wiki:Andaman Kaithi

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Andaman Kaithi

aka The Prisoner of the Andamans 1952 190’ b&w Tamil d V. Krishnan pc Radhakrishna Films s Ku. Sa. Krishnamurthy from his play lp K. Sarangapani, T.S. Balaiah, M.G. Ramachandran, Thikkurisi Sukumaran Nair, P.K. Saraswathi, Santhanalakshmi, M.S. Draupadi, T.V. Sivadhanu

A story about Independence and Partition (shown via newsreel footage) adapted from Krishnamurthy’s reformist play as staged by the popular 40s company, TKS Brothers. The young trade union activist Nataraj (an early MGR role) tells, in flashback, his cellmate how his villainous uncle, Ponnambalam (Sarangapani), a collaborator with the British, swindled Nataraj’s mother, killed his father and married his sister, Leela (Saraswathi). The family having escaped by train from Karachi to Madras, the villain has Nataraj imprisoned but the hero manages to kill him, earning a further prison term. Set at the time when the labour movement was gaining ground (scenes of food shortage, unemployment, strike calls), the play’s reformism was skewed towards a nationalist politics and sexual conservativism, in the name of naturalism: the hero marries a rape victim (Draupadi) but the child conveniently dies; his sister Leela is a widow but also a virgin, a difficult condition achieved by feigning madness during marriage. The song Anju ruba notai (A Five Rupee Note) was a hit and the poet Subramanya Bharati’s Kani nilam vendum (I Want a Piece of Land) featured as part of a love duet. A long dance sequence interrupts the narrative momentum. Some accounts suggest K. Subramanyam supervised the making of the film.