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blast from the past

Kaithi Kannayiram 1960

R. S. Manohar, P. S. Veerappa, Raja Sulochana, K. A. Thangavelu, E. V. Saroja, ‘Javert' Seetharaman, Lakshmiprabha, S. N. Lakshmi, ‘Master' Sridhar, ‘Baby' Savithiri, ‘Kallapart' Natarajan and ‘Socrates' Thangaraj



taut narration Kaithi Kannayiram

The South Indian movie mogul and Modern Theatres' boss T. R. Sundaram was a prolific producer, making 100 movies in several languages, including Sinhala and English, in less than 30 years. He passed away during the making of his hundredth film. He was heavily influenced by Hollywood, its methods of production and discipline. He also drew his material from several other sources, including popular Hindi movies of his day.

One of the films which attracted his attention was a box office hit of 1959, Quaidi No. 911, directed by Aspi Irani, starring Daisy Irani, Honey Irani, Nanda, Mukri, Gajanan Jagirdhar, Sheikh Mukhthar and others. This movie had melodious music (composer Dattaram), and one song, ‘Meeti meeti baatein' rendered by Lata Mangeshkar, had an interesting link with the development and climax of the story and became a major hit. The storyline involves a tough jailor (‘Javert' Seetharaman) and his cute little boy (‘Baby' Savithiri) who is kidnapped by a vengeful murderous prisoner (Veerappa). Another prisoner (Manohar) who has lost his child (‘Master' Sridhar) makes good his escape from the prison — he undertakes the task of rescuing the jailor's missing kid. The duty-conscious jailor is only keen on nabbing the prisoner who is trying to rescue his boy. The child is taught music by a pretty teacher (Raja Sulochana) and the song, “Konji konji pesi', becomes the link for the rescue of the child kept prisoner in a building.

Sundaram used the same hit tune rendered by Lata in the Hindi version, and it became a hit in Tamil too (music: K.V. Mahadevan; and lyrics: K. Marudhakasi). Unable to locate where the child is held captive, the music teacher goes around the town singing the song (a duet in which the kid utters some lines taught by the teacher). On hearing the song, the child emerges from where he has been hidden and utters the lines outwitting the guards. After a long fight between the two prisoners (Manohar and Veerappa), the child is rescued.

Manohar, one of the few favourite actors of Sundaram (he acted in 18 of Modern Theatres' productions, an enviable record!) came up with an excellent performance, while Veerappa as the villain was his usual self. ‘Javert' Seetharaman excels as the unrelenting disciplinarian.

Comedy star Thangavelu plays the music teacher's lover, while well-known artists of the day Saroja, Lakshmiprabha, Lakshmi and ‘Kallapart' Natarajan extend good support. ‘Master' Sridhar, one of the finest child artistes of Tamil Cinema, plays the lost son of the escaped prisoner, while the jailor's boy is played by the smart little ‘Baby' Savithiri.

The interesting storyline is tautly narrated on screen by the writer and director with many hits to his credit, A. S. A. Sami ( Rajakumari and Velaikari). The impressive photography is by the veteran C.A.S. Mani assisted by the noted ‘trick' shots expert S. S. Lal (noted lensman S. D. Lal's brother).

Kaithi Kannayiram fared well at the box office.

Remembered for the melodious music and the fine performances by Manohar, Veerappa, Seetharaman, Raja Sulochana and the child artistes.

RANDOR GUY

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