|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|
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
- S. A. Ashokan as Chozhan
|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|
Release and reception
The film received positive reviews. Professor J. E. de La Harpe of the University of California wrote to Vasan, "Although I don't know one word of Tamil, I enjoyed the film immensely, being able to guess more or less the story from the scenes as it is acted out. This letter is not only to congratulate you on such a remarkable picture (the nature shots are particularly good), but to urge you to export it. Nothing could make India — at least Southern India — better understood abroad and liked than `Avvaiyar' with its rural scenes, temple processions, religious incidents, and scenes such as the one of elephants storming a city. These will send foreign audiences wild, in addition to the very interesting musical aspect; your actress has a lovely voice. Although a Frenchman, I have been living in America for 27 years. As I know the Americans, they would simply love such a picture, so different from the stuff usually fed to the public here by Hollywood. I am sure you could make a smashing success with "Avvaiyar." Only be sure to leave it just as it is, do not add a love story (such as Hollywood thinks is indispensable), and do not change the typical Indian scenes. English sub-titles will be quite sufficient to make the whole story understandable. I hope I shall be able to see `Avvaiyar' in the U.S.A. with English titles before too long." K. Venkataswami Naidu, the Minister for Religious Endowments and Registration said, "I have seen both the Telugu and Tamil versions of `Avvaiyar.' When some of us were feeling that standards are going down in film production, this movie has come as a great relief. It is a perfect picture, carrying great moral and historical value. I need not speak of technical perfection for a Gemini production."
In contrast, C. Rajagopalachari 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..."
According to S. Theodore Baskaran, Avvaiyar was perhaps the height of the trend for films celebrating Tamil culture and language: "A story woven around episodes from the life of the legendary poetess Avvaiyar whose works are considered to be one of the glories of Tamil literature. Every Tamil child is initiated into the language and culture through her poems. The film is dedicated to Mother Tamil and opens with a song praising Tamil Nadu. Avvaiyar herself symbolizes Mother Tamil and her deity, Murugan, is hailed as god of the Tamils".
- Baskaran, S. Theodore (1996). The eye of the serpent: an introduction to Tamil cinema. East West Books.
- Craddock, Elaine (2010). Siva's Demon Devotee: Karaikkal Ammaiyar. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-1-4384-3087-4.
- Guy, Randor (1997). Starlight, Starbright: The Early Tamil Cinema. Amra Publishers.
- Pillai, Swarnavel Eswaran (2015). Madras Studios: Narrative, Genre, and Ideology in Tamil Cinema. SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-93-5150-212-8.
- Pillai 2015, p. 151.
- Guy, Randor (15 May 2009). "A void on the film firmament". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
- "Avvaiyar Playlist". Saregama. 6 August 2014. Archived from the original on 16 September 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- "dated October 16 and 18 (No issue on October 17), 1953: Praise for Gemini's `Avvaiyar'". The Hindu. 17 October 2003. Archived from the original on 30 December 2003. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
- "Rajaji, author and critic". The Hindu. 31 December 2001. Archived from the original on 9 November 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
- Craddock 2010, p. 161.