Movie: Thillana Mohanambal
Cast: Shivaji Ganesan, Padmini, Manorama, Balaiya, C.K. Saraswathi, S.V. Sahasranamam
Direction: A.P. Nagarajan
Release Year: 1968
Every art has its own time and there are certain artistic contributions which make classical returns. To win people and reward and also to sustain the contemporary deeds means classicism. In movie world classical touches are rare and occur at unusual frequencies. It requires lot of intelligence to create such a theme, imagination to present to the audience and above all the movie should possess all the qualities for a fit film.
In Tamil cinema, the periods from the 60s to 80s witnessed a large volume of classical movies thanks to the directors then who perceived the notion in the proper manner. The likes of Bhimsingh, AP Nagarajan, AC Thirulokachander, Sridhar, were remarkable personalities who lived for the classical means alone. Their films reflected the surround and sublime qualities to reap great admiration from the audience. For these technicians, framing a scene amidst various constraints was a real challenge which they partook with ease.
AP Nagarajan was the one director who forayed into the classic touch for his films. He believed in the heavenly atmosphere for his film background and his option for historical background could be seen from his movies like Thiruvilayadal. APN inherited a sense of remorse from his ancestral technicians and his passion for convention was apparent in almost all his films.
He had a special regard for music especially in regional music of Tamilnadu. To commemorate his interest towards the artistic means of music, he began a theme for his movie. The result was a love twined musical subject Thillana Mohanambal.
For AP Nagarajan, the artists were as much important as the script. His choice of characters was based on the actors he would choose for the film. That was one of the chief reasons that APN could attribute for his success. He could not brand it as star value but for the wholeness of the subject.
Hence in Thillana Mohanambal, APN fixed the artists Sivaji Ganesan in the lead opposite Padmini. Other major actors included Balaiah, Nambiar, Nagesh, AVM Rajan who all found place in the movie with great vigor.
Thillana Mohanambal was released in 1968 as a melodrama with romance. The movie, though running for more than 150 minutes had not bored any audience. Such was the essence of the theme that the director APN formed and the proportionate recipe of romance, villainy, emotion and comedy made this movie’s instant success.
That was the time when the audience were longing to have entertainment after their hard work, especially in the rural sector. So it was no surprise that the directors had to heed to the demands of such audience. Moreover the star value too played a great role. Unlike the current movies, which have hero worship with the dominance of single hero, those films were designed with almost major popular heroes.
Even the heroes of that time had good rapport and affinity among them so as not to have any unpleasant atmosphere. That was why most of the films had cast with the combination of Sivaji, Balaji, Muthuraman, SS Rajendran, Gemini Ganesan and all.
The story of Thillana Mohanambal is a simple narration of how music emancipates love to the artists and the traditional hate-love makes binding relationship. Sivaji Ganesan is the nagaswaram player as Shanmugasundaram who has a very good team of his consisting Balaiah and others. The team has the schedule to visit functions and programs to have their concert. On a particular occasion he happens to see Padmini the Natyam dancer who too attends to such functions. As love would grab them each other, the hearts long to unite. But the situations prevent them the unity. Padmini’s mother is avaricious for money and she plans to marry Padmini to Balaji (Singapuram Jamindar).
In the meantime, the love faces threat from the villainy of Nambiar who seduces Padmini through Nagesh. However Manorama thwarts any such attempts and the music prone lovers have to face the challenges of their talent. The fight between Nagaswaram and Bharatha Natyam intensifies to make the love stronger. At the end of the challenge, both Shanmugasundaram and Padmini spell blood for proving their dedication to both music and love. The end is joyous, typical to Tamil film of those days, and the lovers unite.
AP Nagarajan scripted the situations for Thillana Mohanambal in a coherent manner without any flaw. The narration too is effective and the audience can sit at a stretch to watch this movie. The lyrics are from the legendry Kannadasan who gave life to each song. It was the period when songs were composed on the basis of words for the tunes.
KV Mahadevan who excelled in all his films then had a special focus on Thillana Mohanambal, since it revolved around music. P Suseela’s sweetened voice elevated the sensual effect of the songs especially Marainthirunthu Parkumm Marmam Enna and Nalanthana Udalum Ullamum Nalanthana.
Kannadasan’s lyrics in the first song had the lines indicating the hero’s name in the flow of the song, Madava Velava Enai Aalum Shanmuga Vaa is a clear reflection of the classical touch. No other lyricist can make such coinciding lines for the situations.
The humors from Balaiah, Karunanidhi and Nagesh along with Manorama formed the core for the full length entertainment.
Thillana Mohanambal was the inspiration for the later director Gangai Amaran to make the film Karakaatakkaaran with Ramarajan in the lead role. We can watch more similarities between these two films and the importance given to music.
The song Nalandhana’s pallavi was remixed for Simbu movie Silambattam.
Sivaji Ganesan took notes on playing the Nagaswaram from the Madurai Brothers called NPN Sethuraman and NPN Ponnusamy.