Think Kamal Hassan, Rajinikanth, Gemini Ganesan, Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair and Adoor Bhasi together in a movie😀, or Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth together in a Malayalam film, that too in Cinemascope ! You could also think of it as Rajinikanth’s
only first Malayalam movie. Or the only Malayalam movie in the career portfolio of our legendary Helen .🙂 Thankfully, the movie just doesn’t arise over that. Allauddinum Albutha Vilakkum ( Alladin and his Magic Lamp), directed by IV Sasi, was a bi-lingual, made in Malayalam and Tamil ( that explains Gemini Ganesan too😛 ). If completed on time, this would have also become the FIRST MALAYALAM MOVIE IN CINEMASCOPE, but sadly got delayed due to post-production issues. And Thacholi Ambu took the credit of our first movie in Cinemascope. The story closely followed the first film adaptation of the Magic Lamp fable in Indian cinema, the Telugu box-office hit , which was also bi-lingual, ( Telugu and Tamil), Allauddin Adhbhuta Deepam, directed by TR Raghunath starring the one and only ANR as Alladin, released in 1957. This in turn, was more or less faithful on the main story line from the one in the story from the The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights) to a certain point.
When it comes to our version, Sharief, has brought the conniving Grand Vizier ( not to be confused with the even-more-conniving Great Sorcerer ) and his son, the new commander-in-chief of the Kingdom of Baghdad to the forefront, pitching him right into the ring with Alladin, vying for the Princess Roshni’s hand. If you know of a better way to exploit the star power of Ulaga Nayagan vs Thaliavar on screen, I would love to know. Oh, by the way, this could also be called “The South in Tights” if you find the original title a mouthful. While the ‘original story progressed as a chase between the Grand Sorcerer and Alladin, here it is Grand Sorcerer vs Alladin vs Commander-in-Chief of the army of Baghdad. And to top it all, you have one really p***d-off, vengeful Commander-in-Chief who scarily resembles Rajinikanth onscreen, let loose in the punishing, sweltering Arabian desert wilderness, wearing tights. Oh, brother !
The story begins with the Grand Sorcerer ( Jose Prakash ) reading aloud from the ancient texts on the procedure to get his hands on the Magic Lamp, which is secure and hidden in a cave, deep in the Zara mountains, and it lies waiting for one of the descendents of Sadab-bin-Adat’s lineage to find it. To know the exact location, one would need to go on a punishing, rigorous penance of 1001 days and nights ( three years to you and me ) to propitiate Imran, the gate-keeper genie, who would then reveal the exact location of the cave and reveal the rightful heir’s identity.
The GS gets into the penance right away. And on the 1000th day, he just decides to take a break from the grueling schedule ( at least that what I felt) and arranges for a hip-shaking session , and guess who gets the gig? Helen, of course ! You still don’t believe me, do you ? Our very own Helen, lip-synching to “Madhurangikaley, sakhikaley” in three costume changes and a bevy of accompanying dancers who almost blind you with kitsch.
Here is Madhuraangikaley, sakhikaley | Sung by P Susheela | Music : Devarajan | Lyrics : Yusufali Kecheri. Ladies and gentlemen, Helen !
Anyways, Imran, who also seem to be a great fan of Helen and appears soon enough, and apprises the GS of the identity of the rightful heir to the lamp. It happens to be a certain Allauddin, the son of the late tailor Mustafa, a street brat with loads of attitude and nothing else. He is obviously unaware of this legacy and the supreme power it brings, so it would be easy to lay one’s hand on it, provided he gets it personally and hands it over. Imran also gives him a magic ring, to help him protect against the vicious sentinels in the cave who guard the Lamp. GS has a plan. He transforms his shape to resemble Allauddin’s sea-trader uncle, long presumed dead, and sells the story to his family that he has come to take his nephew to Basra and set him up in a business there. But enroute, they would take a detour, via the mountains.There is a Lamp that has to be taken from a certain cave.
The GS tricks the naive Allauddin into the cave, gives him the Ring but the cave looks straight out of a Ramseys’ horror flick. The inhabitants in the cave including hordes of Spectacled Cobras ( Indian Cobras in a cave in the Middle East..hmmm, the power of magic🙂 ), but the Ring ensures that he is unharmed.
Soon he chances upon the Magic Lamp and is on his way back out when the ‘Uncle’ reveals his true colors. Allauddin refuses to part with it now, and a frustrated GS seals him in. But, there is always the Ring. Imran, summoned by Allauddin through the Ring, safely gets him back home in Baghdad, where a ‘ chance fiddling around’ with the Lamp releases the Genie – Al-Ameen who as habit, greets his master with a bellowing Alampanah !
In no time, the lowly hovel and an equally wretched life of tailor Mustafa’s family is magically transformed ( from gaudy to more gaudy) by the Genie. He now owns a thriving trade in textiles in the heart of Baghdad, ably helped by his dear friend Abu Becker ( Jose). Allauddin’s first brush with the royalty comes in the form of a chance encounter ( literally) as he finds himself in the middle of an attack by a gang of thieves on an unsuspecting Prince and his entourage, as royal guests, enjoying a session of dancing and singing organised by the palace in a secluded part of the town. More belly-dancing !
Here is Pushpame | Sung by Vani Jayaram | Music : Devarajan | Lyrics : Yusufali Kecheri.
The Sultan ( a mellow, bored-looking Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair) personally commends his brave act and request him to come to the Court next day to collect his reward. His is visibly upset at his Commander-in-Chief Mir Qasim ( Kadal Mannan Gemini Ganesh, ill-at-ease, in a pair of an equally ill-fitting pair of tights). He is transferred to head the Royal Treasury, and the post of the C-in-C is now handed over to a young, brash, daring Kamaruddin, only son of the Grand Vizier Mohammed Hussain ( Adoor Bhasi, looking lethal ), on the latter’s strong recommendations and advice.
Kamaruddin resembles Thalaivar Rajinikanth a lot. Wait, it IS Rajinikanth.
With unquestionable power in his hands, Kamaruddin steps up his overtures in his ‘quest’ to marry the Princess Roshni ( Jaya Bharathy in harem pants, very IV Sasi-esque ), but, as usual, the sagely patriarch of the royal household, the royal Hakim/Maulvi ( Bahadoor in a mellow role ) appears in time and asks him to beat it. A bristling C-in-C can’t wait to strangle the sage in an opportune moment in the future. The Son discusses his next step with his equally ambitious, powerful father who is pathologically focused on capturing the throne of Baghdad. The Vizier asks him to keep at it. Surely, it would be a double bonanza. Two events happen in quick succession which would put the celestial spanner into the Grand Vizier’s per scheme. Allauddin hears from dear friend Abu’s father about the ravishing, ethereal beauty of Princess Roshni and is smitten. This is soon after the royal messengers arrive in the main market place, announcing the impending ritual of the Princess and her entourage visiting the Royal Bath nearby for her annual ceremonial bath, coinciding with her birthday ( Oh, the wily IV Sasi ).
The messengers repeat the stern warning given annually. “No one is supposed to be around as the entourage passes through. Not a single soul should be present anywhere near the area. The marketplace will remain closed.” The smitten Allauddin, meanwhile, has a slightly different plan. As a result, the annual ritual, this time around, comes with Cupid in tow, for the Princess.
Chandanam Kadanjedutha aka the Royal Bathing Ritual, set to music.
At the palace, the Grand Vizier impresses upon the Sultan the need to have the princess married to a young suitor in Baghdad itself, knowing the deep attachment the Sultan has for his daughter, and slyly suggests his son as a befitting choice. The Sultan is astonished, and thankful. Surely, he should have thought of this before ! Project Baghdad seems to be gaining momentum, for the wily Grand Vizier. A thrilled Sultan runs it by the Patriarch. He is not amused. Cupid seems to be trying out both extremes in Allauddin’s life of love. Unknown to him, there is another heart pining for him in the background, Abu’s sister Jameela ( Sripriya). Overhearing her parents’ plan to get her married off, she just can’t help but put two and two together.
Here is Maaran korutha maala | Sung by Dr KJ Yesudas | Music : Devarajan | Lyrics : Yusufali Kecheri.
The Sultan thinks its time for a quality audit, and along with his trusted Vizier, goes to town in disguise (!) to check how his subjects are faring and to know what they think of the sovereign’s governance, first hand. Unfortunately, they find themselves under attack from a band of mounted thugs who have suddenly materialised out of the night, and the Sultan has no option but to unsheath his sword and fight for dear life, under disguise, don’t forget that ! And who happens to pass by and jumps in with his sword? Allauddin, aha ! The dashing fighter, though is badly wounded but manages to save the life of the Sultan and his Vizier. A mighty thankful and p***d Sultan minces no words, back at the palace, in letting it known to his new C-in-C about the previous night’s unfortunate events and the audacity of the thugs. A bristling C-in-C can’t wait to hunt them down personally. The mortally wounded Allauddin is healed by the magic powers of the Genie, and now doubles his efforts in making the Princess know of what his heart yearns.
The Princess also reciprocates in kind, not before we are put through a very familiar IV Sasi – esque scenario of the Princess in disguise (!) at Allauddin’s shop, and the loverboy seeing through it, even goes a step ahead in an elaborate ‘measuring-tape ritual’ that borders on soft-porn ! Seriously.
The disguise must have proved effective at some level, or it must have been the ‘measuring ritual’, because it doesn’t take long for the two loving hearts into break out into a song, where we are served with, a whole lot more disguises, most of which, does not even need a measuring tape.
Here is Ee Alaavuddeenin | Sung by Dr KJ Yesudas | Music : Devarajan | Lyrics : Yusufali Kecheri.
Unable to wait any longer to lead a life together, Allauddin plays it by the numbers. He sends his mother to the palace, accompanied by a bevy of attendants bearing expensive gifts, as is protocol, so that his mother can broach the subject of a possible alliance with her son. The Sultan is livid. How dare does the family of a lowly tailor ever even dream of such a thing ? She narrowly escapes with her life, the Sultan is seething. he also has his doubts on how this lowly tailor’s family could afford the expensive gifts . Surely, he must have stolen it. Kamaruddin also seconds the opinion. In no time, Allauddin is bundled up and thrown at the feet of the Sultan and is sentenced to death.
But Fate, in the form of the sagely Hakim will have none of it. he sees through the ‘plan’ and overrides the Sultan’s orders. “Release him“, he says. ” I can vouch for the lad’s honesty and integrity.” The Sultan complies. Kamaruddin can’t wait to chop the old head off. Back at his palace, Kamaruddin opts for some detox, and in comes one of the Sultanat’s best belly-dancers. ( Am taking an educated guess here, people.)
Here is Sringaaraponkinnam | Sung by Vani Jayaram | Music : Devarajan | Lyrics : Yusufali Kecheri.
Meanwhile, Jameela’s dreams lie shattered as a visibly Allauddin explains to her that she had always been his little sister, and will always be. (Oh, the wily IV Sasi ). But Providence seems to take pity on Jameela and isn’t soon that she falls on the radar of Kamaruddin. The C-in-C, on the other hand is weary of his soulless wagers against good tidings to drive his evil ambitions and wants to give it all up for true love. In comes Jameela. Though in typical Kamaruddin fashion, the physical ties come first, and then the spiritual ones.
At the palace, the Hakim insists on the the Princess being given away to Allauddin, as he understands it is the Princess’ desire too.Kamaruddin wants this matter closed, once and for all. “A duel with him!“, he says, “let the winner be the One.” And in true gladiator style, the two lug it out, with the entire kingdom in attendance and of course, a horde of ‘belly-dancers.’ ( the early form of cheerleaders, I presume ). Allauddin whips the daylights out of the C-in-C, who in the end, chastened, finds in Allauddin his best friend. Aha! Kamruddin also broaches the subject of his desire to marry Jameela to his new-found best friend first. Allauddin is overjoyed.Things seem to be falling in place at last. But it doesn’t take long for a disgruntled courtier to turn things upside-down. Mir Quasim also moonlights as the head of the thug brigade and has an eye on the Princess ( Once a Kadhal mannan, always a Kadhal mannan )and kidnaps her to his desert lair. It isn’t long before the new buddies, along with a little help from the genie rescues her. The Kadhal mannan escapes into the desert with his life. His gang is decimated. And who gives the dehydrated, depressed, despondent Kaadhal mannan refuge in the merciless desert ? Our Grand Sorcerer, of course !
With his new ally, Mir Quasim revises the original plan. The GS first takes the form of a wayfaring stranger who requests shelter for the night at Allauddin’s place, who turns out to be the GS, who manages to steal the magic lamp and disappear. Very soon, he takes the form of Kamaruddin and kidnaps the Princess in full view of her companions. A very p****ed off Allauddin arrives at his best buddy’s palace, to finish him off and rescue his beloved, but Imran stops them. He reveals the devious ploy of the GS, offers to get them to his lair in the desert, but after that, he is powerless. That is more than enough for Kamruddin and Allauddin.
Once the Princess is in the lair, the Grand Sorcerer reveals his true colors. As far he is concerned, Mir Quasim can go fly a kite or race a camel, because he has decided to keep the Magic Lamp AND the Princess. Kadhal Mannan’s composure is under sever attack, one can discern a tectonic shift happening deep inside, beyond the realm of the tights. But its too late. Ulaganayagan and Thalaivar in Tights are at the door. And they are mighty p***d. The GS gets the hammering that he will never forget for at least a couple of possible sequels, Allauddin is reunited with the Princess and the Magic Lamp, and Kamruddin gets a spiritual high out of pulverising the living daylights off the poor Grand Sorcerer. All is well that ends well. As far as Mir Quasim is concerned, ummm..the VCD has been silent on that subject. It ended abruptly though, I suspect, at the silent request of the hapless Treasurer of Baghdad.