Director: K. Ramanath; Writer: Sadananda Bharathi, Jawar Seetaraman, Victor Hugo; Cinematographer: N. Prakash; Cast: Chittor V. Nagaiah, T.S. Balaiah, T.S. Dorairaj, N. Shama, N. Seetaraman, V. Gopalakrishna, Kali N. Ratnam, M.R. Swaminathan, S. Peer Mohammad, T.K. Kalyanam, Lalita, Padmini, N. Rajam, P.S. Gnanam, S.R. Janaki, Baby Meenakshi, Ragini, Thangam, Kalyani, Reeta
Summary: Based on Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.
Extraordinary melodrama held together by Nagaiah’s best-known film performance. This version of Sadanand Bharathi’s Tamil translation of Hugo’s novel (remade, unacknowledged, as Gnana Oli, 1972), opens with the petty thief Kandan (Nagaiah) in jail. He escapes and is rearrested by Inspector Javert (Seetaraman). Kandan’s niece (N. Rajam) is abandoned by her husband (Balaiah) while pregnant, and joins a travelling circus after leaving her child with her wicked foster parents. When released, Kandan is reformed by the kind action of a Christian priest, Sadhu Uthaman, becomes a successful glass manufacturer and, after changing his name, is elected the town’s mayor. Kandan’s past catches up with him when Inspector Javert is posted to the town and intends exposing him. During an Independence struggle incident, Kandan rescues Javert and the inspector commits suicide, caught in the dilemma of having to work for an imperialist police force but being indebted to a former criminal. The film is dominated by Nagaiah, inviting comparisons with Paul Muni, and by the stage actor and co-scenarist Seetaraman, who became known as Javert (aka Jawar) Seetaraman for the rest of his career. Much of it is shot with heavy expressionist lighting, esp. the jail sequences as the inspector’s presence is announced by the sound of stomping boots. The visual effect was extended by Elangovan’s dialogue.