I didn’t like Aadhavan and I gave a critical review of the movie. The critical review started immediately after the movie and my friends were crticising me that I am expecting too much from a masala movie.
Chinmaya, my friend asked over a Chicken at KFC, “So tell me which is a perfect masala”. I immediately sprung up and said “Enga Veetu Pillai”. He snubbed and said “the MGR movie? That’s a old one man”. I just smiled and said “Absolutely no. Take any double action movie in any language barring a few exceptions like Vaali, you will have the same storyline as that movie. Even the re-runs of “Enga Veetu Pillai” made more money than the so called masalas of recent times”
I don’t hate masala movies in fact I love them because it depicts the true Indian movie style. A perfect masala should be enjoyable and should not be boring at any point of time. Glorifying Heroes – perfectly fine as long as the hero is Rajini. So here comes the mother of all masala Tamil movie of all times – “Enga Veetu Pillai”
Enga Veetu Pillai (1965)
Enga Veetu Pillai is a remake of Ramadu Bheemadu, a Telegu Movie starring NT Ramarao (Doh, why a remake in the list? There is a difference). Nagi Reddi, the famous Telugu film producer and the owner of Vijaya Productions makes this movie in Telugu and as it became a good hit, he remade this movie with minor changes to suit MG Ramachandran’s image in Tamil. It became a blockbuster in Tamil and still remembered.
Incidentally, the original is not a original too as it borrowed the storyline from Alexander Dumas’ Corsican Brothers. The story is about twin brothers Ramu and Ilango (MGR) separated in birth due to a family problem. Ramu, grown as innocent and spineless by his uncle, Narendran (MN Nambiar), who is also his Sister’s (Pandari Bai) husband. Narendran is waiting for Ramu’s 25th birthday in order to swindle the family property as written in the will of Ramu’s father. Ilango on the other hand is a spendthrift and happy go-lucky guy lives with his step-mom ( later revealed).
Leela ( Saroja Devi) initially chosen as the bride for Ramu dislikes him as she finds him cowardly but later meets Ilango, mistakes him to be Ramu and unknowingly helps him to swap places with Ramu in Narendran’s house. Ilango realizing the plight of people in the house, stays there and teaches a lesson to Narendran. Ramu on the other hand lives peacefully at Ilango’s house and falls in love with a village girl. The confusions and mix-ups dominate the movie unroll everyone finds the past and all ends well.
The movie was directed by Tapi Chanakya with Music from MS Viswanathan – Ramamurthy and produced by Nagi Reddi under Vijaya Productions Banner. The cast includes MGR, Saroja Devi, Pandari Bai, MN Nambiar, SV Rangarao, Nagesh and Thangavelu.
Why it is so Special?
1. As I said it’s the perfect masala movie with all the aspects of Indian movie style rightly placed in the right measure in a perfect way. Glorious music, hilarious comic scenes, well-made action sequences with the right dose of sentimental scenes
2. The music of the movie is still revered. Kumari Pennin Ullathile, Naan Maan Thoppil are classics and of course the best hero worship song ever made “Naan Aanai Ittal”. The song is so perfectly choreographed for the lyrics of Vaali. The picture of MGR with the whip and hands spread is a long lasting image of Tamil Cinema.
3. The comic scenes of Thangavelu, Nagesh, SV Rangarao and MGR. Nagesh, as stammering assistant of MGR was in his own self and Thangavelu as the assistant of Nambiar were equally hilarious. The facial expression of Thangavelu when Ilango hits Narendran for the first time shows it all.
4. If the supporting cast especially Saroja Devi and Pandari Bai were awesome, Nambiar as the evil uncle was fantabulous. I always believe that Villain has to be strong, because the people will love it only when the Hero prevails over the strongest evil. I think Nambiar would have been the most hated villain of all times.In this movie, he even hits MGR with the whip during the initial scenes and I dunno how people would have reacted in theatres.
5. MGR, the man. In fact this movie also gave him space to act, as the cowardly Ramu he scores full marks and Ilango is his usual characterisation which you see in most of his movies. I can only reiterate one fact – he is the best brand manager I have ever known. He knew how to engineer success and follow it up with huge success in political life too.
Why this is in the list?
1. One of the biggest trend setters in Tamil Movies. I can’t count the number of movies taken with the same story line. From the trash copy called Vani Rani (which even has a similar whipping scene like the one in Enga Veetu Pillai) to one of the recent hits of Surya – Vel, all the double action movies have been made with Enga Veetu Pillai in mind.
2. One of the biggest blockbusters in Tamil cinema and continues to be a hit even on reruns.
3. As I said, the perfect masala movie of all times which has all the ingredients rightly mixed in apt proportions
1. Ramadu Bheemadu was released in 1964 and there was a Hindi remake of the same movie called Ram Aur Shyam with Dilip Kumar (!!! I dunno how he would have suited such a storyline). It didn’t do well at the box office. All the movies were directed and produced by the same team of Tapi and Nagi Reddi.
2. “Naan Aanaiyittal” was originally written as “Naan Arasan Yendral, Naan Aandu vittal” but MGR made Vaali to change the lyrics to the current version as he felt it would the sentiments of DMK leaders. Eventually he came out of DMK to start ADMK and as they say the rest is history. Even ADMK uses the song for every election campaign
3. The song became so famous that there was a movie released as Naan Aanaiyital in 1966 with MGR in the lead.
4. One of the songs in Puthiya Bhoomi starts as “Naan ungal veetu pillai”, such is the iconic status of this song.
5. Vijaya Productions is the one of the legendary producers of movies in South India. Nagi Reddi setup the Asia’s biggest studios at that time Vijaya Vahuni studios (now Vijaya Hospital, Forum Vijaya Mall and Green Park Hotel). Known for movies like Patala Bhairavi, Maya Bazaar, Enga Veetu Pillai (Ramudu Bheemadu) and Julie. He also started the Andhra Jyothi newspaper and Chandamama (now owned by Geodesic Information Systems), children’s magazine. Vijaya Productions stopped producing movies since 1982 and have come back in to production with Ajith’s Veeram (2014).
- Many shades like a rainbow – Reminiscences of B Nagi Reddi