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Gateway to Heaven 1954 211’ b&w Tamil d A. Kasilingam p Parimala Films s C.N. Annadurai m C.R. Subburaman lp S.S. Rajendran, K.R. Ramaswamy, P.S. Veerappa, R. Balasubramanyam, Padmini, Anjali Devi

Costume drama about a poor but revered revolutionary poet, Madivannan (Ramaswamy), who has a sister, Thilagavathy (Anjali), who loves his wealthy friend Muthu Manikam (Rajendran). However, Muthu’s father demands the girl’s weight in gold as a dowry. Madivannan then takes his family to Vezha Nadu where he becomes a court poet and is sent to perform at a festival in Cholai Nadu. Having been charged to ask the local queen Kumara Devi (Padmini) to marry King Vetrivelan of Vezha Nadu (Veerappa), the poet falls in love with her himself. Obviously, Vetrivelan is annoyed and seeks revenge on the poet. When the court priest (Balasubramanyam) decides to build a massive temple at the people’s expense, he asks Madivannan to sing at fundraising events, but the poet refuses to become part of such a confidence trick. This causes him to be accused of atheism and he is officially repudiated after an extended trial sequence, the highlight of which is the poet’s lengthy monologue arguing the DMK’s position that a revolutionary is not to be mistaken for an atheist. Vetrivelan then takes the opportunity to jail the poet’s mother and to rape and jail his sister, which makes her go insane. In exile, Madivannan sings his revolutionary songs to incite the people to rise against Vetrivelan, who eventually sees the error of his ways and proclaims the state to be a democracy. Kumaradevi follows suit, renouncing her throne to marry the poet.