The Ragini chronicles in Sarangapani’s Vadakkan Pattukal

The early editions of Vadakkan pattukal that came out from Udaya studios had a delightful set of commonalities. The scripts were either by TK Sarangapani or N Govindankutty, and until Sheela came along, it was Ragini who brought to life the women-centric ballads onscreen. I have tried to feature the ones that TK Sarangapani and Ragini came together in this post, and then go on to the similar roles Ragini did in other Malayalam Cinema productions (both for Udaya and others), and onto the Vadakkan Pattukal scripted by N Govindankutty.

Unniyarcha (1961)

Ragini in and as Unniyarcha (1961)
The genre of Vadakkan pattukal in Malayalam cinema as we know it, starts with Udaya Studio’s Unniyarcha (1961). In addition to creating  a genre out of thin air, Sarangapani also set the template for all the future ones to follow.  Iwould say with some reasonable amount of conviction that even Unniyarcha (1961) was the blueprint for Hariharan‘s magnum opus Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha (1989), even to the point of borrowing sequences and scenes, but with a far greater sensibility of the medium than its Black and White predecessor.

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The Kerala Samurais in Technicolor

KP Ummer and Srividya in Thumbolarcha Though the Northern Ballads and its variations had been adapted to local folk theater, I think the reigning God of Malayalam film production Sri. Kunchacko who owned the biggest studio  of those times, Udaya saw the mother lode of a possibility by translating them on screen. Sri.Kunchacko, I think, was the Yash Chopra of the Malayalam film industry.He started off the filmi ballads with Unniarcha, a B& W production, in 1961.

Sri.Kunchacko added variations, brought in new characters, spun off sub-stories, all of them wrapped up in the same gaudy, kitschy costume trains and ornaments borrowed straight from the local theater. I always thought there was a divine connection between the bright and flaring silk embellishments to its ‘original’ counterparts across the sea, the Samurais of Japan! 🙂

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