Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||K. Balachander|
|Produced by||A. V. Meiyappan|
|Written by||K. Balachander|
|Music by||V. Kumar|
|Cinematography||S. Maruti Rao|
|Edited by||R. G. Gopu|
Major Chandrakanth is a 1966 Tamil-language drama film produced by A. V. Meiyappan and directed by K. Balachander. It is based on his play of the same name. The film stars Major Sundarrajan, Nagesh, R. Muthuraman, A. V. M. Rajan and Jayalalithaa. It tells the story of a retired and blind major who gives asylum to a fugitive wanted for committing murder, unaware that the victim was his younger son.
The film was released on 11 November 1966, during Diwali. It became a commercial success, and Sundarrajan, who portrayed the title role of a retired blind army major, acquired the prefix Major and was more commonly known as Major Sundarrajan thereafter.
Mohan is a tailor who lives with his younger sister Vimala. Orphaned at an early age, Mohan goes through a life of hardship and fulfills all his sister's wishes. Rajinikanth, a womaniser, lures Vimala and cheats on her. Unable to face her brother, she commits suicide. Mohan confronts Rajinikanth and kills him in revenge. Now a fugitive, Mohan hides in the house of Chandrakanth, a retired and blind major. Mohan is amused and fascinated by Chandrakanth's virtues and how he manages to live though he is blind. Mohan reveals why he is on the run from law and ironically, the deceased happens to be Chandrakanth's youngest son. Chandrakanth feels humiliated for nurturing Rajinikanth and is sorry for Mohan's plight. Ultimately, Chandrakanth's elder son Srikanth, an inspector, arrests Mohan along with his own father for showing hospitality to a criminal.
- Major Sundarrajan as Chandrakanth
- Nagesh as Mohan
- R. Muthuraman as Srikanth
- A. V. M. Rajan as Rajinikanth
- Jayalalithaa as Vimala
When working in the Accountant General's office in Madras (now Chennai), K. Balachander wrote and starred as a blind major in a play titled Courage of Conviction. Since the new Accountant General was a Bengali, Balachander decided the play had to be in English so that the General would understand it. This was unlike his other plays, which were written in Tamil. He later decided to expand the play into a full-length script for his friend P. R. Govindarajan's troupe Ragini Recreations, this time in Tamil and with the title Major Chandrakanth due to the limited scope for English plays in Madras. This play earned critical acclaim, and was staged over a hundred times. It was later adapted into a Hindi film Oonche Log in 1965, directed by Phani Majumdar and produced by the Madras-based Chitrakala Films.
A. V. Meiyappan decided to produce the play in Tamil under his banner AVM Productions with the same title, and Balachander was chosen as director. Sundarrajan, who portrayed the blind major Chandrakanth in the Tamil play, reprised his role in this film. The character's sons Srikanth and Rajinikanth were played by R. Muthuraman and A. V. M. Rajan, respectively. Jayalalithaa was cast as Vimala, unlike the play where the same character was only referenced without being physically portrayed. The film was the only collaboration between her and Balachander. Nagesh was cast as Vimala's brother Mohan. The role was a departure from the comedic roles he was then generally known for. Cinematography was handled by S. Maruti Rao, the art direction by A. K. Sekhar, and the editing by R. G. Gopu. Meiyappan's sons Murugan, Kumaran and Saravanan were assistant producers. The final length measured 4,425 metres (14,518 ft).
The music was composed by V. Kumar, while the lyrics were written by Vaali and Suratha. The song "Kalyana Sapadu Podava" is set in the carnatic raga known as Sindhu Bhairavi. The song "Oru Naal Yaaro", picturised on Mohan going to prove to the audience in his neighbourhood that his Vimala is singing on the radio, became a chartbuster.
|1||"Kalyana Sapadu Podava"||T. M. Soundararajan||Vaali||04:12|
|2||"Kalyana Sapadu Podava" (Pathos)||T. M. Soundararajan||01:35|
|3||"Naane Pani Nilavu"||P. Susheela||04:06|
|4||"Netrunee Chinnapappa"||T. M. Soundararajan, P. Susheela||04:01|
|5||"Oru Naal Yaaro"||P. Susheela||03:35|
Release and reception
Major Chandrakanth was released on 11 November 1966, during Diwali. In a review dated 26 November 1966, The Indian Express said Sundarrajan brought not only "complete conviction and dignity" to his role but also "revels his rare characterisational depth and sensitivity." The reviewer also praised the performances of Nagesh, Jayalalithaa, Muthuraman and Rajan, the photography and the editing. Writing for The Hindu that December, Venkatesh Ganapathy praised the performances of Jayalalithaa and Nagesh, noting that despite the former's limited screen time, "her acting prowess in [Major Chandrakanth] continues to be a moment of truth."
Following the film's commercial success, Sundarrajan became popularly known with the prefix "Major". During the making of Apoorva Raagangal (1975), Balachander rechristened newcomer Shivaji Rao Gaekwad as Rajinikanth, named after A. V. M. Rajan's character, and Rajinikanth went on to become the most successful star of Tamil cinema.
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