Chintamani (1937 film)

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Chintamani 1937 film.jpg
Chintamani (Aswathamma), Lord Krishna (Serugulathur Sama) and Bilwamangal(M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar)
Directed by Y. V. Rao
Produced by Royal Talkies
Written by Dialogue: Somayajulu, Serugalathur Sama
Screenplay by Y. V. Rao
Story by Y. V. Rao
Starring Aswathamma
M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar
Serugulathur Sama
Y. V. Rao
L. Narayana Rao
Music by Papanasam Sivan
Cinematography Y. B. Washgar
Edited by Bholenath Adya
Distributed by Royal Talkies
Release dates
12 March 1937[1]
Running time
215 min
Language Tamil

Chintamani (Tamil: சிந்தாமணி) is a 1937 Tamil-language film directed by Y. V. Rao starring M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, Serugulathur Sama and Aswathamma.[2] It was the first Tamil film to run for a year in a single theatre.[3][4][5]


Chintamani was a popular play which had been performed in many languages. First, a silent film was made based on the play, then talkies based on it were made in Bengali, Hindi and Telugu. In 1937, a Tamil version of the film was directed by film-maker Y. V. Rao under the banner of Royal Talkies, owned by yarn merchants of Madurai.[3]

Initially, the director Y. V. Rao, wanted to play Bilwamangal's role himself.[6] However, he changed his mind and acted as Bilwamangal's companion Manoharan. Serugulathur Sama was another contender for the main role. But, Rao rejected him in favor of M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar who was signed to play the part. In the initial stages, more publicity was given to the Kannada actress Aswathamma who played Chintamani's role than M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar. Her name was mentioned above that of Bhagavathar's in the credits.[7]


Chintamani was based on the legendary story of a Sanskrit poet and devotee of Lord Krishna named Bilwamangal (M. K. Thyragaraja Bhagavathar). Bilwamangal, a resident of Varanasi, was a Sanskrit scholar, who gets infatuated towards a courtesan called Chintamani (Aswathamma), a woman of ill-fame. As a result, he deserts his wife. However, Chintamani is an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna (Serugalathur Sama) and spends most of her time singing bhajans in praise of Lord Krishna. His attraction towards Chintamani eventually draws Bilwamangal closer towards Lord Krishna and transforms his life forever. Bilwangal, himself, becomes a devotee of Lord Krishna and pens a monumental Sanskrit work Sri Krishna Karnamritam.

Cast and crew[edit]

Aswathamma who played the title role of Chintamani
  • Aswathamma ... Chintamani
  • M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar ... Bilwamangal
  • L. Narayana Rao ... Alwar Chetty
  • S. S. Rajamani
  • Serugalathur Sama ... Actor (as Lord Krishna) and Dialogue
  • Y. V. Rao ... Actor (as Manoharan), Director and Script writer
  • Somayajulu - Dialogue
  • Papanasam Sivan - Music, Lyrics
  • B. Washgar - Cinematographer
  • M. Varma - Art Director
  • Movi Guha - Still Photographer[8]

Release and reception[edit]

Gramaphone disks of songs from Chintamani manufactured and marketed by Saraswathi Stores

Chintamani was released on 12 March 1937and became one of the most acclaimed films of early Tamil cinema.[8] Though Bhagavathar's first film Pavalakkodi had achieved some success, it was Chintamani that made Bhagavathar into a successful actor. It had an uninterrupted theatrical run of more than a year.[9] It was one of the two films of Bhagavathar, released in 1937 (the other one was Ambikapathy) which ran for more than a year. It also marked the debut in Tamil for Kannada actress Aswathamma who played the title role. Aswathamma acted in one more Tamil movie before her untimely death in 1939 due to tuberculosis.[6]

With the substantial profits obtained from the movie, the owners of Royal Talkies constructed a theatre in Madurai and named it Chintamani.[2][3][6] The Tamil writer Kalki wrote that the film has made such an impact on the viewers that the housewife would sing the song Mayaprapanchattil from the movie while preparing coffee in the morning and her husband would sing Rathey unakku kobam in order to please his sweetheart.[6]

The gramophone discs of Chintamani were also popular though M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar did not sing the songs that were featured in them as he was not under contract with Saraswathi Stores which produced the records. Instead, the songs were sung by Thuraiyur Rajagopala Sarma.[2][6] It continues to have an impact on Sinhala film music to this day.[3]

Writing in Eelakesari magazine in April 1938, Pudumaipithan praised the film as follows:



The soundtrack was composed by Papanasam Sivan. The song "Radhe Unakku" became famous and it is a cult song. Partial list of Songs from Chintamani:


  1. ^ Dhananjayan 2014, p. 16.
  2. ^ a b c Guy, Randor (21 December 2007). "Blast from the Past - Chintamani 1937". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-12-07. 
  3. ^ a b c d Muthiah, S. (3 March 2008). "An unforgettable superhit". The Hindu:Metro Plus. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  4. ^ "Tamil cinema history - The Early Days 1937 - 1944". Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  5. ^ Guy, Randor (22 August 2003). "A revolutionary filmmaker". The Hindu:Entertainment. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "MKT Filmography Part I". M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar fan site. Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  7. ^ Dhananjayan 2014, p. 17.
  8. ^ a b Film News Anandan 2004, p. 28.11.
  9. ^ a b S. Theodore Bhaskaran 2004, p. 62-3.