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BLAST FROM THE PAST

 KANDAM BACHA COATU 1961

Thikkurissi, T. S. Muthiah, Prem Nawaz, Nellikkodu Bhaskaran, Ambika, Pankajavalli, Aranmulla Ponnamma, Nilambur Ayisha



Colourful social drama Prem Nawaz with Thikkurissi.

Modern Theatres, producers of the first talkie film in Malayalam, also brought colour with the Muslim social drama ‘Kandam Bacha Coatu.’ Based on a popular novel, which was also staged as a play under the same title, the screen version in Eastman colour was a success.

The film focussed mainly on the evil of dowry system, which was rampant in the Muslim community. A trailer of the film was introduced for the first time in Malayalam cinema.

Debut venture

This film was the first Malayalam directorial venture of the famous director T. R. Sundaram. Nellikkodu Bhaskaran, noted for his character roles, made his debut in this film. It introduced the Kozhikodan slang in Malayalam cinema. The dialogues by K.T. Mohammed were impressive. He assailed the many undesirable practices in the community. All the artists, especially Nilambur Ayisha, spoke the local dialect and slang in a very natural style.

The story of the film revolves around a kind hearted cobbler Mohammed Kakka (T. S. Muthiah). He keeps his life savings in the pockets of his old coat to realise his dream of going on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Alikoya Haji (Thikkurissi) brings up his son son Ummer (Prem Nawaz) with a lot of love and affection. Hajis’s sister Kadeeja (Pankajavalli) and her family lives in the neighbourhood. Amina (Aranmula Ponnamma) and her children, Kunju Bibi (Ambika ) and Hassan (Nellikkodu Bhaskaran) live in the same house. Amina’s husband is a businessman in Singapore. Kadeeja’s husband Avaran (Kedamangalam Sadanandan) is very considerate to his brother’s wife Amina and her family. But Kadeeja keeps ill treating Amina.

Ummer falls in love with Kunju Bibi, his childhood mate. The jealous Kadeeja tries in vain to create problems. Alikoya Haji decides to accept Kunju Bibi as his daughter-in-law, but demands a dowry of Rs. 2,000.



Prem Nawaz and Ambika

Amina’s husband starts from Singapore with the money. Arrangements for the wedding is made but to the dismay of everyone a telegram announces the death of Amina’s husband. Amina and her children are thrown out of the house; the marriage is postponed as Haji demands the dowry. Mohammed Kakka gives shelter to Amina and her family. Kadeeja continues to harass them, while Ummer tries hard to help them organise the money. He even goes to the extent of stealing from his father’s safe. Ummer is caught red handed and is placed under house arrest. Mohammed Kakka makes arrangements for the marriage. He offers the money he had saved and kept in the pockets of the coat. He also appeals to others in the neighbourhood to contribute for the marriage. Ummer finally marries Kunju Bibi providing a happy ending to the film. The film ran for weeks. Thikkurissi excelled in his role of the Haji. Prem Nawaz, Aranmula Ponnamma, Ambika, and others came up with impressive performances. However, the main attraction was T. S. Muthiah’s Mohammed Kakka, considered to be his best performance in Malayalam.

The film had nine songs by P. Bhaskaran and M.S. Baburaj. A comedy number ‘Zindabad, zindabad...’ by Mehboob, ‘Puthen manavatti...’ an Oppana song by P. Leela and chorus, were popular. A drama, ‘Elayadethu Rani, was an added attraction.

Will be remembered: As the first colour film in Malayalam. It will also be remembered as the first directorial venture of T. R. Sundaram in Malayalam, as the debut film of Nellikodu Bhaskaran, actor and script writer K. T. Mohammed. And the first film to use the typical Kozhikode Muslim slang in a film.

B. VIJAYAKUMAR

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