Director: P. Neelakantan; Writer: P. Neelakantan, Raja Nene; Cinematographer: V. Ramamurthy; Cast: Sivaji Ganesan, B.R. Panthulu, M.V. Rajamma, M. Madhava Rao, Revathi, H.R. Sastry, Master Hiranayya
Summary: Kannada hit and debut production of Panthulu’s Padmini Pics. A stoic reply to Capra’s sentimental optimism, showing that a petty-bourgeois life is far from wonderful. Shivram (Panthulu)/Sivagnanam (Ganesan) is a lowly teller in a bank that goes bust and, unable to find work, he commits suicide so that his wife and children may get the insurance money. In heaven, at the court of Yama, the lord of death, he is punished for his irresponsibility: he is sent back as a disembodied spirit to witness what happens to the family. His son is imprisoned for stealing food, his daughter is molested and his wife, having murdered the molester, drowns herself in a well. Sivagnanam then wakes up screaming, realises it was all a dream and vows to face life’s difficulties with courage. The film’s style is conventional with elementary studio sets and painted backdrops, often using irises for shot transitions. The novel introduction of mythological elements into the realist tale is handled with much more aplomb in the South Indian version than in the original Hindi (Pehli Tareekh, 1954) which was mostly a Nirupa Roy melodrama. Here Brahma, lord of creation, becomes the mouthpiece to state the conditions of an unjust world. In the Tamil version the legendary comedy duo Krishnan (playing a carefree government clerk) and Mathuram assume the kattiyankaran role of traditional drama, providing comedy relief while offering social comment. Carnatic musician Dandapani Desigar sang two songs in the Tamil. One especially, Onnil iruthu irupathu varaikum, was especially successful. Ganesan, the lead in the Tamil version appears in a minor role in the Kannada version.
Based on Raja Nene's Pehli Tareekh (1954)