MT’s Films | Kuttyedathi (1971)

Kuttyedathi (title)

Kuttyedethi (Kutty, the Elder Sister) created something of a revolution in popular film viewing when it was released in 1971. There wasn’t anything quite like it  that the Malayalam movie fraternity had ever witnessed on screen. Directed by PN Menon, with MT’s script, here was Kutty ( Vilasini), the part-tomboy, part-introvert, with a tongue that could slice through steel and a defiance to meaningless tradition, that almost bordered on arrogance, and beneath all, she still craved  a growing woman’s simple pleasures of life. She couldn’t throw a coquettish glance at a man in the village, her simmering rage mostly took matters into its own hand beforehand, and  she lived through this everyday-act of defiance, knowing that, when it came to beauty, Providence had been really, really unkind. Her defiance was a sort of psychological compensation to mask away the pain of her lack of beauty. Of her obsessed masochistic rebels of the village, the most prominent one is Kuttishankaran ( Kuthiravattam Pappu) who would go on to play a very important part in the turn of events in her life.

Jaya Bharathy in Kuttyedethi She has a daily reminder to gauge Providence’s generosity in feminine beauty, in the form of her younger sister Janu (Jayabharathy in a brilliant role) at home, who takes Kuttyedathi for granted in the domestic responsibilities {“Hey, she knows to do it, so let her do it  – goes Janu’s refrain}. Her best friend is Vasu (Master Sathyajith), her young cousin who is her number one fan, conscience keeper, lieutenant, friend and brother-in-arms in every unorthodox ‘mission’ undertaken between them. Kuttyedathi gets all dressed upBeing the eldest of the two, its Kuttyedethi who has to be married off first in the traditional social scheme of things and their Maternal uncle,  (SP Pillai in a moving, tragi-comic role) who gets the suitors from across the countryside to the house for the prospective groom to meet her so that a possible alliance could be worked on. But, every one of them end up liking the younger Janu who always makes it a point to be ‘seen’ by them, mostly as a means of re-affirming her vanity about being the only sunshine-beauty  spot of the dreary household.

With each prospective alliance ending on auto-destruct, the frustration,  sadness, desperation most of  the times snowball themselves into  Kuttyedethi getting the short end of the stick for the slightest misdemeanor. And with her, they are a-plenty. Kuttyedethi‘s mind is a now a volatile cocktail, with new and unknown chemicals being added into the mix, mixed with the absolute lack of self-worth in her physical beauty, she mind is on  an “over-eagerness  -to- please ” mode with the next man she meets. She very cleverly masks this with her tomboyish attitude and her devil-may-care reactions.

Her aunt – little Vasu’s mother ( P Shantha Devi in one of the best roles in her entire career) is her refuge when all hell  breaks loose, the one who genuinely wants this lass to ‘succeed’.  Disgusted and tired at the way things are happening at her ‘social acceptance’ front, she zeroes in the most probable factor that contributes largely to her ‘rejections’ – the wart on the nape of her neck that almost generates revulsion, or so she feels. And she decides to remove that once and for all with a kitchen knife and some self-surgery on a drowsy afternoon. A blood bath, horrible pain and a prominent scar are the favorable results of the surgery. The last last entourage that comes in to meet Kuttyedathi, on seeing Janu wants the proposal to be finalised  with her as the bride and returns. The family is thrown in a quandary. You just cannot marry away the younger one with the elder one staying bachelor ! It was just not right.

Kutteydethi, also has an interesting, almost undefinable love-hate relationship with Appunni ( Sathyan),  low-caste, defiant, brash  and genuinely besotted by Kuttyedethi, and has mastered this marvelous way to flirt with her, always ready with a mischievous retort – its as if Kuttyedethi has met her match in Appunni. Things take an interesting turn as a new tenant moves in to the neighboring house, with an “eye on the unspoilt beauty” of the verdant village. Appunni is a stone-cutter by profession and lives alone at the top of a hill, and also makes the most imposing and majestic wooden horses for the village temple feast ( a ritualistic requirement). Anyone who has been at the wrong side of his tongue keep it unforgettable and unforgiven for their entire lives. And it has also made him more enemies than friends in the village.

Meanwhile  Janu gets ‘very, very close’ with the new neighbor but keeps it a secret from everyone, including Kuttyedathi. The latter, meanwhile chances upon them, but Janu is defiant and unrepentant and even berates her for her act. It acts as a catalyst in her scheme of things to ‘prove herself’, also realising for the first time that Appunni would be the  only refuge in her turbulent life. She would do the unthinkable very soon, shocking the village, as she sets herself in the direction of  Appunni’s hut on the top of the hill. Janu, meanwhile is devastated as her paramour advises her to agree to the pending marriage proposal as he wouldn’t be able to marry her for personal reasons. And the evening bears witness to  shocking events, culminating with the final act at early dawn. For what transpired, you would have to watch the movie.

So, is there a DVD/VCD of the Movie available?
Yes, in VCD format, thanks to Highness Videos.

What about the quality?

Crappy with a neon flashing C !

English Subtitles?
You should be joking !


Next : Kuttyedathi (1971) | Memorable character sketches

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11 thoughts on “MT’s Films | Kuttyedathi (1971)

  1. Great article!
    I had seen Kuttiyedathey in my childhood (again, on VHS). MT’s stories were so much like my parents ‘native place’ in Valluvanad. Mom and Dad would often comment on the social situation those days, especially caste considerations and the grind of poverty.
    This movie was realistic in the sense it depicted the background scenes and locations: the topless men :), the tropical environment (accentuated by B&W), the bare, crumbling tarawads and the noise and din of the local temple festival, which was the only benue where boys and girls could ogle at each other and size each other up (Ancient version of Facebook , eh?), something I’ve witnessed a few years back at a temple festival near my Dad’s family home.
    I liked the ‘cow dung’ scene next to the pond very much- especially the humorous insinuation at the end where perhaps, Pappu’s character is revealed to be the illegitimate son of the Karnavar! (maybe I’m wrong- please correct me)
    The scene where JC and janu ‘make out’ was quite ‘farward’ for those days, I think.
    Philomena’s role was a real terror, and espcially towards the end when she hears news of Kuttiyedathey having gone off to meet the stone cutter and she yells out her name with rolling eyes. But the tragedy towards the end was something sad and necessary, too. I’d have wished if Kuttiyedathey had became a Naxalite- that would have worked out well (especially in a remake nowadays)- God Forbid!

    • Dear BGS,
      Great to hear from a true-blue Valluvanadan :) MT, I feel at times was the Badshah of Bitterness, in print or on screen, and hence that cow-dung scene was a surprise. You almost sighed with relief and thanked him, for giving you a break from the bitterness, albeit for a short bit. Also would love to know of the movies SP Pillai and Kuthiravattam Pappu have come together. Just curious.Philomena was a legend, and Vilasini has mentioned in one of her interviews how Philomena ( who was a quite popular and bankable star actor in theater from the Malabar circuit )went out of the way professionally and personally to help her grow as an actor.Kuttyedathi as a Naxalite – what a wonderful idea, quite plausible too.:D ( MT gave that in Panchagni, though in tad subtle tones, didn’t he? ) .Thanks..cinematters

  2. cine mattersjee.. you wont find a better print of KUTTYEDATHI in any part of this world… DOORDARSAN has got better audio and video clarity prints of almost all black and white films.. (PANI THEERATHA VEEDU, AZHAKULLA SALENA, etc rare exceptions) and their print of KUTTYEDATHI is also much similar to the one available in market

    • Dear Gopalji,
      When it comes to ‘quality’ of old films available, I have set my expectations at zero, so that anything above that is an added bonus for me :) I am in the process of organising and getting a high-end Home Studio Suite and once done intend to take each one and restore them to the best of my abilities, frame by frame, working on the audio and the frames. And Kuttyedathi is right on top of my list :) regards..cinematters

  3. M T VASUDEVAN NAIR badly wanted SATHYAN MASTER in this film.. but neither M T nor others dare to go near Sathyan and ask his dates for this film simply because Sathyan was not the HERO of that film and in the end his character was physically beaten and hurt by BALAN K NAIR… moreover they feared that Sathyan master might ask heavy amount as remuneration and the makers wanted to complete this film on minimal budget.. but M T HAD DECIDED VERY MUCH EARLIER TO INCLUDE SATHYAN AT ANY COST and later somehow they approached SATHYAN master and after reading the script sathyan master’s reaction was like this…

    “OH!! EE VESHAM ENIYYKKE CHERUKAYULLU.. KARUTHU THADICHA MARAMVETTU KAARAN ennalle M T EZHUTHIYIRIYKKUNNATHU.. ATHUKONDU ENIKKULLA MAKE-UP OZHIVAAKKI KURE KAASUM PRODUCERKU LAABHICKAM”

    It was the first noticed movie of BALAN K NAIR, who earlier used as dupe for many other heroes of Bollywood and Tamil..

    • Wow ! That was some fascinating trivia. Thank you for being around. I am all ears for more. ‘Economy’ has always been MT’s operative word in any project that he has been directly involved in – not the big budget capers like Pazhassiraja, but the ones from his early years, specially when he is the director for the project. With Kuttyedathi, I guess it must have been one close to his heart and the being the early years, he would have involved himself in a much greater degree than now. Thanks so much for bringing it here. Regards..cinematters

    • Dear Jay,
      The very same who sadly ended his life years later, something that tore apart P Santhadevi’s life. She mentioned in one of her last interviews that she would carry the grief and pain of that incident to her grave. . cinematters

  4. What a wonderful write-up. Vilasini chechi used to be our neighbor for the short time we were in Trivandrum ( My dad was on a job deputation). She had the same streak of independence, a strong sense of fair and right and had a generous heart. I guess it was all these that also led to many sad situtations later in her personal life, from what i could read in the press. Thank you for bringing back those memories. hats off to you!

    • Dear Rajesh,
      I will not be IMDB’d into submission :D . It is a wonderful movie that needs to be viewed and experienced. I could be the proverbial disgruntled-with-the-tip-usher and send you the ending by mail. what say? No, I would rather not.. Regards, CM

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