|Directed by||S. S. Vasan|
|Produced by||S. S. Vasan|
|Written by||Story: K. J. Mahadevan
Story & Dialogue:Kothamangalam Subbu
|Based on||The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexandre Dumas
|Music by||C. Ramchandra|
|Edited by||N. R. Krishna Sami|
|Distributed by||Gemini Pictures|
|12 April 1958|
|Box office||3.6 million|
Vanjikkottai Valiban (English: The Youth from Vanji Fort) is a 1958 Black-and-white Tamil Ruritanian romance epic film written by Gemini Studios story department consist of K. J. Mahadevan, C. Srinivasan and Kothamangalam Subbu while the film was directed and produced by S. S. Vasan. It stars Gemini Ganesan and Vyjayanthimala in lead with Padmini, P.S. Veerappa, T. K. Shanmugam, Pasupuleti Kannamba, Vijayakumari, K. A. Thangavelu and M. S. Sundari Bai as the ensemble cast of the film. The camera was handled by P. Ellappa with the audiography was handled by C. E. Biggs while the editing was done by N. R. Krishna Sami.
Chokkalingam Navilur (T. K. Shanmugam) is a diwan at Vanjikottai Kingdom. He with his wife, Sivakami (Pasupuleti Kannamba) is loyal to their King, where Chokkalingam without any hesitation accuses that Senathipathi (P.S. Veerappa), the brother of King's second wife, Maharani Ranthamani Devi (Meenakshi) over the trial to kill the prince (Daisy Irani). Over his guilt, the king ordered Senathipathi to be banished but the help by one of his armies make him stay in the kingdom without anyone's knowledge. He later set up a fire in the city and stab the king with his sword. The king before dying had uttered to Chokkalingam to save his daughter Padma (Padmini) and the infant prince and died afterward. In order to fulfil the king's desire. He sailed on a boat with the king's children leaving his family. Soon his wife also did the same with her children but only to be caught by the Senathipathi's army. Leaving her children on the moving boat, she spent her whole life at an island prison.
After, 10 years, the grown up Sunder (Gemini Ganesan) plan to arrange his sister's wedding, but it was interrupted by Senathipathi by kidnapping Gowri (Vijayakumari) in Sunder's absence. While returning home for the preparation for the engagement, Sunder spots Gowri with Senathipathi in his vehicle, in order to escape from Senathipathi, Gowri jumps out of the vehicle and dies soon. Sunder who seeks justice from Senathipathi, he planned to kill him but only to be precluded by his army. After he is found guilty over his action, Sunder later banished to a jail island where he should be serving a sentence of life punishment. There, he gets the chance to meet his mother who is also spending her whole life for her deed. She explains to him about persecution that did by Senathipathi to his family and the Vanjikottai kingdom. They both soon planned to escape from the prison, her mother soon died while Sunder escaped by fell into the sea. He soon saved by ship carrying some slave to Ratna Island.
There Sunder meets with Princess Mandakini (Vyjayanthimala) who at first averse to the attitude of Sunder, who ignores her beauty and does not respond to her assertive and arrogant behaviour of Mandakini. Later she falls for him and gives him a special treatment, though Sunder also likes her but he requested Mandakini to release him in order to find his father and solve the conspiracy in his kingdom. She agrees with all the requests on the condition that he would return within one month. Provided with jewelry, clothes and bot, she sent Sunder to his kingdom. Meanwhile, Chokkalingam who is living in one of the hinterland village with Padma and planning a reformation along with Murugan who serve as his spy at Vanjikottai. After the awareness of the reforms were disseminated to the masses themselves in Vanjikottai, Chokkalingam return to Vanjikkottai to take down Senathipathi's government. He was later joint by Sunder, Padma, Murugan, Rangamma, Velan and his wife. Sunder has acted as a jeweler in and had deceived Maharani Ranthamani Devi and Senathipathi by gain their trust on him. He later invites them to his palace to watch a dance by Padma. He also planned to release Chokkalingam, Murugan and his wife Rangamma who were arrested by Senathipathi during their reformation.
After one month, Mandakini had came to Vanjikottai to search for Sunder. She set up her camp at the border of Vanjikottai and sent her spy to locate Sunder's place. While spotting Sunder and Padma together, her spy mistaken that Sunder is in love with Padma. Mandakini who heard the news approached Sunder. Unable to explain his situation, Sunder ask Mandakini to watch the show along with Maharani Ranthamani Devi and Senathipathi, eavesdrop their conversation Padma realize Sunder's love towards Mandakini and changed her mind by forgetting her love. In the court, while watching the dance performed by Padma, Mandakini was averse by the meaning of Padma's song which indirectly tells her feeling towards Sunder. Soon, Mandakini changed her costume and give a dance battle for Padma. Watching Padma who almost faint during the rotation, Sunder cut the chandelier's rope making the chandelier to breakdown, thus ending the dance competition. Then he ordered Velan to dragged Mandakini out and tie her into a room. After Senathipathi had become intoxicated after drinking some solution, Sunder used this situation and has been masquerading as Senathipathi and rescued Murugan and Rangamma from the prison. He also get to know that Chokkalingam was brought to the island prison to undergo the death penalty.
Meanwhile, Mandakini who had escaped from Velan joined Senathipathi and secrete the secret about the place where Chokkalingam, Sunder, Padma and others were hiding. For her deed, she asked him to send Sunder to her in order to live with him. Senathipathi arrest all of them including Sunder. Mandakini who has realized Senathipathi's trick over her, she gathered her kingdom's army to save Sunder and others. Murugan and the people of Vanjikottai headed to Senathipathi's palace to bring down his government. Knowing this, Senathipathi leave the palace for the immediate execution of Sunder's and others death penalty. Murugan get to know the place where the execution occur, he brings his people to kill Senathipathi. Mandakini who also arrive there with her army jointt the battle to bring down Senathipathi. During the battle, Senathipathi throws his sword over Sunder but hits Mandakini when she tries to protect him. The battle was ended with the murder of Senathipathi and Mandakini died while uniting Padma with Sunder.
- Gemini Ganesan as Sunderalingam / Sunder / Sunderam. He is the son of Chokkalingam and Sivagami who later meet with his parent after ten years. He seeks revenge when her sister Gowri died from the result of Senathipathi's action. Later he was also caught between the love of two princess; Mandakini and Padma where he is in love with Mandakini, the princess that helped him by providing food, money and boat for him.
- Vyjayanthimala as Princess Mandakini. She is the beautiful princess of Ratna Island Kingdom. She always want of achieve her ambition in any deed which lead to her ultimate death and forms the climax.
- Padmini as Princess Padma. She is the real princess of Vanjikottai kingdom who later joint the reformation process. Meanwhile, she also falls for Sunder, who helped her during the reformation process but later changed her mind after knowing that he is in love with Princess Mandakini.
- P.S. Veerappa as Senathipathi. He is the cruel patrician who killed the his own brother-in-law, in order take control of the Vanjikottai's empire along with his ambitious widowed young sister, who later crowned as the single queen of Vanjikottai.
- Meenakshi as Maharani Ranthamani Devi. She is an ambitious queen who later take over the crown
- T. K. Shanmugam as Chokkalingam Navalur. He is the diwan of Vanjikottai Kingdom, Senderalingam and Gowri is his children.
- Pasupuleti Kannamba as Sivakami. She is the wife of Navalur and mother of Sunderalingam and Gowri. She eventually died at the prison while making her way out with her son.
- S. V. Subbaiah Bagavathar as Murugan. He remained loyal to Vanjikottai's former diwan, Chokkalingam, where he help Chakkalingam for the independent of Vanjikottai from the rule of Sethupathi.
- M. S. Sundari Bai as Rangamma. Rangamma also joint the reformation to take down King Sethupathi's government in Vanjikottai along with her husband, Murugan, the present minister of Vanjikottai.
- Vijayakumari as Gowri. She is the sister of Sunderam who killed her self when kidnapped by Sethupathi.
- K. A. Thangavelu as Velan. He is the loyal informer of Chakkalingam where he protect them during their reformation process along with his wife.
- T. P. Muthulakshmi as Wife of Velan. She is very brave and comical as well.
- Daisy Irani as Prince. He is the brother of Padma and the heir of the royal family of Vanjikottai.
According to Ramanathan, father of Abirami Ramanathan said his father V. S. Sivalingam had bought the distribution rights for Vanjikottai Valiban at a cost of 200,000 in 1956. The film suffered from too much of "process screen" or Back projection where many shots from Gemini Studios's magnum opus Chandralekha were used. Moreover, audience notices the make out shots of Ranjan and his gang riding on horses from the film. Besides that, a passing by of motor car was also seen in a shot which was an anachronism in Gemini Studios production.
The film's soundtrack was composed by C. Ramchandra while the lyrics was provide by Kothamangalam Subbu. The playback singers consist of P. Leela, Jikki, C. S. Jayaraman, P. Susheela and Sirkazhi Govindarajan.
|1||"Amma Amma"||C. S. Jayaraman||2:49||Kothamangalam Subbu||Featuring Gemini Ganesan and Pasupuleti Kannamba.|
|2||"Ethani Kelvi"||P. Susheela||3:33||Kothamangalam Subbu||Featuring actress Padmini as an Adivasi.|
|3||"Kannum Kannum Kalanthu"||P. Leela, Jikki||6:56||Kothamangalam Subbu||Featuring Vyjayanthimala and Padmini in a dance competition.|
|4||"Raja Magal"||P. Leela||6:08||Kothamangalam Subbu||Featuring Vyjayanthimala and Gemini Ganesan accompanied by the background dancers.|
|5||"Vennilave"||P. Leela||6:09||Kothamangalam Subbu||Featuring Gemini Ganesan and Padmini.|
|6||"Vetrivel"||Sirkazhi Govindarajan||5:27||Kothamangalam Subbu||Featuring the T. K. Shanmugam, Padmini and Honey Irani.|
The film initially gained success at box office despite some technical errors, audience was pleasured by the dances featuring the lead actresses; Vyjayanthimala and Padmini and the production value of the film. At the end of its theatrical run the film was labelled as blockbuster at the box office. The film celebrated its 100th day theatrical run at Wellington theatre, LIC Building on 9 June 1959 with full-packed audience. The film was one of the successful Tamil films of 1958 along with films such as Nadodi Mannan and Uthama Puthiran. This Film was the second biggest hit of the year 1958 after Nadodi mannan.
Inspirations and remakes
The film was inspired by the 1844 novel The Count of Monte Cristo. The film was shot simultaneously in Hindi as Raj Tilak with Gemini Ganesan, Vyjayanthimala and Padmini who reprises their role from original.
The film was well known for its technical brilliant where the title sequence showing a ship caught in a storm was an excellent example of onscreen presentation which was rarely seen in South Indian film of that time. However, it was the dance sequence of Vyjayanthimala and Padmini in the song "Kannum Kannum Kalanthu" which was choreographed by Hiralal, brother of B. Sohanlal, is still remembered even today by the critics and audience alike where the popularity of the song surpasses the popularity garnered by the film. The song was regarded as the best dance sequence in Indian cinema. The song was also used by many Indian classical dancer for stage performance. Subsequently, the catch line used by actor P.S. Veerappa, "Shabhash, sariyana potti!" which means "Bravo, an excellent competition!" was also becomes famous catch line and still used by the people of Tamil Nadu.
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