Koottu kudumbam (1969)
Koottukudumbam ( The Joint Family) was KPAC’s (read Thoppil Bhasi) statement against the existing rot that had set in social structure of the Joint Family system (the matriarchal kind) that was the foundation of Kerala’s traditional family system. Thoppil Bhasi‘s aim was to incite a re-look into the entire concept (which was already beginning to sway against the socialist winds of change that was blowing across the state), and was reasonably successful in translating what he had in mind on stage. Koottukudumbam’s screen version also saw the debut of one of the fantastic actors Malayalam cinema has been blessed to have, that of KPAC Lalitha. She played the same part of Saraswathi, the youngest daughter of the Joint Family on screen too, the silent, suffering woman who at last lashes out against her husband, as she is pushed to her limits. The film was memorable for her fabulous songs set to music by G Devarajan for lyrics by Vayalar.
Here is one of my favorites, Indraneela Yavanika.
Ningalenne Communistaakki (1970)
Though the seminal drama production debuted in December, 1952, it took another two decades for its screen adaptation to materialise. As usual, the team set out to create an entirely new set of songs for the screen adaptation as the play and its songs had by then become a part of Kerala’s social folk tradition. And who else but Sathyan, who took on the mantle of the pivotal role that O Madhavan played as the feudal landlord. The movie in itself was also full of innovative camera work, angles and lighting, and on afterthought, none could have done justice to the lead role that the legendary Sathyan.
Here is the melodious Ambalapparambile Aaramathile from the movie.
Sarasayya (1971) was one of the early sequels in Malayalam Cinema. The movie was the follow-up to KPAC’s Ashwamedham (1963), Thoppil Bhasi’s powerful message against the existing ostracism against leprosy in the Malayali society was equally powerful when it was adapted to screen. The sequel retained the lead characters of Sathyan and Sheela and no one else. The story was about the life together after Sheela’s character gets completely cured of leprosy and yet the family and her loved ones refuse to accept her back into their circle. What was interesting was the fact the progressive-minded Doctor’s wife had changed in the sequel too! Sukumari had magically given way to KPAC Lalitha and the ‘wife’ looked ill-at-ease and contrived essaying the role of the haughty, loud, pseudo-firangi spoilt-rich wife of Sathyan.
Here is Mukham, Manassinte Kannadi from the film
Produced and directed by Thoppil Bhasi, this was a faithful adaptation of his popular theater production at KPAC. It also had a very young Bharathan as the Art Director. Survey Kallu ( the boundary partitions denoted by stone blocks usually laid out by the land surveyor from the local office) served a s a metaphor on the disputes with the land that drove the main protagonist Pappukkaranavar and the boundaries that form between the love of the two leading couples in the film. He also brings in the concept of the respect associated with honest, hard physical labor and reaping its fair harvest too through the movie.
Vayalar ONV-Devarajan ( Thank you Susheel )teamed up once again for some melodious songs, the personal favorite has to be Mandakini.
The song Mandakini from Survey kallu (1976)
The information regarding the original play as well as the adaptation is beyond me at this point. Other than the facts that it was again directed by Thoppil Bhasi and the team of ONV-K Raghavan Master coming out with memorable compositions once again, sadly, that’s all there is I have at this point.
Well, what do you know. A dear friend writes in, “Yudhakandam is about the artist and his perspective and how it differs from society .. mazhu.. 🙂 sorry Madhu is an artist, also singer and spoken for in marriage.. his habit of hob-nobbing with women models who pose for him in the nude for his paintings is taken badly by the bride-to-be and the world around him and the marriage is cancelled. But actually all that is only in the minds of others, and not in the artist and he later goes along with one of his models I think, I think that is the end…” And as I mentioned, the songs are memorable.
Here is Shyama Sundara Pushpame from Yudhakaandam (1977)
Kayyum Thalayum Purathidaruthu (1985)
Kayyum Thalayum Purathidaruthu was arguably Malayalam Cinema’s first Road Movie once it got adapted to screen. The whole movie revolved around this journey of a Fast Passenger to Trivandrum with an assortment of characters that even includes a convict on his way to incarceration at the Central jail in the capital.
The title of the movie was an inside pun on the usual warning found inside all public vehicles in Kerala, loosely translated means Keep your Head and Limbs inside the Bus! Bharath Gopi was the affable Bus Conductor who inevitably becomes involved in the entire proceedings as the Bus hurtles towards a fiery climax. Directed by P Sreekumar, the lyrics were by Mullanezhi, set to music by Raveendran. The story and screenplay were handled by the Maestro himself. One of Raveendran Master’s early classics, Aakasha Neelima rendered by KJ Yesudas is still remembered for its sonic texture.
Listen to the song here.