|Directed by||A. Bhimsingh|
|Produced by||A. V. Meiyappan|
|Written by||Javar Seetharaman|
|Story by||Javar Seetharaman|
|Music by||R. Sudharsanam|
|Edited by||S. Suraiya|
|Distributed by||AVM Productions|
|12 August 1959
or 12 August 1960
Kalathur Kannamma (English: Kannamma of Kalathur) is an Indian Tamil romantic drama film produced by A. V. Meiyappan and directed by A. Bhimsingh. The film stars Gemini Ganesan and Savitri in the lead, while Kamal Hassan made his debut in this film as a child artist. T. S. Balaiah, Devika and S. V. Subbaiah play supporting roles. The film's critically acclaimed soundtrack was composed by R. Sudharsanam. The film tells the story of a young couple — a wealthy zamindar's son and a farmer's daughter — who are separated by unfortunate circumstances, while their innocent son is forced to grow up in an orphanage.
Kalathur Kannamma was critically acclaimed and commercially successful, and won several awards such as the Certificate of Merit by the Government of India, and the President's Gold Medal award. The film was remade in Telugu as Mooga Nomu. It was also remade in Hindi as Main Chup Rahungi with Bhimsingh returning as director, in Sinhala as Mangalika, and in Malayalam as Navavadhu.
Rajalingam (Gemini Ganesan) is the only son of Ramalingam (T. S. Balaiah), the zamindar of Kalathur. Kannamma (Savithri) is the daughter of Murugan (S. V. Subbaiah), a farmer of the same place. On the zamindar's advice, Murugan sends his daughter to Madras for higher education. While returning from Madras, Kannamma meets Raja in the train. Noticing her respect and awe for the zamindar, Raja calls himself an electrician visiting the zamin palace. They fall in love. A few days later, Kannamma learns the truth and to reassure her, Raja marries her secretly in a temple.
Two days later, Raja has to go abroad for higher studies. During his absence, Ramalingam learns of the marriage and orders Kannamma to forget his son. Moved by the zamindar's feelings, Kannamma promises never to mention their marriage to anyone. Kannamma is now in the family way. Ramalingam arranges for the stay of Murugan and Kannamma in a nearby town, Sevalpatti. Murugan, who is ashamed of Kannamma's love affair, leaves Kannamma's newborn son in an orphanage and lies that the child was stillborn. They both decide to leave the place and settle in Bangalore.
When Raja returns, he learns that Kannamma had left Kalathur. His enquiries in Sevalpatti lead him to believe that Kannamma had led an immoral life. Grief-stricken, he travels from place to place to forget Kannamma and takes to drinking as a last resort. In Bangalore, he encounters Kannamma in a dancer's house where she had come to teach the dancer’s daughter. Her presence in the house and reticence to Raja’s questions strengthens his belief that Kannamma is a woman of ill repute and in disgust, he returns home.
Kannamma’s son Selvam grows up into an intelligent boy (Kamal Haasan) and is living in the orphanage in Sevalpatti. Murugan visits the orphanage and on meeting Selvam, decides to shift to Sevalpatti to be near him. Kannamma becomes a teacher in Selvam’s school and feels attracted to him. She invites him to stay with her but he refuses as he has to look after Mani, a lame orphan living with him. Raja is invited to Sevalpatti by Singaram, a rich merchant who wants to marry his daughter Maduram (Devika) to him, to preside over a school function. Raja takes a fascination for Selvam who acts in the school drama. He encounters Kannamma again and orders the Headmistress to dismiss her.
Mani is seriously ill and Selvam turns to Raja for help, but Mani eventually dies. Raja takes Selvam with him to the zamin. On Selvam's insistence, he stops drinking and to give him a mother, also decides to marry Maduram. A seriously ill Murugan confesses to Kannamma that her child is not dead and reveals the identity of Selvam. Kannamma tries to contact Selvam but does not find him in the orphanage. The news shocks Murugan and to soothe his nerves, they move down to their village Kalathur. In the local temple, Kannamma meets Selvam and tells him that she is his mother. On learning from him that Raja is bringing him up and is marrying shortly to find him a mother, she asks him not to mention anything about her to Raja. While preparations were going on for the marriage of Raja with Maduram, she comes to know from Selvam that he is the son of Raja. Singaram insists on a written undertaking that the properties of Raja would go to the children of Maduram only. The news of this conflict spreads in the village.
On learning this, Murugan rushes to the palace to own the boy, but collapses near the palace gate. Kannamma who has followed, takes Selvam and tries to move away when she is intercepted by Raja who demands the boy back. Raja refuses to believe that Selvam is Kannamma’s son and abuses Kannamma for her shameless life. Ramalingam observes that even in such a humiliating situation, Kannamma is silent and does not breathe a word about her promise to him. He is moved and acknowledges her as his daughter-in-law. Selvam is united with his parents, and Raja’s marriage with Maduram is cancelled.
- Gemini Ganesan as Rajalingam
- Savithri as Kannamma
- Kamal Haasan as Selvam
- T. S. Balaiah as Ramalingam
- S. V. Subbaiah as Murugan
- Devika as Maduram
- Javar Seetharaman
- V. R. Rajagopal
Originally, T. Prakash Rao was the director of the film, before being replaced by A. Bhimsingh. He had directed "nearly half the film", but because producer A. V. Meiyappan and he "didn't see eye to eye", the entire film was re-shot by Bhimsingh. The film was written by Javar Seetharaman, and is said to have been adapted from the Moral Rearmament Army's play The Forgotten Factor. It is also said to have been inspired by the 1960 film Nobody's Child. While Gemini Ganesan and Savitri were cast in the lead roles, Kamal Haasan – who was then a child, was cast in the film, making his debut in cinema. The original choice for Haasan's role was Daisy Irani, who had been already been paid 10,000 in advance. S. P. Muthuraman, who later became a leading director in Tamil cinema, made his debut as an assistant director in this film.
There have been varying accounts regarding Haasan's entry into this film: In 1997, V S Srinivasan of Rediff said that young Haasan accompanied a doctor who went to treat an ill woman at the home of Meiyappan. On hearing loud shouting from a first-floor tenant of the bungalow, the doctor became uneasy. Haasan strode up the stairway to ask the noisemaker not to shout over the phone as someone was ill, leaving the person astonished. An impressed Meiyappan later provided him an entry into films. However, the more accepted account states that when Haasan accompanied a family doctor of Meiyappan to his house, producer AVM Saravanan noticed Haasan as a hyperactive child. He took him over and introduced to Meiyappan who was looking for a young boy to act in Kalathur Kannamma.
|1.||"Kangalin Vaarthaigal"||Kannadasan||A. M. Rajah, P. Susheela||3:33|
|2.||"Sirithaalum"||Kannadasan||C. S. Jayaraman||3:30|
|3.||"Aadatha Manamum"||Ku. Ma. Subramaniam||A. M. Rajah, P. Susheela||3:19|
|4.||"Arugil Vanthaal"||Kannadasan||A. M. Rajah||3:23|
|5.||"Ammavum Neeye"||Vaali||M. S. Rajeshwari||2:47|
|6.||"Buthimaan Balavaan (Children's Drama)"||Kothamangalam Subbu||S. C. Krishnan, T. M. Soundararajan, M. S. Rajeshwari||6:58|
The soundtrack received positive response, with major praises for the number Ammavum Neeye. A critic from FridayMoviez said, "Its music [the film's] is beautiful. A melodious song in chorus by the inmates of an orphanage 'Ammaavum neeye, appaavum neeye...' (sung by M. S.Rajeswari lending voice for Kamalahasan [sic], music composed by R.Sudarsanam) is still remembered and treasured by many all over the world." Film historian B. Vijayakumar said "One stand out sequence in Kalathoor Kannamma is the song pictured on Kamal. The song, ‘Ammavum neeye’... by M. S. Rajeswari and Kamal's acting made it an unforgettable experience". A report from The Hindu called the song's verses as "immortal". The Times of India said, "Ammavum Neeye Appavum Neeye... — this is a line that'll forever remain etched in the memory of Tamil cinema fans."
Kalathur Kannamma was released on 12 August, although the year of release is disputed. While most sources have claimed that the film released in 1960, others have claimed the film's release year to be 1959.
Reviews were mostly positive. Ananda Vikatan (11.9.1960) praised Kamal Haasan's performance and said, "One of the best films in Tamil seen so far... Master Kamal Haasan's acting has shaken up everyone...". The Madras-based film magazine Movieland said, "A new star rises on the movie horizon". The article by film journalist, K. Vasudevan, praised the performance of Haasan. Randor Guy of The Hindu wrote that the film was remembered for "The little boy’s remarkable performance and the song filmed on him".
FridayMoviez said, "Besides Gemini Ganesh, [sic] K. Savithri (Mrs. Gemini Ganesh in private life), T. K. Bhagavathi, S. V. Subbiah in lead roles, Meiyappan introduced a brilliant new talent as child artiste in this movie. The boy has created film history now and has emerged as a leading personality of Indian Cinema- Kamal Haasan". The critic further wrote, "The movie is not only brilliant in terms of the story and acting, but even its music is beautiful", while calling it "A Definite must-watch for quality-cinema lovers." Kamal Haasan's elder brother Charu Haasan said, "I have watched Kamal’s first movie a 100 times, as I took him to all the theatres wherever ‘Kalathur Kannamma’ was being screened." S. Saraswathi of Rediff included Kalathur Kannamma in her list of "The 10 Best Films of Kamal Haasan", praising Haasan's performance over Gemini Ganesan and Savitri's performances.
Kalathur Kannamma was the winner of the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil – Certificate of Merit for the Third Best Feature Film in 1961, as well as the Certificate of Merit by the Government of India. Kamal Haasan's performance earned him the President's Gold Medal in 1961.
Kalathur Kannamma was dubbed in Telugu as Mavoori Ammayi, which was released on 20 October 1960. The film was also remade in the same language as Mooga Nomu. Bhimsingh later remade the film in Hindi as Main Chup Rahungi, which starred Sunil Dutt and Meena Kumari in the lead roles. The film was also remade in Sinhala as Mangalika, while the Hindi version was remade as Udarata Menike. The Malayalam remake was titled Navavadhu.
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