|Directed by||B. R. Panthulu|
|Produced by||B. R. Panthulu|
|Written by||S. D. Sundaram|
|Screenplay by||'Chithra' Krishnaswamy|
|Story by||Ma. Po. Si.|
S. V. Ranga Rao
S. A. Ashokan
S. V. Subbaiah
|Music by||G. Ramanathan|
|Cinematography||W. R. Subba Rao
|Edited by||R. Devarajan|
|Distributed by||Sivaji Productions|
|7 November 1961|
Kappalottiya Thamizhan (English: The Tamilian who launched a Ship) is a 1961 Indian Tamil patriotic film directed by B. R. Panthulu. The film features Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan in the lead roles, while S. V. Subbaiah, T. K. Shanmugham, S. V. Ranga Rao, Savitri and S. A. Ashokan appear in supporting roles. The film is based on the biography of V.O.Chidambaram Pillai written by Ma. Po. Si.(M.P.Sivagnanam). V. O. Chidambaram Pillai, founded the Swadeshi Stream Navigation Company to break the monopoly of the British over maritime trade out of India. Upon release, the film received critical acclaim and was adjudged the Best Tamil Film at the 9th National Film Awards, however it failed at the box office.
V. O. Chidambaram Pillai has devoted himself to the cause of India's freedom from the British. Chidambaram, appearing for a poor peasant Madasami, wins a case filed by an agent of a British proprietor. Chidambaram's father who appeared for the agent, sends his son to Tuticorin lest the British proprietor should give him any trouble. Madasami who accompanies Chidambaram, looks after the latter's salt -pan. At Tuticorin, Chidambaram meets Subramaniya Siva, a freedom fighter and works for the Swadeshi movement. Chidambaram receives a complaint from some of the local merchants that the British Shipping Company had refused to load their goods. Against great odds, Chidambaram starts the National Shipping Company with Indian Capital to free Indian trade from dependence on foreign liners. The company prospers despite attempts by the British Company to sabotage the ship of the Indian firm. Chidambaram incurs the displeasure of the Government by organising a strike for getting the grievances of the local coral mill workers redressed and by organising public celebrations to mark the release of Bipin Chandra Pal in contravention of a prohibitory order.
Chidambaram, along with Subramaniya Sivam, is invited to Tirunelveli by the District Collector, Mr. Winch. The collector directs them not to engage in political activity and also orders them out of the District. They defy the orders and are arrested. In the trial which ensues, Chidambaram is sentenced to 20 years life imprisonment and Sivam to 10 years. Chidambaram's sentence is reduced to six years on appeal. The imprisonment of these two leaders sparks off mass unrest which is put down ruthlessly. Some time later, the new District Collector Ash is shot dead by a young patriotic Vanchinathan, who commits suicide before the police could reach him.
The news of the unrelented struggle outside gives much consolation to Chidambaram and Sivam who are treated barbarously in the prison. Chidambaram emerges from the prison a broken man only to witness a series of disappoinments — Sivam is a victim of leprosy contracted during his term in prison, Chidambaram's brother has turned insane, the National Shipping Company is bought by its British rival and cherished leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bharathiar pass away one after another. Chidambaram devotes the last years of his life to the study of literature and dies still dreaming of the day when India would be free.
- Sivaji Ganesan as V. O. Chidambaram Pillai
- Gemini Ganesan as Madaswami
- Savitri as Kannamma (Madaswami's lover)
- Rukmini as Chidambaram Pillai's wife Meenatchiammal
- S. V. Ranga Rao as Collector Vinch
- S. A. Ashokan as Sub-Collector Ash
- K. Sakrapani as Rayar
- O. A. K. Devar as Vaduguraman
- 'Stunt' Somu as Sudalai
- T. K. Shanmugham as Subramaniya Siva
- S. V. Subbaiah as Subramania Bharathiyar
- K. Balaji as Vanchinathan
- 'Gemini' Chandra as Vanchinathan's wife Ponnammal
- T. P. Muthulakshmi as Sudanthiradevi
- Chittor V. Nagaiah as Ulaganatha Pillai
- T. S. Durairaj as Sangal
- A. Karunanidhi as Unnarsamy
- M. N. Kannappa as Meenatchi Sundaram
- Producer: B. R. Panthulu
- Production Company: Padmini Pictures
- Director: B. R. Panthulu
- Music: G. Ramanathan
- Lyrics: Subramania Bharathiyar
- Story: Ma. Po. Si.
- Screenplay: 'Chithra' Krishnaswamy
- Dialogues: S. D. Sundaram
- Art Direction: A. K. Sekar
- Editing: R. Devarajan
- Choreography: Jayaraman
- Cinematography: W. R. Subba Rao & Karnan
- Stunt: None
- Audiography: P. V. Koteswara Rao
- Dance: None
The film Kappalottiya Thamizhan is based on the life of freedom fighter Va Vu Chidambaram Pillai, who founded the Swadeshi Stream Navigation Company to break the monopoly of the British over maritime trade out of India. During a time when the DMK was gaining political ground in Tamil Nadu, a time when there was competition between parties, and films were pitched against each other, the opposition unleashed a malicious propaganda that since Chidambaram belonged to the Indian National Congress, Kappalottiya Thamizhan was a film for the Congress. The film was not targeted for the masses, who at that time did not want to be "stirred" by the Nationalist Spirit.
Sivaji Ganesan was hesitant to do the role of VOC as he doubted whether he could essay the role flawlessly, but later accepted the role. He once said that the highest award he got for this film was when VOC's son Subramaniam said he saw his father alive in the screen. Gemini Ganesan was cast in the role of Madasamy, a character who was later labelled "authentic", and S. V. Subbiah was cast as the Tamil language poet Subramania Bharathi. While veteran villain actor S. A. Ashokan made his debut in this film as Collector Ash, actor Nagaiah who was then in "dire straits", was signed up for a significant role, as director B. R. Panthulu wanted to give him a "break in films".
There is no evidence of any research undertaken for making the film. The film had no props, apart from the character's costumes and the female character's ear-lobes, which were done to create a "period effect". The scenes which involved the burning of non-Indian textiles were labelled as "flat" and "unconvincing", by film historian Theodore Baskaran.
|1||Chinnakkuzhandaigal||P. Susheela||Subramania Bharathiyar||02:39|
|2||Endru Thaniyum Indha||Tiruchy Logananthan||02:18|
|3||Kaatru Veliyidai Kannamma||P. B. Sreenivas, P. Susheela||03:43|
|4||Nenjil Uramumindri||Sirkazhi Govindarajan||02:11|
|5||Odi Vilaiyadu Paappa||Sirkazhi Govindarajan, Jamuna Rani, Rohini||03:41|
|6||Paarukkullae Nalla Naadu||Sirkazhi Govindarajan||02:39|
|7||Thanneer Vittom||Tiruchy Logananthan||03:07|
|8||Vandhae Maatharam Enbom||Sirkazhi Govindarajan||02:44|
|9||Vellippani Malai||Sirkazhi Govindarajan, Tiruchy Logananthan, L. R. Eswari, Rohini||03:42|
Kappalottiya Thamizhan received generally positive reviews. Malathi Rangarajan of The Hindu said, "Films on patriotism are many. But Panthulu's Kappalottiya Tamizhan stands apart for the natural portrayal of Sivaji Ganesan as VOC, and S.V. Subbiah who came up with a brilliant performance as Bharatiar. The film remains a perfect showcase of the Independence Movement in the South!" Suganthy Krishnamachari of The Hindu said, "S. V. Subbiah's performance as Bharatiyar in the film, Kappalottiya Tamizhan was reminiscent of his role as Kavi Anandar." S. Viswanathan of The Frontline praised Ganesan's performance, saying "Critics list several films as his best in terms of performance. However, according to the actor, his career best was Kappalottiya Thamizhan, which tells the life of a freedom fighter, V.O. Chidambaram." Tamil film historian S. Theodore Baskaran said, "Though Sivaji Ganesan's portrayal of Chidambaram Pillai is affected in the earlier part of the film, later in the prison sequences and during the trauma of disillusionment, his acting is natural. The format of the film remains traditional with duets, songs and fight sequences."
Kappalottiya Thamizhan was the first Tamil film to get tax exemption from the government of India, because of its content. In spite of this, it emerged a commercial failure. It faced a loss of 7,00,000. About the film's failure, Sivaji Ganesan felt that since the Congress did not understand artistic sensitivities, Kappalottiya Tamizhan, which was a film made for the Congress, was a box office failure. He also stated that he was not upset for losing money making the film to kindle the national spirit, but rather happy that he could harness the medium to remind people of the Indian freedom fighters of the bygone era.
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