‘Sandow’ Chinnappa Thevar is considered one of the most successful film producers in the history of south Indian cinema. From humble beginnings, Thevar climbed the ladder. He hung around Central Studios in Coimbatore whom he supplied milk to, and played uncredited roles in chase and fight sequences in the studios’ movies. His first appearance was in a fight sequence in Thilothama (1940).
Thevar was fond of animals. Indeed, he had a private zoo consisting of tigers, lions and cheetahs, and made good use of them in his movies. He tasted box-office success with Neelamalai Thirudan featuring Ranjan of Chandralekha fame and plenty of other films with M.G. Ramachandran. Thevar also ventured into Hindi cinema and his film with Rajesh Khanna, Haathi Mere Saathi proved to be one of his biggest hits. This film was made in Tamil as Nalla Neram with MGR, and was equally successful.
Thevar’s younger brother M.A. Thirumugam joined Central Studios soon after his studies and worked in the editing department before blossoming as a director. He directed Thevar’s films such as Vaazhavaitha Deivam. This film had a formidable star cast with ‘Gemini’ Ganesan and Saroja Devi in the lead, along with Subbaiah, Balaiah and the inimitable Kannamba as the mother. There were dance sequences choreographed by Chopra, Hiralal and Rajkumar and performed by Padmini Priyadarshini and Rita.
The story and dialogue were by Aaroor Das who had a successful innings as screenwriter and director of a few films. Lyrics were by Pattukkotai Kalyanasundaram, Marudhakasi, Thanjai Ramaiah Das, A.S. Narayanan and Kovai Kumaradevan. Melody maestro K.V. Mahadevan composed the music and the film was shot at Vijaya-Vauhini Studios, so rich in film history but does not exist today.
The story, rather complicated, is set against a rural backdrop. It is about two families with certain individuals who create misunderstandings between them. A young man and a woman from the two families fall in love and undergo tribulations, which include kidnapping and attempts to murder. The mother is the unifying force, who has her own struggles before she brings all of them together in a happy ending. In the story were woven interesting elements such as ’jallikkattu’ (taming of the bulls) and a cheetah fighting the bull.
The film was well-directed, and the lead pair Ganesan and Saroja Devi contributed well to the romantic sequences. Kannamba played the sacrificing mother convincingly. Vaazhavaitha Deivam was a reasonable success, and this film was dubbed in Telugu as Karmika Vijayam, but it did not meet with success.
Remembered for the impressive performances of Gemini Ganesan, Saroja Devi, Kannamba, Balaiah and Subbaiah. And, the bull and the cheetah!