|Directed by||Veenai S. Balachander|
|Produced by||AVM Productions|
|Narrated by||Javar Seetharaman|
|Music by||AVM music troupe|
|Editing by||S. Surya|
|Release dates||13 April 1954|
|Running time||130 min.|
Andha Naal (English: That Day!) is a 1954 Indian crime mystery film in Tamil directed by Veenai S. Balachander. It is arguably the first film-noir in Tamil cinema and is the first Tamil film to be made without songs. The film was inspired by the 1950 Akira Kurosawa film Rashômon. However, in contrast to Rashômon, the film's climax provides a solution to the murder using an Indian proverb as a vital clue.
The film revolves around a murder of Radio Engineer Rajan (Sivaji Ganesan), with suspects being five characters: Rajan's wife Usha (Pandari Bai), Chinnaiah Pillai, Rajan's brother Pattabi, Rajan's sister-in-law Hema, and dancer Ambujam (also Rajan's Mistress). Each one recounts an incident which points to a new suspect. Sivanandam then uses clues in the victim's room, serendipitous leads, and understands the characters' persona, and uses the knowledge to identify the culprit.
On the night of 11 October 1943, the Japanese bombed the Indian city of Madras (now known as Chennai), causing commotion all over the city. In Triplicane the next morning, Rajan (Sivaji Ganesan), a radio engineer and communications researcher, is found murdered with his own hand gun. His neighbour Chinnaiah Pillai (P. D. Sambandam) hears the gunshot and complains to the police. A local Police Inspector named Purushothaman Naidu arrives and investigates the scene. He is joined by C.I.D. officer Sivanandam (Javar Seetharaman) there. He concludes that the killer is some petty thief who must have shot Rajan for the lump of money found in the same room of the crime scene. However, Sivanandam states that to be a bad solution, as the amount of money matches exactly with the withdrawal entry in the bank passbook found in the same room, without a single rupee's difference. Nonetheless, it was clear Rajan was making plans to leave Chennai in anticipation of the bombings. Rajan's wife Usha (Pandari Bai) is almost dumbstruck and unable to speak during any inquiries. Sivanandam and Naidu feel reluctant and embarrassed to do any questioning to her.
The two decide to investigate the case by questioning the people in and around the house, who are the family members or friends of Rajan. They start their questioning with Chinnaiah Pillai, the neighbour, as he is the first to inform them. He tells that the killer could probably be Pattabi, Rajan's younger brother (T. K. Balachandran). He recounts an incident (as flashback), in which Pattabi confronts Rajan at the house's garage to ask for his share of the family property to be apportioned and given to him. Rajan, in good faith, denies to give Pattabi his share, feeling that he and his wife might squander it. Chinnaiah concludes that this would have caused Pattabi to kill Rajan.
Sivanandam and Naidu decide to inquire Pattabi. However, Pattabi had rushed to the Beach before their arrival, probably to commit suicide. They rush there themselves to inquire him. When questioned, Pattabi feels remorseful of his brother's death. He states that he did not treat his brother well when he was alive and failed to understand his good intentions. He recounts another incident where his wife Hema, had fought with him herself, during dinner for the apportionment of the property. She is also a person who loses sanity when overpowered by anger. Pattabi believes it is easily possible that Hema used the Rajan's gun to shoot him for the money.
Sivanamdam briefly parts Naidu, to meet Hema soon after, to do his inquiry. Hema was initially impudent and refusing to give her statement about the crime, but later gives in when threatened that her husband would be arrested for the same. She reveals a secret of Rajan. Rajan has had an extramarital affair with a dancer named Ambujam (Suryakala). Only a week before the murder, she found this out when she stumbled upon and overheard Rajan and Ambujam conversing in some public place. During their conversation, Ambujam unveils that she is pregnant with Rajan's child. Rajan treats the news with a reckless attitude, infuriating Ambujam. Additionally, Hema had received a letter addressed to Rajan from Ambujam, that had the address "No.15, Thoni Street". Hema proposes that Ambujam could have killed Rajan in retaliation to Rajan's lack of concern for her.
Fatigued with the case's complicated nature, Naidu compares it with a supposed "Peruvala Vaikal" in Trichy, a river that has a lot of twists and turns. Sivanandam makes a better analogy of the case, to the story of "blind men and an elephant", in which he states each suspect has a different and contrasting opinion to offer. On Thoni Street, Ambujam leaves her house, at the news of Rajan's death, to go out of town. Thirty minutes after her departure, Sivanandam and Naidu arrive to find the house locked. They take with them Shanmugam, Ambujam's servant boy, to the police station and inquire him on the physical features of Ambujam, to locate and recognize her, but in a coincidence, Ambujam's bullock-cart and another bicycle strike each other in a road accident, right in front of the very same police station. They identify and inquire Ambujam.
Ambujam accuses Chinnaiah (Rajan's neighbour whom they had inquired as the very first suspect) of the murder. She explains that Chinnaiah was her foster father, who wanted her to stay away from Rajan. She started loving him after the trio's meeting in a picnic. When their relationship started deepening, Chinnaiah got infuriated and wanted to put an end to the affair. Ambujam gives a strong opinion that it must have been Chinnaiah who killed Rajan.
Sivanandam does his homework by developing the film roll found in Rajan's camera, collecting and comparing all of the suspects' and others' fingerprints with those found in Rajan's shoes, finding a teardrop mark in Rajan's shoes and finding broken bangle pieces on the crime scene. He finds that they further complicate the case and the case comes to nowhere. He gets small clue at a sharbat shop, apparently making no sense. He make inquiries to Rajan's college (Victoria College) principal Ranganathan, who has a good opinion of both Rajan and Usha, his wife, both being his alumni. He says Rajan once broke into the college laboratory at night, to complete an experiment, for which he never felt guilty, and Usha once put up the Indian flag as part of Freedom Movement and accepted doing it herself. This emphasizes her patriotism.
Sivanandam finally inquires Usha. She narrates an incident during college where Rajan spoke of individualistic needs that are equally as important as the country's freedom. He managed to convince the entire crowd of his viewpoint, who previously opined in contrary. However, he was bullied and disdained when Usha took over and changed the crowd back to "giving your life for the nation". Usha further tells Sivanandam on how she and Rajan came to love each other. In the process, he tricks into collecting Usha's fingerprints with a leaky fountain pen.
On that eve, Sivanandam meets all the suspects along with Naidu at Rajan's residence. He caries out an exercise wherein the suspects including Usha must shoot Sivanandam, assuming that he is Rajan. They are given revolvers with fake bullets. Everyone but Usha is able to shoot. Usha breaks down into tears and fails to shoot. Then Sivanandam orders an (apparent) arrest of Pattabi and Hema. Unable to bear the torture, Usha comes out with the truth. On the day of the murder, when she entered the room, she found Rajan working with something meticulously, with a radio equipment, powered by a generator. She believes that he is doing something suspicious. The second time she enters she discovers that he is part of the terrorist activity that involves bombing Chennai. Rajan was indeed communicating to the Japanese bombers, the suitable time for the bomb to be dropped. He is the key part for their plans. Out of her extreme patriotism for her nation, and unable to bear the injustice, she tries to talk and mend Rajan's ways. However, Rajan only wants to help the Japanese (who helped him with his radio business), and does not mind betraying his own country. Rajan has in fact, planned is to escape to Japan in a submarine after the bombing, for which he had packed the money. Usha, unable to stop him in any polite way, attempts to shoot Rajan. However, she then changes her mind but the trigger is accidentally pulled, killing Rajan. She has cried at his boots later, holding them, explaining the fingerprints and teardrop stain.
Sivanandam and Naidu ask for the papers Rajan used to hatch the bombing plan. She goes inside to fetch them. Sivanandam tells Naidu that the Usha's fingerprints (which he collected) and the ones on the boots matched, which led him to suspect her. Also, her failure to shoot during the exercise confirms the fact. When Usha takes a long time to come back, the two hear a moment's silence followed by a gunshot and they run inside. Sivanandam shouts "Usha!" followed by a screen closing behind them.
Cast and crew
- Sivaji Ganesan - Rajan
- Javar Seetharaman - CID Officer Sivanandam (he also wrote the script)
- Pandari Bai - Usha (Rajan's wife)
- T. K. Balachandran - Pattabi, Rajan's younger brother
- P. D. Sambandam - Chinniah Pillai
- Menaka - Hema
- Suryakala - Ambujam
- Veenai S. Balachander - Director
- Muktha. V. Sreenivasan - Assistant Director
- Maruti Rao - Cinematographer
- S. Surya - Editor
Andha naal (lit. That day) was the first Tamil film to have no song or stunt sequences. The film was inspired by Rashomon and the 1950 Anthony Asquith's film, The Woman in Question. It was produced by AVM Studios and directed by Veenai S. Balachander. The screenplay was written by Javar Seetharaman who also acted in the movie as a CID officer investigating a murder case. Muktha. V. Sreenivasan was the assistant director and Maruthi Rao was the cinematographer. The film was short (12,431 feet or 130 Minutes) when compared to other Tamil films of the 1950s (when 15000 feet was considered as normal length for films). Actor S. V. Sahasranamam was originally cast in the lead role, but was deemed "rather old" and was replaced by actor Calcutta N. Viswanathan, who for undisclosed reasons was eventually replaced by Sivaji Ganesan.
Andha naal was released on 13 April 1954 and received critical and public acclaim. But it was a commercial failure. Its failure to generate revenues meant no such film (without songs or stunts) was made again in Tamil for a long time. The film won the Certificate of Merit for the Second Best Feature Film in Tamil at 2nd National Film Awards. IBN Live included the film in its list of 100 greatest Indian films of all time.
- Thoraval, Yves (2000). The cinemas of India. India: Macmillan. p. 326. ISBN 0-333-93410-5, ISBN 978-0-333-93410-4.
- Baskaran, S. Theodore (1996). The eye of the serpent: an introduction to Tamil cinema. Chennai: East West Books. p. 174.
- Muthiah, S (2004). Madras rediscovered. Chennai: East West Books. p. 405. ISBN 81-88661-24-4, ISBN 978-81-88661-24-4.
- Blast from the past - Andha Naal (1954), The Hindu 12 December 2008
- Andha Naal – Thamizh (1954), PassionforCinema.com
- Film News Anandan (2004). Sadhanaigal padaitha Tamil Thiraipada Varalaaru (in Tamil). Chennai: Sivagami Publications. pp. 28:71.
- "Talent, charisma and much more". The Hindu. 27 July 2001. Archived from the original on 1 April 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
- "100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time". IBN Live. Retrieved 6 May 2013.