As I mentioned about the timeless relevance of Harishchandra’s story as juicy meat for a film producer, I wonder how it would fare if someone were to make it today, when you have the best of the technical advancements available along with the sensibilities of our times. My guess is that it would fall flat on its face and the Producers know that. Harischandra (1955) was the first mythological film in Malayalam that was successful, prompting Merryland and Neela Productions to produce ‘blockbusters’ like Bhakta Kuchela,’ ‘Sree Guruvayurappan,’ ‘Devi Kanyakumari’, and Kumarasambhavam amongst others in the 69-odd movies that were produced in Merry Land. Harishchandra was directed by Antony Mithradas which has been erroneously credited to P Subramaniam on the cover of the VCD that I have ! Harischandra (1955), is according to B Vijayakumar, a scene-by-scene ripoff of the Kannada version from 1943 and the Tamil indigenous production from 1944 (starring the legendary PU Chinnappa and Kannamba ) which surprisingly didn’t fare as well as the dubbed version from Kannada!
It was the passing away of Adoor Pankajam that was the reason that made yours truly sit and watch Ponkathir (1953) one more time. Of the 13 songs, (actually 12 excluding the traditional Anjana Sreedhara), by the Br.Lakshmanan-Thirunayinaarkurichi Madhavan Nair team, there is this one, Padoo Maanasame Padoo that sounds suspiciously close to Lataji’s classic Laage Jabse Nain Laage from Daag (1952) !
The songs output of the Malayalam films from the early 60’s have always surprised me, specially the creative output of the Br.Lakshmanan-Thirunayinaarkurichi Madhavan Nair team, with most of their movies averaging at least 10 songs or more.
Another artiste that was a part of the Malayalam Cinema for five decades, passed away silently into the dusty public memory archives. Five decades, ladies and gentlemen ! ( Read that against the shelf life of the current crop of actors who do not go beyond single digits). As the famous Adoor Sisters of Malayalam Cinema, with the elder sibling, Adoor Bhavani, they were a delightful combination, whose characterizations was almost pigeonholed for their roles on screen. As the elder one brought the vile, acerbic mother-in-law or the brooding, muttering Granny to life on screen, Pankajam was the brash, spunky and loud wife/grandmother – and the duo, regardless of whatever the demands of the script, mostly rendered their lines in the sing-song tone of central Travancore, something that was always a delight to listen to. It must also have been because of the fact that Adoor was a stone’ throw away from our little hamlet.