50 years since Malayalam Cinema went Color with Kandam Becha Coat (1961 )

Kandam Becha Coat (1961) 50 years of Glorious Color !

Not that Black & White was bad, ( am still a sucker for its other-worldly charm and depth ), but with Kandam Becha Coat [ The Pawned Coat], I feel Malayalam Cinema stepped into our own universe from its erstwhile dreamy celluloid one. Kandam Becha Coat, adapted from a play by the same name, was also the first directorial attempt of TR Sundaram ( and also his last, I think) in Malayalam. T R Sundaram’s Modern Theaters who produced the film, had interestingly produced the first color movie in Tamil too, Alibabavum Narpathu Thirudargalum (1955 ). Incidentally, it was Modern Theaters who also made the FIRST TALKIE in Malayalam, Balan (1938) !

Kandam Bacha Coat, was the first social ‘drama’ onscreen set amongst the Muslim community made for the screen, according to B Vijay Kumar, and was also the debut of Nellikkodu Bhaskaran, the legendary theater personality, and KT Mohammed’s first outing as script writer for the screen. Even though Kandam becha Coat ushered in a revolutionary experience onscreen, I guess it took at least a decade for Malayalam film production to whole-heartedly embrace the new technology. Even in this pioneering decade, the few notable color productions that could be recalled is Chemmeen (1966), Kalli Chellamma (1969) and Nadi (1969), according to me.

Kalli Chellamma‘s title cards proudly proclaim ORWO Color, which was one of the popular formats, I guess, of those times. Eastman Color smothered the market by mid – 70’s If am not mistaken, and ruled over for two decades with their signature tones. The main reason why I love the Vadakkan Pattukal on Celluloid 🙂 The Color, man, the color ! 🙂

A Quick Trip through Early Color.

Chemmeen (1966)
Title Card from Chemmeen

Kalli Chellamma (1969)

From Kalli Chellamma (1969)
Check out the Greens, the Yellows, the Greys and the Blues !

Nadi (1969)

From Nadi (1969)
The Bold Tones. Also Prem Nazir can't play a chord to save his life !

The first Northern Ballad in Color from Udaya, Aromalunni (1972)

Title Card from Aaromalunni
My Favorite in Title Cards by S Konnanaattu

Here is the title track (if it could be called that) from Kandam Becha Coat.

What is your favorite memory from the 70’s Technicolor movies ?

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15 thoughts on “50 years since Malayalam Cinema went Color with Kandam Becha Coat (1961 )

  1. it was produced by Modern Theatres Salem. i know a person who worked in this movie. his name is Nathan. he is a tamilian but is settled in Chalai in Trivandrum. He was behind the sriptwriting of the said movie and worked as an intermediary between Modern Theatres and the scriptwriter (I think Shri. KT Mohammed wrote the script- subject to correction).
    Mr. Nathan is now a busy pulp fiction novelist in Tamil who has a running series featuring a lawyer- detective and is also an editor of a Tamil newspaper

    1. Dear Narayanji,
      A living archive ! Possible to get his memories of the Modern Theaters times ? It would be a fabulous initiative. Would love to meet him next time I’m in Trivandrum. Got his address? Thank you so much..regards..cinematters

  2. Personally I like the Eastman format better than the HD format of these days…also the video master prints of Thomusn:) HD is too clear..for me:)

    1. Very true. At times it looks as if the soul is missing. Its so clean that it looks plastic 🙂 Rafa Video and Thomsun ruled the market once upon a time..regards..cinematters

  3. Yes..thats the one…opp Sainik Road..you could take that road to St. Andrews Puthukuruchy etc..Is Kandam Vecha Coat available anywhere?

    1. Ah ! Availability !The BIG question. Not as the crappy VCDs that I know of, in the market. Am sure, it should be around with private collectors, the Thomsun VHS tapes archivists that you so truly mentioned..Will keep you posted if one pops up..regards..cinematters

      1. i recorded it when ASIANET PLUS channel telecasted it some 3 – 4 yeras ago. i recorded it in good clarity VCD PAL FORMAT.

  4. He He.. My first was “Cheenavala”..it must have been ORWO..I am not sure. The screen had the typical flashing dots of those times. The movie was in the middle of the screen. 35 mm it was called. 🙂 Later on in my favortie theater “Vetturoad Sreekala” now called “Harisree DTS” I watched Kannapanunni,RanduLokam, Puthiya Velicham,Manushya Mrigam. etc.Also a few more vadakkan pattu..movies.

    1. 🙂 The flashing dots were a staple, I guess the in-thing in design for the acid-tripping kitschy early 70’s. Cheenavala was Eastman Color 😀 THAT, I’m sure. Wasn’t Sreekala the one that enroute to the Kazhakootam Beach, on the road opposite to the one that lead to the Sainik School? The Vadakkan paattukal is rich enough for a post-doctoral thesis, if you ask me 🙂 .regards..cinematters

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