Romantic Comedies are a rarity in Tamil Cinema. I believe a perfect Romantic Comedy should have the right proportions of both romance and comedy. How many Tamil movies you have seen with both of these coming in correct proportions. I have decided to showcase two romantic comedies in the 40s -70s era that was trendsetters for the future. These two movies have been diligently (shamelessly) reproduced by some of the subsequent 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 intertwining of situations, etc. Anbe Vaa 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. The relationship ends with a rift. In the end, 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 successful businessman fed up and stressed out with his dull life wants to take a break at his summer bungalow at Shimla. When he arrives, he finds that his manager’s brother-in-law (Nagesh) had made the place into a summer resort and making money from tourists. He meets Latha (Saroja Devi) and finds her attractive, so he joins the group of tourists for rent in his house. Only his manager’s daughter (Manorama) knows that he is the owner, but he silences her to have fun with Nagesh. JB acts as Balu, an average salaried guy.
JB and Latha get into small catfight each trying to pull other’s leg with practical jokes. They eventually fall in love but never want to express. 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 also joins the bandwagon of JB’s acting tirade. 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. AC Thirulogachander directed the movie while AVM produced it with music from MS Viswanathan.
What’s so special about the Movie?
1. The story itself. Nobody even thought of having a 3 Hr movie with only two lead characters fighting at each other would make a good screenplay. The screenplay was so incredible that it never lagged a bit.
2. The music – I think this movie’s album was one of the best 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 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 an action hero, and he was known for his complete masala entertainers. He was courageous to take such a role, and the producers were brave enough to cast him.
Why is it on the list?
1. Just because it was a trendsetter. Nobody can count the number of movies inspired by Anbe Vaa. It gave the directors and producers the confidence that romcoms can make money too (Not just money but big money).
2. For the music, screenplay and MGR’s acting. Anyways the producers did compromise something for MGR; they had to add a fight sequence as they didn’t want to make MGR movie without a fight. They were prudent enough because few producers had lost money by not compromising to MGR’s star power.
1. AVM had this excellent team of in-house scriptwriters who can turn any language movie into a Tamil script. As Anbe Vaa was a rehash of Come September, the other films from their production house were mostly based on other language movies. Javert Seetharaman was considered to be an expert in converting scripts to suit the Tamil audience.
2. Anbe Vaa was the first script made by AVM to suit a star actor. They usually choose the actor based on the script. It was Ashokan who made this partnership possible. Anbe Vaa was the only movie of MGR produced by AVM.
3. Although the story takes place in Shimla, 95% of the movie was shot at Ooty. Only the introduction song of MGR was shot in Shimla to authenticate that the film takes place in Shimla.
4. Anbe Vaa was the first complete colour 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 massive fan following he had, and he never used to learn dance in front of the public 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 an LP Record, that was even sold on the black market 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).
8. SA Ashokan was born as Antony and studied in St.Joseph’s college, Trichy. He was introduced by TR Ramanna and changed his name as Ashokan for movies. He debuted in a small role in Avvaiyar and became popular after his role as Collector Ash in Kappalotiya Thamizhan. He played the lead role in a handful of movies like Deiva Thirumagal, Idhu Sathiyam, Kaatu Rani and Vallavanukku Vallavan. But his negative roles fetched him more popularity. He also produced movies like Netru Indru Naalai under the banner Amalraj Movies (named after his first son). His son Vincent Ashokan is playing villain roles in movies and television series.
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