Date:19/06/2010 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/mp/2010/06/19/stories/2010061952651200.htm
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BLAST FROM THE PAST

Ithaya Geetham (1950)

T. R. Mahalingam, T. R. Rajakumari, T. P. Rajalakshmi, C. V. V. Panthulu, P. S. Veerappa, M. G. Chakrapani, C. S. D. Singh, V. S. Susheela, Lalitha-Padmini (dance)



PERIOD ROMANCE Ithaya Geetham.

Joseph Thaliath Jr. was the son of a judge of the Travancore High Court when it was a princely state. Branching off from the conservative family, he landed in Madras with dreams of making films. Fighting against odds, he worked as assistant director under the sadly forgotten, South Indian film pioneer S. Soundararajan of Tamil Nadu Talkies. Soon after, he promoted his own production company named Citadel Film Corporation. With the help of noted art director, studio-owner and producer- director F. Nagoor Joseph, he launched his first production Gnanasoundari (1948).

A slice of Christian mythology, it turned out to be a box office bonanza, and he at once launched his second film Ithaya Geetham.

A period love story and costume drama written by Joseph himself, the script and dialogue were by Naanjil T.N. Rajappa, a fairly well-known writer of the day.

Ithaya Geetham was all about a king, who on his deathbed leaves his queen (Rajalakshmi) and daughter (Rajakumari) in the custody of his friend (Singh) who has two sons, the elder (Veerappa) and the younger (Mahalingam).While the elder son goes to fight a battle, his younger brother and the princess fall in love.

Returning victorious from the war, the elder son claims the hand of the princess, but she finds it difficult to decide. The upset younger son goes to battle where he is injured. Realising her folly, the princess attends to her lover. The brothers fight a duel over the princess and the younger brother wins. The lovers marry and rule the kingdom…

Rajakumari and Mahalingam made an attractive pair and the film had tuneful music (composer S.V. Venkataraman, lyrics, Kambadasan and K. P. Kamakshi). Many songs became popular — ‘Vaanulaavum Tharai neeyey' and ‘Odivaa venmugil poley', both duets sung by Mahalingam and Rajakumari.

Joseph directed the film, and produced it assisted by M. Natesan, well-known costume maker of the day, who later became a producer-director. Veteran actress and the first star of Tamil Cinema T. P. Rajalakshmi played the queen mother.

An additional attraction was the dances by Lalitha and Padmini.

Excellently photographed (R. R. Chandran), the film was richly mounted (art direction Joseph Thaliath Jr.).

In spite of them all, Ithaya Geetham did not prove to be a box office success as expected. Joseph dubbed the film into Hindi under the title Jeevan Tara, but it sank without a trace.

The film was mostly shot at Citadel Studios in Kilpauk. Spacious, the studio had one entrance on Landon's Road, and the other on Poonamallee High Road where the Reserve Bank Staff Quarters stand today.

The Landon's Road part was sold to a Christian institution. Today only the cement stand with the name ‘CITADEL' exists today; everything else has changed.

Why ‘Citadel'? (Years later, Nagoor told this writer that the favourite novel of Joseph was the famed A. J. Cronin's ‘The Citadel' which he wished to make as his first film. Nagoor advised his friend that Tamil Cinema would not accept such a story, and as a consolation, Joseph named his company ‘Citadel'!)

Remembered for impressive production values, tuneful music and the stunning Rajakumari.

RANDOR GUY

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