M. K. Radha, M. S. Gnanambal, M. G. Ramachandran, N. S. Krishnan, T. S. Balaiah
Directed by :
Ellis R. Dungan
A.N. Marudachalam Chettiyar
Sathi Leelavathi Movie Info
is a 1936 Indian Tamil-language drama film directed and co-edited by Ellis R. Dungan, written by Madras Kandaswamy Mudaliar and produced by A. N. Marudachalam Chettiar. It is based on S. S. Vasan’s novel of the same name, which was serialised in the magazine Ananda Vikatan. The film features an ensemble cast including M. K. Radha, T. S. Balaiah, M. G. Ramachandran, M. V. Mani, M. K. Mani, P. Nammalvar, T. N. Lakshmana Rao, M. R. Gnanambal, Santhakumari, M. S. Murugesan and N. S. Krishnan. In Sathi Leelavathi, a wealthy Madras-based man (Radha) is lured into drinking by his friend (Balaiah), and brings misery to himself. After thinking he murdered his other friend (Nammalvar) in a drunken stupor, the man flees to Ceylon to live as a nameless labourer, while his wife (Gnanambal) and daughter (M. K. Mani) are reduced to poverty.
Chettiar initially wanted to produce a film adaptation of the Madurai Original Boy’s Company (MOBC) theatre troupe’s play Pathi Bhakthi, but MOBC had already decided to do so without his involvement. Chettiar later approached Mudaliar, who wrote the MOBC play. Mudaliar told him about Vasan’s serial novel Sathi Leelavathi, which had the same storyline. Both men approached Vasan, who gave them the rights to make a film adaptation of his novel. Subsequently, Mudaliar began writing the screenplay for the film adaptation, also titled Sathi Leelavathi. It was the directorial debut of Dungan, and the cinematic debut of Radha, Balaiah, Ramachandran and K. A. Thangavelu as actors; all except Thangavelu were theatre actors associated with MOBC. Sathi Leelavathi was the first film Krishnan worked on, although it ended up becoming his second release. Shooting took place primarily in Madras at Vel Pictures Studio.
Sathi Leelavathi was one of the earliest Tamil films to become the subject of a court case involving copyright violations; MOBC accused the makers of plagiarising Pathi Bhakthi, the film based on their play. The case was resolved when Vasan revealed in court that both Pathi Bhakthi and Sathi Leelavathi were plagiarised from Ellen Wood’s 1860 novel Danesbury House, therefore neither party could claim originality. Subsequently, Sathi Leelavathi was released on 28 March 1936. The film became a commercial success and resulted in Dungan receiving more directorial offers. Several features he introduced to Tamil cinema in this film also became a staple for future Tamil films. No complete print of the film is known to survive, making it a partially lost film, but its remaining scenes are preserved at the West Virginia State Archives.
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