Padagotti (transl. Coxswain) is a 1964 Indian Tamil-language social problem film directed by T. Prakash Rao and produced by G. N. Velumani. The film stars M. G. Ramachandran and B. Saroja Devi, with M. N. Nambiar, S. V. Ramadas, Nagesh, Manorama and Jayanthi in supporting roles. It deals with the enmity between two fishing communities in a village, which is fuelled by the village's zamindar, who stands to gain the most from it all.
|Directed by||T. Prakash Rao|
|Screenplay by||Sakthi T. K. Krishnasamy|
|Produced by||G. N. Velumani|
|Starring||M. G. Ramachandran|
B. Saroja Devi
|Cinematography||P. L. Roy|
|Edited by||C. P. Jambulingam|
Padagotti's screenplay was written by Sakthi T. K. Krishnasamy, based on a story by Nannu, and cinematography was handled by P. L. Roy, while editing was handled by C. P. Jambulingam. The film was shot predominantly on locations near the seashore. It was released on 3 November 1964, during that year's Diwali day. Despite facing competition from other films released on the same day, Padagotti became a commercial success and ran for over 100 days in theatres.
Manickam is the leader of a small fishing community named Thirukaai Meenavargal (Turbot fisherman). In the same area lives Alaiyappan, the leader of an opposing fishing community named Sura Meenavargal (Shark fishermen). While Manickam is honest, compassionate and principled, Alaiyappan is the opposite, driven mainly by greed. Manickam's father wishes to see the enmity between the two groups end, and he persuades them to be friends. The Sura Meenavargal refuse, and beat him to death. Manickam promises to fulfill his father's wish, and works hard to end the enmity. The person responsible for fuelling this enmity between the groups is the village zamindar Neelamagam, who stands to gain the most from it all. Alaiyappan's blind allegiance is to Neelamagam.
Manickam soon falls in love with Alaiyappan's daughter Muthazhagi, and she reciprocates. However, their romance is disapproved of by their communities. When Manickam goes to Sura Meenavargal to seek peace, he is beaten to his apparent death. Because of this, his men nearly kill Alaiyappan, who is then saved by a mysterious old man. Thankful to the old man, Alaiyappan allows him to stay for the night at his home. Muthazhagi later realises the old man is actually Manickam in disguise, but keeps it a secret from everyone. Even when there is a boat race between the two communities, the disguised Manickam chooses to go with Sura Meenavargal, and they win. However, his cover is blown soon after, and everyone recognises him. An enraged Alaiyappan forces him to leave Muthazhagi.
Neelamagam wants to marry Muthazhagi, and Alaiyappan reluctantly agrees due to lack of funds, but Muthazhagi is unwilling. She is kept custody at Neelamagam's mansion and is unable to escape, even Manickam (in a new disguise) fails to save her. But Neelamagam's wife Meenvizhi secretly helps Muthazhagi out of the mansion. In doing so, she is killed by Neelamagam. He begins to chase Muthazhagi, but is cornered by Manickam and a fight ensues between the duo. Shortly after, the local police arrive and arrest Neelamagam for murdering his wife. With both the communities reconciling, Alaiyappan agrees for Muthazhagi and Manickam to be married.
Padagotti was directed by T. Prakash Rao, and produced by G. N. Velumani under the banner of Saravana Films. It was the company's first colour film, being colourised through Eastmancolor. The screenplay was written by Sakthi T. K. Krishnasamy, based on an original story by Nannu, and cinematography was handled by P. L. Roy, while C. P. Jambulingam was chosen as editor. M. G. Ramachandran and B. Saroja Devi were cast as Manickam and Muthazhagi, the lead pair. Nagesh was cast as Ponvandu, a comical character who beats people whenever a gramophone plays a certain music. This subplot was adapted from an episode of The Three Stooges. Most of the film was shot on actual locations near the seashore. It was poet Vaali who chose the title Padagotti for this film.
Padagotti is a social problem film that deals with groupism among fishermen, the problems of fishermen in general, and moneylenders bleeding the poor. Tamil Canadian journalist D. B. S. Jeyaraj wrote that Ramachandran portrayed different roles in his films "so that different segments of the population could relate to and identify with him", citing his role of a coxswain in Padagotti, an agriculturist in Vivasaayee (1967), and a rickshaw puller in Rickshawkaran (1971) as examples. S. Rajanayagam, author of the book Popular Cinema and Politics in South India: The Films of MGR and Rajinikanth, felt the title Padagotti, like the titles of many other Ramachandran films, was "sober, occupation-oriented and positive".
The film's original soundtrack was composed by the duo of Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy, while the lyrics were written by Vaali. The song "Thottal Poo Malarum" was composed in the Carnatic raga known as Suddhadhanyasi, and according to singer Charulatha Mani, this song "changed the outlook of this raga in films". It was later re-tuned by A. R. Rahman for the 2004 film New. The song "Tharaimel Pirakka" was composed in Bilaskhani Todi, a Hindustani raga. The song "Koduthadellam Koduthan" was originally written by Vaali for Paadhai Theriyudhu Paar (1960) which was rejected by the director of that film and later it was used in this film. Velumani felt the song "nicely captured MGR's characteristics" through the lyrics "Koduthadellam koduthan, Avan yaarukaaga koduthaan, Orutharukka koduthaan illai oorukaaga koduthaan" which translate to "He gave all that he gave, to whom did he give? Did he give for just one? No, he gave for everyone".
|1.||"Azhagu Oru Ragam"||P. Susheela|
|2.||"Ennai Eduthu"||P. Susheela|
|3.||"Kalyana Ponnu"||T. M. Soundararajan|
|4.||"Koduthellam Koduthaan"||T. M. Soundararajan|
|5.||"Naan Oru Kuzhandhai"||T. M. Soundararajan|
|6.||"Paattukku Patteduthu"||T. M. Soundararajan, P. Susheela|
|7.||"Tharaimel Pirakka"||T. M. Soundararajan|
|8.||"Thottal Poo Malarum"||T. M. Soundararajan, P. Susheela|
Release and receptionEdit
Padagotti was released on 3 November 1964, during that year's Diwali day. Despite facing competition from two other Diwali releases (Navarathri and Muradan Muthu), it became commercially successful, running for over 100 days in theatres. The Indian Express wrote on 14 November 1964, "A bright piece of acting by Ramadas and P. L. Rai's excellent outdoor photography which bares the bountiful beauty of the backwaters of Kerala are the only two redeeming features of the film. But they are as much a consolation as having enjoyed the cool breeze during a day-long futile angling."
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