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BLAST FROM THE PAST

Kalvanin Kadhali 1954

Sivaji Ganesan, P. Bhanumathi, T. R. Ramachandran, K. Sarangapani, T. S. Dorairaj, Kusalakumari, S. R. Janaki, D. Balasubramaniam and K. R. Chellam



overdose of alliteration A scene from Kalvanin Kadhali

The story of how this film came about is interesting. Iconic Tamil writer Kalki (Ra. Krishnamurthi) in his early days was fascinated by the new medium of talking pictures and wished to try his hand at screen writing. Inspired by the real life tale of a Thanjavur bandit, he wrote a screenplay which he named ‘Kalvanin Kadhali’. He found no takers. When he joined Ananda Vikatan, he serialised it in the magazine on the advice of S. S. Vasan and it proved to be a huge success. It came out as a novel which also sold well.

Later, TKS Brothers staged it as a play with similar success. Even though the novel was doing its rounds in the movie world, it did not find any takers for a long time. In 1949, N. S. Krishnan under pressure from financial problems arising from his cult film Nallathambi announced that Kalvanin Kadhali was his next production and that the dialogue would be by C. N. Annadurai, all this without getting the latter’s consent. Anna, understandably upset, had nothing to do with the project which never took off. Then came the brilliant audiographer, filmmaker and later studio owner, V. S. Raghavan, who launched it under his Revathi Productions banner in 1955, with Sivaji Ganesan playing the ‘kalvan’ (thief) and Bhanumathi, his ‘kadhali’ (lover).

D. Balasubramaniam as the heorine’s father was his usual talented self, underplaying the role with much impact. Sarangapani and Chellam as the Brahmin police inspector and his wife sustained audience interest. The movie narrated the story of Muthaian, a good natured man who turns thief under social pressure, and his love for a young woman who is forced to marry a man old enough to be her father. The fatherly husband releases her from the bonds of matrimony on his deathbed, leaving all his wealth to her. The lovers meet under strange circumstances and their love is rekindled. However, they reunite only in death like Laila Majnu, with the cops on his heels shooting him down and his heartthrob shooting herself. His sister (Kusalakumari) goes through difficult times before getting happily married, thanks to her brother’s love for her.

Even though the film had an impressive cast and good performances, Sivaji Ganesan’s portrayal as a thief suffered from the hangover of his role in Parasakthi. The illiterate thief is made to speak long-winding dialogue in high flown Tamil, filled with alliterative phrases. Not surprisingly, those sequences did not jell with the character.

Based on Kalki’s story, the dialogue was written by S. D. Sundaram, a Tamil writer who also dabbled in film production and direction without much success.

Kalvanin Kadhali had tuneful music (composers Gantasala-Govindarajulu Naidu, lyrics S. D. Sundaram, Mahakavi Bharathiar, Desiga Vinayagam Pillai) with one song ‘Veyilukketha nizhal wundu…’(Ghantasala-Bhanumathi) becoming popular. V. S. Raghavan produced and directed the film in his own studio in Kodambakkam called Revathi. Later it was acquired by B. Nagi Reddi who made it part of his vast building complex housing Vijaya-Vauhini Studios, Chandamama Publications and all. Regretfully, Kalki did not live to see his dream come true.

Remembered for the famous Kalki magazine serial and novel and also for the impressive performances, though stylised, of Sivaji Ganesan and Bhanumathi.

RANDOR GUY

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