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Puthiya Paravai

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Puthiya Paravai
Puthiya Paravai New Bird.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Dada Mirasi
Produced by Sivaji Ganesan
Based on Shes Anko
by Rajkumar Mitra
Starring Sivaji Ganesan
B. Saroja Devi
M. R. Radha
Sowcar Janaki
Music by Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy
Cinematography K. S. Prasad
Edited by N. M. Shankar
Production
company
Release date
12 September 1964
Running time
151 minutes
Country India
Language Tamil

Puthiya Paravai (English: New Bird) is a 1964 Indian Tamil-language romantic thriller film directed by Dada Mirasi. The film features Sivaji Ganesan, B. Saroja Devi, M. R. Radha and Sowcar Janaki in the lead roles, with V. K. Ramasamy, Nagesh and Manorama playing supporting roles. The plot revolves around Gopal, a businessman who falls in love with a woman named Latha, but is haunted by the death of his wife Chitra.

Puthiya Paravai is the maiden Tamil production of Sivaji Films, later renamed Sivaji Productions, and the third overall production for Sivaji Films after the Hindi films Amar Deep (1958) and Rakhi (1962). It is a remake of the Bengali film Shes Anko (1963), which is itself inspired by the British film Chase a Crooked Shadow (1958). The costumes featured in the film were tailored and brought from Singapore, England and Japan. The soundtrack album and background score were composed by M. S. Viswanathan and T. K. Ramamoorthy while the lyrics were written by Kannadasan.

Puthiya Paravai was released on 12 September 1964 to positive reviews, with critics praising the film's style, music, and the performances from Ganesan and Janaki while criticising the comic subplot featuring Nagesh and Manorama. The film was also a commercial success, with a theatrical run of over 100 days. It was later dubbed in Telugu as Singapore CID. Puthiya Paravai was re-released on 23 July 2010 at Ganesan's family-owned theatre Shanti, and was again met with positive response and commercial success.

Plot[edit]

Gopal is a rich businessman en route to India from Singapore on a cruise ship. He meets Latha, another traveller who has been accompanied by her father Ramadurai. Gopal and Latha find that they like each other, so Gopal invites them to stay at his palatial mansion in Ooty, which they accept. One day, Latha discovers that Gopal becomes agitated whenever he sees an onrushing train and demands the reason for it. Gopal explains that the reason behind this is his first wife.

In a flashback, after losing his mother, Gopal, in his sorrow had been wandering aimlessly at Singapore. In a nightclub, he meets a singer named Chitra. He gets attracted to her and they decide to marry, in the presence of Chitra's brother Raju. But he is disappointed — from the very first day of their marriage, she comes home inebriated, and despite his repeated requests, has little respect for tradition and family values. Eventually, Gopal's father dies of a heart attack after seeing Chitra's drunken behaviour on Gopal's birthday. Gopal tries to control Chitra, but she is always irritated by his acts. At one point, she tries to leave him. Gopal begs her to change her decision, but Chitra still leaves. The next day, he hears that Chitra had died on a railway track, and this hurts him a lot. Latha sympathises with Gopal and accepts his love.

The engagement of Gopal and Latha is fixed and while the reception is being held, a young woman arrives, claiming to be Chitra, accompanied by her uncle Rangan. Gopal says the woman is an impostor, but she and her uncle produce evidence which convinces even Gopal's police officer friend Kumar. Gopal's engagement with Latha is cancelled. Chitra and Rangan become disruptive and Gopal gets frustrated, fearing that Latha might leave him because his "wife" has turned up. Several days later, Gopal reveals the truth to everyone. In a flashback, when Chitra was ready to leave Gopal, he slapped her. Chitra, suffering from a heart condition, is unable to take the insult of his slap and dies from the shock. Gopal realises that he had inadvertently killed his wife. To avoid arrest, and safeguard the honour of his family, he manipulates the murder to appear like a suicide on a railway track and fabricates the necessary evidence to show that Chitra committed suicide. Thus, Gopal escapes from the charges of murder. Not wishing to continue living in Singapore, he leaves by a ship to India.

Upon hearing this, Latha reveals herself as a police officer investigating Chitra's death based on the complaint filed by Raju, while posing as daughter and father. Ramadurai is her senior posing as her father, Rangan is the local investigating officer, while the woman impersonating Chitra is actually Rangan's aide, Saroja. Together, they staged an entrapment to get the killer's confession, because there was no other conclusive evidence. Latha confesses to a dejected Gopal that though she initially pretended to love him, his good nature impressed her and she truly loves him; she promises that she will wait for him till he returns after completing his jail term. Gopal is relieved, but is still arrested and imprisoned.

Cast[edit]

Any role that is unusual, unconventional has a special appeal for me, a character like the one I played in Puthiya Paravai. Maybe it has something to do with my own psyche. I love complex characters.
- Sowcar Janaki, in an interview with Film World[1]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The 1958 British thriller film Chase a Crooked Shadow, directed by Michael Anderson, was a global success, especially in India.[3] It inspired the Bengali film Shes Anko (1963), which starred Uttam Kumar, Sharmila Tagore and Sabitha Chowdhary. Shes Anko's screenplay by Rajkumar Mitra was acquired by Sivaji Films (later renamed Sivaji Productions) to be made in Tamil as its first "in-house" production.[3] The film was titled Puthiya Paravai, meaning "New Bird",[4] with Dada Mirasi as its director and screenwriter.[3] Shanmugham, a relative of Sivaji Films founder Sivaji Ganesan, also made inputs to the film's screenplay.[5] The film was the third production for Sivaji Films after the Hindi films Amar Deep (1958) and Rakhi (1962).[6] Arur Doss wrote the dialogues for the film.[7]

Sivaji Ganesan was cast as the male lead. Both the female leads – B. Saroja Devi and Sowcar Janaki – were cast in roles different from what they were earlier proposed for.[8] According to Ganesan's eldest son Ramkumar, "Sivaji always thought of Sowcar Janaki as classy and sophisticated," which was why he cast her as a "modern woman" in Puthiya Paravai. "Before that Sowcar had only acted in homely roles".[9] Mirasi, who made a cameo appearance as the hero's father in the film,[3] was initially not convinced about Janaki acting in the film. But after seeing her performance in the song "Paartha Gnaabagam Illaiyo", Mirasi decided to include her for the rest of the film.[10] Janaki added her own subtle distinctions and inputs to her role as portraying an out-and-out seductive vamp, according to her, would have felt deplorable.[11] Nagesh, S. V. Ramadoss, V. K. Ramasamy, M. R. Radha, O. A. K. Thevar and Manorama were cast in supporting roles.[12][13]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography for Puthiya Paravai took place at Neptune Studios and Vijaya Vauhini Studios.[14] It was filmed in Eastmancolor.[5][15] The costumes were tailored and brought from Singapore and England,[5] although Sowcar Janaki's costumes in the film were personally brought from Hong Kong as she did not like the dresses tailored for her.[16] K. S. Prasad, N. M. Shankar, and Ganga served as the film's cinematographer, editor and art director respectively.[17] The tuxedo worn by Ganesan in the film was ordered from London.[8] For the filming of the song "Unnai Ondru Ketpen", Ganesan smoked so as to set the mood for the song's feel.[18] For some scenes in the film, Saroja Devi was made to walk with mincing steps and flutter her eyelashes.[19]

After the climax was finished, Arur Doss immediately requested Ganesan and Mirasi to do the sequence again with the addition of the dialogue "Pennmaye! Nee Vaazhga! Ullame Unakku Oru Nanri" (English:"Oh Lady! May you live long! A note of thanks to your heart"). When Ganesan asked the reason for including it, Arur Doss mentioned that Ganesan's character would be looked upon by the theatre audiences in a negative light if he did not say anything to confirm his love for Saroja Devi's character. Understanding the dialogue's essence, Mirasi then re-filmed the climax and included it.[14] The film was processed at Gemini Studios' laboratory.[20] The final length of the film was over 4,400 metres (14,400 ft).[a]

Themes[edit]

In her 2002 book Cinema of Interruptions: Action Genres in Contemporary Indian Cinema, Lalitha Gopalan noted that the male protagonists in Indian films use the piano to express their desire with no regard to the consequences and cited Sivaji Ganesan in Puthiya Paravai as an example for the same.[23]

Music[edit]

Puthiya Paravai
Soundtrack album by
Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy
Genre Feature film soundtrack
Language Tamil
Label Saregama
Producer
  • M. S. Viswanathan
  • T. K. Ramamoorthy

The film's soundtrack and score were composed by the duo Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy (M. S. Viswanathan and T. K. Ramamoorthy) while the lyrics were written by Kannadasan; T. M. Soundararajan and P. Susheela are the only singers featured in the soundtrack.[24] The soundtrack was released under the label of Saregama.[25] The first song recorded was "Chittu Kuruvi".[5] "Paartha Gnaabagam Illaiyo" is inspired by Dean Martin's version of "Sway".[26][27] Philips, an autodidact guitarist, played the guitar for "Aha Mella".[28] "Unnai Ondru Ketpen" has a ragtime piano introduction while its interlude includes saxophone music.[29]

The heavily orchestrated "Engey Nimmadhi" number, at that time, had the highest number of instruments used for recording. Choir singers from the Purasawalkam and Vepery areas of Chennai were used in the song.[30] According to film historian and actor Mohan V. Raman, "Kannadasan could not get the right words nor was there a tune ready and Sivaji came to the composing and did a pantomime of what he would like to do and thus was born the line and the song".[31] Cellist R. Selvaraj, whose father was a part of the orchestration for "Engey Nimmadhi" said 250 instrumentalists were used for playing different instruments in sync.[32] Other sources state that Viswanathan used over 300 instruments for the song.[33][34] The music directors tried over 100 different ways of composing the tune of "Engey Nimmadhi" before the song was recorded.[5] It was based on the raga Bilaskhani Todi.[35] S. S. Vasan of The Hindu Tamil compared the sombre moments in "Engey Nimmadhi" to that of the song "Mujhko Is Raat Ki Tanhai Me" from Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere (1960).[36] The song "Yae Dushyanta", composed by Bharathwaj for Asal (2010) samples "Paartha Gnaabagam Illaiyo".[37] Singer Karthik performed "Aha Mella" live at "Two to Tango", an October 2016 concert organised by the Rotary Club of Madras South.[38]

The soundtrack received positive response from critics; all the songs were successful,[3] especially "Engey Nimmadhi".[39] Film historian Randor Guy stated, "The movie has excellent music (Viswanathan-Ramamurthy; lyrics by Kannadasan) and many songs became hits — Paartha Gnaabakam Illayo...!, Unnai ondru ketpen (P. Sushila [sic]) and Engey nimmathee (T. M. Soundararajan)."[3] Malathi Rangarajan of The Hindu said, "Who can forget the everlasting flavour of MSV’s expertise that emanated through each and every number, beginning with ‘Unnai Ondru Kaetpaen’!"[5] Film critic Baradwaj Rangan called it a "stylish musical bonanza".[40] According to singer Charulatha Mani, "Unnai Ondru Ketpen" was based on the Harikambhoji raaga and further wrote, "In the phrase, ‘Ennai Pada Sonnal’, the notes SRGR,S S,N set the mood for the raga." whilst also calling the song a "super-hit piece".[41] Music director and singer Ramesh Vinayakam said "Engey Nimmadhi" was an example of "the unconscious yet natural and healthy fusion that was happening to cinema music at the hands of music directors."[42] The Hindu included "Engey Nimmadhi" in its list, "Immortal songs of TMS".[43] P. K. Ajith Kumar of The Hindu stated, "Just as [Susheela] does not need to know the language to sing a song perfectly, we need not know Tamil to enjoy her songs like ... Chittukkuruvi... ( Puthiya Paravai )".[44] The Times of India noted, "Think any of Sivaji Ganesan's songs and you'll immediately think of the film. Be it the seductive club song Partha Nyabagam Illayo (Pudhiya Paravai)... the songs in his films were perfectly in sync with the sequence."[45]

Track listing
No. Title Singer(s) Length
1. "Engey Nimmadhi" T. M. Soundararajan 6:21
2. "Chittu Kuruvi" P. Susheela 5:08
3. "Aha Mella" T. M. Soundararajan 4:12
4. "Unnai Ondru Ketpen" P. Susheela 3:02
5. "Paartha Gnaabagam Illaiyo" P. Susheela 3:38
6. "Paartha Gnaabagam Illaiyo (Sad)" P. Susheela 4:00
7. "Unnai Ondru Ketpen (Sad)" P. Susheela 2:10
Total length: 28:31

Release[edit]

Puthiya Paravai was released on 12 September 1964.[22] It was originally slated to be released in the theatre Shanthi,[31] which is Sivaji Ganesan's family-held theatre.[8] However, the Hindi film Sangam was already running there successfully, so Ganesan instead released in the now non-existent theatre Paragon at Wallajah Road, which had to be refurbished before the film's screening.[31][46] It was Sangam's lead actor, Raj Kapoor, who requested Ganesan to allow his film to continue running at Shanti, to which Ganesan obliged.[47] The film was later dubbed in Telugu as Singapore CID.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Puthiya Paravai received positive reviews.[3] On 4 October 1964, the review from Ananda Vikatan said the film could be accepted intellectually, but found it emotionally tough to accept due to the climax.[48] On 1 October, film critic Dinakaran, writing for the magazine Mutharam, found the film to be truly "Hitchcockian". Dinakaran praised Ganesan's performance, noting that he pulls it off with effortless ease. He however, criticised Nagesh and Manorama's comedy, finding it dry.[20] In a review dated 12 September 1964, The Indian Express wrote about the film's central mystery, "[W]hen it is revealed after seven songs[,] a lot of love-play and familiar kitchen comedy, it loses its suspense and does not amount to much." The reviewer praised the performances of Ganesan and the supporting cast but criticised the comic subplot featuring Nagesh, the dialogue, lyrics, songs and make-up, and concluded, "The photographer and the art director seem to have a weakness for the colour red, but otherwise have done a good job."[49]

Malathi Rangarajan of The Hindu said, "[Puthiya] Paravai is a thriller in the whodunit genre. Dada Mirasi's astute adaptation saw to it that the suspense was maintained till the very end, and the denouement neatly tied up the strands of suspense."[5] The Times of India rated the film four out of five, praising the performances of Ganesan, Saroja Devi, Janaki and Radha, and stated, "Coupled with the stylish visuals of KV Prasad and a haunting score by the composer duo MS Viswanathan and TK Ramamurthy, the film proves to be an irresistible thriller." The reviewer did, however, note that the first half of the film moved at a slow pace, but called the climax "riveting".[50]

Guy stated, "Sivaji Ganesan as the hero forced into a corner is excellent. Saroja Devi exudes glamour, while Sowcar Janaki as the boozing wife acquits her role with considerable conviction", concluding that the film would be "Remembered for the taut onscreen narration, the excellent performances by Sivaji Ganesan, Sowcar Janaki and M. R. Radha, and Saroja Devi’s glamour".[3] Film historian Film News Anandan praised it for being "the first film which had a classy, rich look right through."[8] T. Ramakrishnan of The Hindu called Saroja Devi's character a "brilliant role".[51] Mohan V. Raman noted that Janaki was popular mainly for her "sentimental" roles, but described her "anti-sentimental" role in Puthiya Paravai as one of her "exceptional performances".[52] Writing for The Wire, Apoorva Sripathi described the scene where Chitra arrives drunk at Gopal's birthday party with her extramarital lover, much to his embarrassment, as one among her three favourite "women’s drinking scenes" in film.[53]

Box office[edit]

In Chennai, Puthiya Paravai had a theatrical run of 132 days at Paragon, 76 days at the theatres Krishna and Sayani, and for eight weeks in all major centres. Due to the successful run of the film at Paragon, Aandavan Kattalai (1964), which was also running at the same theatre, was removed after completing 70 days.[31]

In popular culture[edit]

Puthiya Paravai is frequently screened on Tamil television channels,[3] most notably Jaya TV.[54][55] The songs were featured in a charity concert held by M. S. Viswanathan at the Kamaraj Arangam in Chennai on 14 July 2012.[56] In April 2006, P. Susheela chose "Paartha Gnaabagam Illaiyo" and "Unnai Ondru Ketpen" along with "Paal Polave" from Uyarndha Manithan (1968) as her favourite songs that she had recorded.[57][58] A song from Nadigan (1990) also has the same title as the song from Puthiya Paravai—"Engey Nimmadhi".[59] In September 2014, Vijay Sethupathi, in an interview with Sudhir Srinivasan of The Hindu, listed Puthiya Paravai among his favourite films alongside Ratha Kanneer (1954), Thillana Mohanambal (1968) and Rajapart Rangadurai (1973).[60]

Many scenes from the film, especially those involving Sivaji Ganesan and Saroja Devi were parodied many times. One notable parody is the comedy track from Guru En Aalu (2009), which featured Vivek and M. S. Bhaskar, who imitate Saroja Devi and Sivaji Ganesan respectively. The parody became popular and was frequently screened on comedy channels like Adithya TV and Sirippoli.[61][62][63][64] In Muthu (1995), Padmini (Subhashri) hums the song "Aha Mella".[65] In Thenali (2000), Kailash (Jayaram) watches "Chittu Kuruvi" on television but changes the channel after imagining that Ganesan's face morphs into that of Thenali (Kamal Haasan).[66] In the film Siruthai (2011), Kaatu Poochi (Santhanam) watches the film's climax on television before stealing the television set.[67] Posters of the film were featured in Anant Mahadevan's The Xposé (2014).[68] Scenes from Puthiya Paravai are featured in the film Burma (2014).[69][70]

In the third season of the television show Airtel Super Singer, the show's host Dhivyadharshini and singer Mano imitate Saroja Devi and Sivaji Ganesan's mannerisms from the film.[71] "Paartha Gnaabagam Illaiyo" inspired the title of a television serial, which featured actress Kushboo. The serial premiered on Kalaignar TV in March 2012.[72][73]

Re-releases[edit]

Footage from Puthiya Paravai was screened at Ganesan's 80th birthday celebrations held at Kalaignar Arangam, Chennai in 2008.[74] The film was re-released on 23 July 2010 to commemorate the ninth anniversary of Sivaji Ganesan's death.[31] The negatives of the film were "cleaned up at a lab" prior to release, and the film was released at Shanthi theatre, where it could not originally be released in 1964. Despite being a re-release, the film earned public acclaim and took a good opening, running to one-hundred percent theatre occupancy for three days,[8] and became a commercial success.[75] In 2013, production house Sai Ganesh Films announced that the film's digitally restored version would be released in 2014, 50 years since the original release in 1964, but this did not happen.[76] The film was screened at the Russian Cultural Centre Auditorium in Alwarpet on 14 September 2014.[77]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ While the film's official length given by its CBFC certificate is 4,473 metres (14,675 ft),[21] film historian Film News Anandan's 2004 book Saadhanaigal Padaitha Thamizh Thiraipada Varalaru measures it at 4,486 metres (14,718 ft).[22]

References[edit]

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