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the list of films which could be called evergreen entertainers,
Thillana Mohanambal would definitely be at the top.
The film set the grammar for complete viewing pleasure.
It was the first time that the Tamil industry took a
long look at the lives of performing artistes. Kothamangalam
Subbu wrote the story as a series in a popular magazine
in the late 1950s. The screen adaptation was excellent
and the screenplay portrayed the socio-cultural milieu
prevailing at the turn-of-century setting of the story
in a most subtle manner. The system of devadasis and
patronage by the zamindars and nawabs were incorporated
so well and the actors who played the respective characters
brought out the shades very well.
is basically a simple love story between two talented
but temperamental artistes. The incidents in which the
lead stars apparently clash just show the depth of love
each has for the other. The backdrop of professional
rivalry and one-upmanship blended beautifully in fostering
the romance. It also portrayed the dedication and team
spirit that the artists of the era showed towards their
chosen profession. For example, in the opening scene
Shanmugasundaram would refuse to play the nadaswaram
just because there were some distracting disturbances
in a temple festival.At the same time, he would play
outside a maharaja’s palace to an attentive audience.
Similarly, in another scene one of the supporting artists
in Shanmugam’s team would say that hands which
had played accompanying him would not do so for any
other no matter whatever wealth came by. Mohana’s
the agent Vaithi are unforgettable negative shades in
human personality. Nagesh as Vaithi brought a new dimension
to the comic villain. His unique body language and ethnicity
in character were a hit with the audience.
The obstacles which
the lovers face are both in the form of circumstances
and personalities. The misunderstandings between the
lovers and the reconciliation attempts by the go-between,
Jil Jil Ramamani played by the effervescent Manorama
added suspense and an air of expectation. Her playing
the nadaswaram and the folksy dance number are still
The wonderful lyrics by Kannadasan,
especially the haunting Nalandana and the top-of-the-drawer
music by MSV and Ramamurthy were great plus points for
the film. Story by Kothamangalam Subbu and Screenplay
and direction by A.P. Nagarajan.