Ratha Kanneer (1954)

There is always an argument which goes on in the Tamil movie world on Who is the best actor … And always they end up with one name called Sivaji Ganesan. But according to me, there is one more person who can be spoken of at the same calibre as Sivaji. His name is M.R.Radha and versatility is his middle name.

Although there are wonderful movies behind his name, the one classic masterpiece which will feature in any Tamil Movie list would be Ratha Kanneer.

Most of the yesteryear actors came from theatre and with strong influences of political ideologies. MR Radha was no exception and he had a strong background of Dravidian political ideology. He was already a super star in theatre before he came on to movies.

Ratha Kanneer was a play written by Thiruvarur Thangarasu and already a famous play among the masses before it made in to the tinsel world. The most surprising aspect of the play and the movie was the radical thoughts purported by the writer at a more conservative time period.

It’s about the story of the rich man who makes merry with women defies his family, good friends and ends up as a leprosy patient. Leprosy was considered to be a deadly disease at that time and the movie also depicts the social stigma associated with such patients.

What so special?

The first half has all the strong Dravidian political ideologies of MR Radha and the writer criticising religion, casteism, false beliefs, rituals etc. The dialogues and the way MR Radha enacts the role with élan is a treat to watch.

The contrasting second half shows the plight of the leprosy patient and the social apprehensions surrounding it. Who can forget “Kuttram Purinthavan”. The movie had a apt cast with M.N.Rajam as Gantha, a memorable wily mistress character and she never recovered from that image after that movie. She had innumerable stereotypical roles after that movie. SS Rajendran as the friend and Sri Ranjani as the wife.

The music for the songs was composed by Chidambaram Jayaraman and the back ground score by Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy (lesser known that point of time). And the movie was directed by the most sucessful director duo of Krishnan- Panju.

Why it makes to the list ?

Simply because of the path breaking theme of the movie for it’s times and the wonderful versatile acting of MR Radha – an actor under rated because of his personal life and one big mistake of shooting MGR. It has become a inspiration for many movie makers and you could find many movies reusing the subject even today. A brilliant movie to watch…

Trivia

1. The legacy of Rattha Kaneer is continued till now with MR Radha’s off springs continuing it with occasional theatre performances along with small modifications. Currently the role is portrayed by Radha Ravi.

2. Upendra, the maverick Kannada Director-Actor tried to recreate the magic with Ramya Krishnan as Gantha but could not live up to the expectations although it made good financial success.

3. Incidentally, MR Radha went back to theatre after this movie because of his love towards it but came back to do some memorable roles later.

4. The full name of MR Radha is Mohan Rajagopala Naidu Radhakrishnan and he is nicknamed as Nadigavel

Wonderful Trivia update from Raji Muthukrishnan

After a hiatus from the screen after Ratha Kaneer (I read somewhere he was disgusted with the film world for some reason), M. R. Radha came back with a bang in Baga Pirivinai, which had Sivaji in it. After that he was on a roll with his original unique dialogue delivery

Trivia: it was M. R. Radha who gave Karunanidhi the title of Kalaignar when he acted in one of his plays.

P.S 1: I decided that the 3rd movie should be Ratha Kanneer and I could not get good information from the internet ( like the music director). I went on to a pursuit of DVDs and I found it in Landmark last weekend. A nice add on to my DVD collection ( Thanks to this article). The DVD is released by Raj Video Vision.

P.S 2: Update in 2015 – Finally, we have a YouTube version of the movie

YouTube link for the movie

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Ratha Kanneer
Ratha Kanneer is a masterpiece from MR Radha that showcased the talent of the man - it's one of the 50 best tamil movies to watch before you die.

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Sylvian

Posted by Sylvian

Marketing Analyst by profession, a quizzer by passion, a blogger by choice, a poet by chance, a non-conformist by gene and a rebel by birth

9 Comments

  1. Nice one.

    After a hiatus from the screen after Ratha Kaneer (I read somewhere he was disgusted with the film world for some reason), M. R. Radha came back with a bang in Baga Pirivinai, which had Sivaji in it. After that he was on a roll with his original unique dialogue delivery

    Trivia: it was M. R. Radha who gave Karunanidhi the title of Kalaignar when he acted in one of his plays.

    Reply

    1. Wow, thats a wonderful Trivia Raji and Thanks for pointing out my mistake, it\\'s a absolute dyslexic mistake from me….I would like to quote your comment as update in the post.

      Reply

  2. Ooh,you forgot the most important trivia..He shot M.G.R!

    Reply

    1. Hey Ravi, Thanks for the comment. I said it in the main article itself. It\\'s one of the reasons why he is under rated and not loved by people…Sad

      Reply

    2. vkarthikn May 11 at 5:23 am

      Hi can anyone tell me why MRR shot MGR

      Reply

  3. […] is that the lead actors have become more famous than the director duo in those movies. If it was MR Radha in Rattha Kaneer, Parasakthi announced the arrival of greatest Tamil actor of all times, Sivaji Ganesan ( the third […]

    Reply

  4. Balaji raman May 17 at 7:22 pm

    hey one more trivia:
    Nobody were ready to play the role of Kantha intially and later MR Radha brought in MN Raajam (small girl at that time) from theater background and gave her a break.
    Another interesting thing is that there is a scene in the movie were Kantha kicks MR Radha by leg but intially MN Raajam refused to do the scene and later MR Radha forced MN Rajam to do it as she was not comfortable kicking her guru.

    Reply

  5. Radha was not a great actor but rather an entertaining one. He played the same guy every movie and his voice modulation was terrible. Entertaining none the less but not in the league of Sivaji or Kamal Hassan

    Reply

    1. zsivaz, you are pathetic fan supporting overdose Sivaji and Kamal Histronics.

      Reply

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