|Directed by||Kothamangalam Subbu|
|Produced by||S. S. Vasan|
|Written by||Kothamangalam Subbu
Gemini Studios Story Department
|Starring||K. B. Sundarambal
M. K. Radha
M. S. Sundari Bai
|Music by||M. D. Parthasarathy
|Edited by||N. K. Gopal|
|Distributed by||Gemini Studios|
Avvaiyar (Tamil: ஔவையார்) is a 1953 Tamil language Biography film directed by Kothamangalam Subbu. The film features K. B. Sundarambal and M. K. Radha in lead roles. The film, produced by S. S. Vasan under Gemini Studios.
When a childless couple find a baby left alone, they prefer to adopt her. Since they are rich and childless, they raise her in wealth and pomp. But when the girl grows up, she concentrates upon Lord Vinayaka and not thinking of marriage like other girls of her age. When the parents think of her marriage, she tries to escape from it, as she is devoted more to Lord Vinayaka. Hence, she prays to become an old-aged woman (as no young man likes to marry an old lady). Lord Vinayaka obliges and when others see it, they feel shell-shocked and understand what has happened. Now, this old woman is named Avvaiyar (K. B. Sundarambal). Avvaiyar leaves her parent's village to go around many places preaching Vinayaka's greatness through her songs. She also goes around and solves many problems. Impressed by her devotion, a local king and his two daughters ask her to stay at the court for some days. Avvaiyar is impressed by their hospitality and blesses them. And once again she goes around preaching and solving many problems. Now, after a long time, she once again comes across the two princesses, but in ordinary dress living in a hut. She then comes to know that their father's enemies killed him and imprisoned the person (Gemini Ganesan) who was to marry the two girls. Avvaiyar approaches the kings who were the slain king's former friends. But they refuse as they are afraid of the powerful enemies. Hence Avvaiyar herself goes to save Gemini Ganeshan. When she prays to Vinayaka, he sends many elephants towards the enemies' fort and the wild elephants destroy the enemies and bring back the man. Now, with her mission over, she moves to another place where a boy asks a funny question, to which she could not give a convincing reply. Then the boy reveals himself as the Lord Murugan whom Avvaiyar worshipped. Murugan says that Avvaiyar can now leave the world to join the place of the divine.
- K. B. Sundarambal as Avvaiyar
- M. K. Radha as Paari Vallal
- M. S. Sundari Bai as Ammalu
- Kusalakumari as Avvaiyar's Younger Age
- 'Baby' Saraswathi as Avvaiyar's Child Age
- 'Kumari' Vanaja as Elankulazhi
- Gemini Ganesan as Deiveegan
- D. Balasubramaniam as Paanar
- S. Narayana Rao as Aalwar
- Kothamangalam Subbu as Veerayyan
- K. Balaji as Murugan
- T. V. Kumudhini as Sivakami
- K. Ramasamy as Pulavar
- G. Pattu Ayyar as Thiruvalluvar
- Pudhukottai Seenu as Sakkaram
- C. V. V. Banthulu as Pulavar
- Velayudham as Kuravan
- Nagarathinam as Kurathi
- Udhayathara as Kurathi
- Meera as Angavai
- Thulasi as Sangavai
- Ashokan as Chozhan
- Producer: S. S. Vasan
- Production Company: Gemini Studios
- Director: Kothamangalam Subbu
- Music: M. D. Parthasarathy, Anandaraman & Mayavaram Venu
- Lyrics: Avvaiyar, Papanasam Sivan & Kothamangalam Subbu
- Story: Kothamangalam Subbu, Ki. Ra & Gemini Studios Story Department
- Screenplay: Kothamangalam Subbu, Ki. Ra & Gemini Studios Story Department
- Dialogues: Kothamangalam Subbu, Ki. Ra & Gemini Studios Story Department
- Art Direction: A. K. Sekar, K. R. Sharma & M. S. Janakiram
- Editing: N. K. Gopal
- Choreography: K. N. Dhandayuthapani, Natraj & Jayashankar
- Cinematography: Thambu
Even during the early 1940s, Vasan had given instructions to his story department to conduct research on the life and times of the famed poet Avvai and work on a draft script. More than two years were invested in the research. Vasan entrusted this job to Tamil scholar Kothamangalam Subbu. The result was a mass of information — some incredible, some highly controversial and some even objectionable! Some scholars even told Subbu that “there was no such person called Avvaiyar! All kinds of people wrote philosophical poems and songs and passed them off as written by Avvai!” However, Vasan and Subbu never gave up and after much effort, a workable script was ready.
Vasan decided that the only actor who could portray the role of Avvaiyar with conviction would be the celebrated stage and film actor, Carnatic musician K. B. Sundarambal. It is interesting to note that Sundarambal more or less matched the image of what was in the public eye about the poet! This masterstroke of casting by Vasan helped him and the movie in great measure.
Vasan screened the rough cut of Avvaiyar. His friends, staff members and their families were invited and asked to give their opinion in writing. Vasan would study all the material carefully. Well-known journalist of Ananda Vikatan who wrote under the pen name, ‘Kadhir’ explained that the film was slow, crawling on leaden feet with practically nothing much happening at all! It had Sundarambal walking slowly most of the time. It looked more like a documentary and not at all like a feature film. Vasan stared at him for a while and then smiled. He told his team that Kadhir was absolutely correct! He too had the same opinion and wanted to have a second opinion. He told Subbu and others that the film lacked entertainment. Immediately, he ordered the screenplay to be rewritten incorporating sequences of entertainment to elevate the box-office potential and audience appeal of the movie. That’s when the sequence of the grand reception by the ancient Tamil king Paari to Avvaiyar was written to be woven into the script.
Subbu wrote it, making it an entertainment extravaganza on its own and the sequence was shot at considerable expense. An entire street set was built at a cost of Rs. 1.5 lakh, which was big money in the 1950s. Over 10,000 junior artistes took part in the spectacular sequence into which traditional folk dances were incorporated, creating a majestic visual impact on moviegoers. The sequence proved to be one of the highlights of the film.
|1||Aalai Palaavaagalaamo||K. B. Sundarambal|
|2||Aram Seiya Virumbu|
|3||Ayyanae Anbarkku Meyyanae|
|6||Jaadhi Irandozhiya Vaerillai|
|8||Kattradhu Kai Mannalavu|
|10||Munnai Naal Paarikku|
|15||Vaelanae Senthamizh Viththagaa|
Box office and critical reception
- The film was big successful run in its Tamil and also Telugu version.
- The film received praises and admiration from many critics and also politicians. However, Rajaji said, "T. K. Shanmugam's play is a hundred times superior to this picture... A lot of stock scenes of thunder, lightning and storm, of water flowing and elephants trooping and cardboard fortresses falling. Avvai is too angry and cursing... The picture is poor but when so much has been spent on it and the stake is so great how can one frankly condemn it..."
- Baskaran, S. Theodore (1996). The eye of the serpent: an introduction to Tamil cinema. East West Books.
- Dhananjayan, G. (2011). The Best of Tamil Cinema, 1931 to 2010: 1931–1976. Galatta Media. ISBN 978-81-921043-0-0.
- Dhananjayan, G. (2014). Pride of Tamil Cinema: 1931 to 2013. Blue Ocean Publishers. ISBN 978-93-84301-05-7.
- Guy, Randor (15 May 2009). "A void on the film firmament". The Hindu. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
- "Avvaiyar Songs". spicyonion. Retrieved 2014-12-09.
- "dated October 16 and 18 (No issue on October 17), 1953: Praise for Gemini's `Avvaiyar'". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2003-10-17. Archived from the original on 23 August 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-18.
- "The Hindu : Rajaji, author and critic". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2001-12-31. Archived from the original on 23 August 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-18.