production, he came to know that it was “a wholesale reproduction and a light hearted appropriation' (as described delightfully by his lawyer later in the plaint for the copyright infringement suit, N. K. Mohanrangam Pillai, a Justice Party member and successful Original Side lawyer). A notice was sent through Pillai to B. R. Panthulu, who offered a handsome compensation to Sastri Junior not to create trouble before the release of the picture. Sastri somewhat surprisingly wanted his name to be shown in the credits of the film, which was flatly refused by the producer.

Consequently, a case for infringement of copyright was filed by Sastri with Pillai as his lawyer and while giving evidence to substantiate his claim, standing in the witness box, he began to act out the scenes he claimed were really his. He started by saying “I am an MA of the Madras University… First Class…First Class”, comically turning his head this way and that way, raising laughter in court. When the Presiding Judge Ayyangar asked him why he repeated the word twice, he replied shaking his head that he got First Class in two subjects and so he was a double MA. Dramatically he added, “But I am not a mama!”

(‘Mama' is used pejoratively in Tamil as a synonym for the word ‘pimp'! There were many such hilarious moments during the trial and V. C. Gopalratnam added his own with his wisecracks!)

However Sastri lost his case both in the trial court and later on appeal.

The Tamil screen story was written by actor and dialogue writer T. K. Govindan, while the script was by Pa. Neelakantan.

Ganapathi (Ramachandran) has no intention of getting married. His parents have a village girl in view (Ragini) and ask him to come to Madurai. He goes along with his friend Ambalavaanan (Sivaji Ganesan) who wants to meet his college girlfriend (Padmini) who is from the same family as Ragini. Ganapathi falls for Padmini not knowing that his pal is already in love with her! The hero rejects the rural girl. Padmini changes her name, lifestyle and get up, and introduces her to Ganapathi. He falls for her and marries her. Soon he realises the truth. However, the problems are solved with the couples living happily thereafter.

Ramachandran was a top comedian and star who played the hero in many movies such as Vazhkai, the AVM box office hit. The film was indeed built around him with Sivaji Ganesan who had entered filmdom a few years earlier with Parasakthi (1952) more or less playing a supporting role.

The film had melodious music (composer T. G. Lingappa) with lyrics by K. D. Santhanam and others. Today not many are aware that a peppy song, ‘Jolly life….jolly life …' was filmed on Sivaji Ganesan with Chandra Babu lending his voice! The song became popular.

According to the celebrated Kannada filmmaker Puttanna Kanagal, the Tamil screenplay was indeed a wholesale reproduction of the Telugu play. A couple of other filmmakers of that period also confirmed it.

Remembered for: the interesting storyline, melodious music and good performances by Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan and Padmini.

RANDOR GUY

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