Romantic Comedies are a rarity in Tamil Cinema. I believe a perfect Romantic Comedy should have the right proportions of both. How many Tamil movies you have seen with both of these coming in right proportions. I have decided to showcase two romantic comedies in the 40s-70s era which were trend setters for the future. Theses two movies have been diligently (shamelessly) reproduced by some of the later directors with some changes and still became superhits.
Rom Coms can be made in two different ways – one which will have only two lead characters, the story traverses through them and the situations they encounter. And the other type of story, depict more than one couple, their problems and the inter twining of situations etc. The first movie which I am going to show case is of the first genre.
Anbe Vaa (1966)
Anbe Vaa was the start of all those romantic movies where the boy meets girl. They start fighting. Fall in love but never want to express. Relationship ends with a rift. Atlast they reconcile and love triumphs.
I am not kidding but i think 99% of the love stories in Tamil Cinema followed this trend and most of them succeeded. The latest one being Siva Manasula Sakthi, which was a hit too.
Anbe Vaa was loosely based on 1961 Hollywood Comedy “Come September”. JB (MGR) is a very successful businessman fed up and stressed out with his monotonous life wants to take a break in his summer bungalow in Shimla. When he arrives, he finds that his manager’s brother in law (Nagesh) had made the place in to a summer resort and making Money from tourists. He meets Latha (Saroja Devi) and finds her attractive so he joins the band of tourists for a rent in his house. Only his manager’s daughter (Manorama) knows that he is the owner but he silences her to have fun. JB acts as a Balu, a normal salaried guy.
JB and Latha gets in to small cat fights each trying to pull others leg with practical jokes. They eventually fall in love but never want to express each other. Latha thinks even JB’s love is a practical joke. Enters Asokan, a Pilot, Maternal uncle of Latha and a long time friend of JB. He alsi joins the bandwagon of JB’s acting. Tired of JBs practical jokes, Latha decides to marry her uncle. But he finds the love between her and JB, unites them. When JB reveals his true identity before the marriage, Latha thinks it’s yet another practical joke from JB but all end’s well in the climax.
The cast includes MG Ramachandran, Saroja Devi, Asokan, Nagesh, Manorama, TR Ramachandran and so on. The movie was directed by AC Thirulogachander, produced by AVM and music by MS Viswanathan.
What’s so special about the Movie?
1. The story in itself. Nobody even thought of having a 3 Hr movie with only two lead characters fighting at each other would make a good screen play. The screen play was so wonderful that it never lagged a bit.
2. The music – I think this movie’s album was one of the best ever to come in Tamil Cinema. The dream combo of MS Viswanathan – Vaali was nothing short of greatness. Pudhiya Vaanam Pudhiya Bhoomi, Rajavin Paarvai, Love Birds Love Birds, Anbe Vaa, a western based Nadodi (was it a copy?), Once a papa met a Mama (Baila) and above all Naan Parthathile Aval Oruthiyaithan Were memorable hits. (Actually once when I sang Naan Parthathile in my college, I had a roaring applause at the start of the song – that’s the level it had reached even in the hearts of younger generation)
3. MGR was a action hero and he was known for his complete masala entertainers. He was courageous enough to take such a role and the producers were brave enough to cast him.
Why it is in the list?
1. Simply because it was a trend setter. Nobody can count the number of movies inspired by Anbe Vaa. It gave the directors and producers the confidence that rom coms can make money too (Not just money but big money)
2. For the music, screen play and MGRs acting. Anyways the producers did compromise something for MGR, they had to add a fight sequence as they didn’t want to take MGR movie without a fight. They were prudent enough because few producers had lost quite some money by not compromising for MGRs star power.
1. AVM had this wonderful team of in house script writers who can turn any language movie in to a Tamil script. As Anbe Vaa was a rehash of Come September, the other movies from their production house were mostly based on other language movies. Jaavert Seetharaman was considered to be a expert in converting scripts to suit the Tamil audiences.
2. Anbe Vaa was the first script made by AVM to suit a star actor. They usually choose the actor based on the script made.
3. Although the story takes place in Shimla, 95% of the movie was shot in Ooty. Only the introductory song of MGR was shot in Shimla to authenticate that the movie takes place in Shimla.
4.Anbe Vaa was the first complete color movie produced by AVM
5.Naan Parthathile was one of the few songs shot in outdoor with MGR as he avoids the public shooting due to the huge fan following he had and he never used to learn dance in front of the public in order to maintain his image.
6. During those days, the release of the lyrics as a book was popular. AVM released the Anbe Vaa lyric book like a LB Record, which was even sold in black for higher prices.
7. Anbe Vaa ran for 23 weeks and it’s one of the biggest blockbusters for AVM. MGR demanded a salary of 3.25 Lakhs for the movie ( do your inflation calculations)
PS: All the trivia about AVM are credited to the book by M.Saravanan, “AVM 60 Cinema”
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