Scenes Were Picturised At Ratnalaya Bungalow @ Race Course
Not many are aware that Sivaji-Padmini starrer thriller movie ‘Maragatham’ was made in Coimbatore. Based on ‘Karunkuyil Kunrathu Kolai’ by T.S.D.Sami novel is story knot for the movie. The film had Balachander, Sandya and Chandrababu in the cast and produced by S.M.Sriramulu Naidu, K.R.Sreenivasan, N.Nagasubramaniyam and written by (dialogues) Murasoli Maran. The screenplay and direction was by S.M.Sriramulu Naidu while the music was by S.M.Subbiah Naidu. Shailen Bose had done the cinematography and the movie was edited by Velusamy. It was produced and distributed by Pakshiraja Studios. The other stars in the movie were T.S.Baliah, T.S.Durairaj, O.A.K. Thevar, P.S.Gnanam, T.P.Muthulakshmi, Lakshmirajam, Lakshmiprabha, M.R.Santhanam and Ennatha Kannaiya.
The movie is embedded with 7 songs and the lyrics were done by Shuddhananda Bharati, Papanasam Sivan, Ku.Ma. Balasubramanian, Ra.Balu. The songs were rendered by J.P.Chandrababu, T.M.Soundararajan, Radha Jayalakshmi, P.Leela and K.Jamuna Rani. The famous song ‘Kunguma Poove Konjum Purave’ is loved even during the sixtieth year of the release of this movie which stands lengthy at 3 hours and 23 minutes. Recently, the movie was screened during one of the ‘Coimbatore Vizha’ celebrations thanks to the interest shown by the Young Indians Member Pradeep Krishnaraj.
‘Maragatham’ was remade in Telugu by S.M.Sriramulu Naidu as ‘Vimala’ starring N.T.Rama Rao and Savithri. Sivaji does a beautiful job as Varendran while Padmini is Maragatham / Alamu. Sandya comes in as Karpagavalli and Veena Maestro S.Balachander as Anandar. J.P.Chandrababu is Gundan in the movie. The movie is a suspense thriller. A Raja is murdered and the crime is put on the brother who is none other than S.Balachander. His pretty wife Sandya waits for her husband who had got away from jail. She is also upset that her daughter Padmini was no more but the daughter is alive and comes to the mother. However, the mother Sandya is not aware that the girl is her daughter. The old comedian T.S.Durairaj has done a marvelous role. The Prince, Sivaji Ganesan falls for Padmini without knowing that she is the daughter of his sister. The facts come out and the murderer T.S.Baliah is exposed, the couples are united and everything is fine.
S.Balachander had done a marvelous job by putting up an impressive performance. J.P.Chandrababu is the comedian who does the role of a lovelorn butler. He had rendered the song very well and his performance connected with the song is enthralling. The excellent outdoor sets had been prepared by A.K.Sekhar. Dr.S. Srihari, the octogenarian son of S.M.Sriramulu Naidu remembers the movie shoot at the Bolgatty Palace in Kerala. The whole place had been hired by S.M.Sriramulu Naidu and the crew had enjoyed the time. Textile technocrat and the former Vice President of the Coimbatore Cosmopolitan Club, Dr.V.R.Sivakumar remembers watching the preview of ‘Maragatham’ at the Pakshiraja Studios along with his grand father, R.K.Venkatachalam Chettiar of Vasantha Mills.
A part of the movie had been done at ‘Ratnalaya’ in Race Course. This lovely bungalow had been constructed by the philanthropist cum mill owner A.T.Devaraja Mudaliar over 80 years ago. The design for this iconic bungalow had been made after visiting a number of places in Mysore. The film millionaire Swamikannu Vincent had also been involved in the process. Sundaribai, the wife of A.T.Devaraja Mudaliar happened to be the daughter of Janopakarakartha Anandaraya Mudaliar, the Jagirdar of Sivasamudram in modern Karnataka. The ancestors of this Jagirdar had built a nice bridge across the River Cauvery in the nineteenth century. The Jagirdars had a huge mansion near the Jaganmohana Ranganatha Temple in Sivasamudram and used to preside over vast tracts of lands and number of villages. A.T. Devaraja Mudaliar had named his house after his mother Rathnammal (wife of A.T. Thiruvengadasami Mudaliar). He founded the AdhiLakshmi School and the Lotus Mills and had named the location as ‘Sundarapuram’ after his beloved wife nearly 85 years ago. The ATD couple had named their daughter as Premakumari after the name of Satya Premakumari, the Queen of Mysore.
Pakshiraja Studios was located in Puliyakulam and had its own set of skilled people who could make sets. A parlour and canteen were part of the studio. There were rooms for actors and technicians. Top stars MGR, Sivaji, N.T.Rama Rao and Dileep Kumar had stayed in those rooms. Quite a few carpenters who had worked at the studio did marvelously well later. The sample of this work is found at the residence of Dr.S.Srihari. Today, a part of the property which belonged to Sriramulu Naidu has become Pakshiraja Apartments. Naidu believed in having a rent income and put up a commercial building in Chennai in pursuit of his thinking. He had a nice bungalow at Chennai. Naidu moved over to Bengaluru and created Chamundeshwari Studios in the garden city. A number of MGR starrers were made in Karnataka because of this venture. The craftsmen like Krishnan of Pakshiraja Studios excelled in plaster of paris work. B.K.Rajashekharan, the Founder of B.K.R Perfumeries had employed the skills of Krishnan to make the amazing Astalakshmi icons in his residence. The eight deities are a master piece and many bungalows in Coimbatore are embellished with such pieces.
The iconic Pakshiraja Studios had been established by S.M.Sriramulu Naidu in the year 1945 and he had been associated with Central Studios until then. ‘Kannika’ was the first production of S.M.Sriramulu Naidu at Pakshiraja Studios and it was here that he had made the first ever movie of Sabarimalai Ayyappan. A number of dignitaries had visited the studio and enjoyed the hospitality of Naidu for decades.
The movie ‘Maragatham’ contains a number of songs which were hits and they are – Kunguma poove Konjum Purave, Aadinaal Nadanam Adinaal, Kannukulle Unnai Paru, Kaveri Payum, Maalai Mayangukindra Neram, Punnaigai Thavazhum Madhimugamo and Pachai Kili Pola. ‘Maragatham’ will be remembered by the people of Coimbatore and the world of cinema will forever cherish the good work of Sriramulu Naidu. Coimbatore had given yet another fine movie to the world of entertainment.