|Directed by||K. Ramnoth|
|Produced by||M. Somasundaram|
|Written by||A. S. A. Sami|
M. G. Ramachandran|
M. N. Nambiar
S. A. Natarajan
C. R. Subburaman|
S. M. Subbaiah Naidu
W. R. Subbarao
|Edited by||M. A. Thirumugam|
|Distributed by||Jupiter Pictures|
|2 February 1951|
|175 min. (15,760 feet)|
Marmayogi (English: The Mysterious Sage) is a 1951 Indian Tamil-language fantasy film directed by K. Ramnoth and produced by M. Somasundaram under his banner Jupiter Studios. A film adaptation of the novel Vengeance by Marie Corelli and William Shakespeare's play Macbeth, the film was shot simultaneously in Hindi as Ek Tha Raja. The film features Serukalathur Sama played the titular role(Marmayogi or Mysterious Sage) M. G. Ramachandran, Madhuri Devi and Anjali Devi in the lead roles with Pandari Bai, M. N. Nambiar and S. V. Sahasranamam playing supporting roles.
Development of the film began after the success of Rajakumari (1947), Ramachandran approached writer A. S. A. Sami to write a script which revolves around him. Samy wrote a script inspired from Vengeance by Marie Corelli, Shakespeare's theatrical play Macbeth, and Robin Hood. S. M. Subbaiah Naidu and C. R. Subbaraman composed all the songs in the soundtrack album. Masthan and Subbarao handled the film's cinematography. The film was edited by M. A. Thirumugam.
The film was released on 2 February 1951 with reel length of 4,804 metres (15,761 ft). The film became commercial success at box office and established Ramachandran's image as a star. It was the first Tamil film to receive an "A" (Adults Only) certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification.
A King's (Serukalathur Sama) mistress (Anjali Devi) usurps his power and casts him adrift in a river. The two princes of the kingdom (S. V. Sahasranamam and M. G. Ramachandran) are denied their birthright. The deposed king wanders the country in the guise of a sage. The younger prince (M. G. Ramachandran) leads a popular rebellion against the usurper-queen and restores the kingdom to his father.
Urvasi(Anjali Devi), is the young mistress of a king (Serukalathur Sama). With the help of her own lover (S. A. Natarajan), she pushes the king off a boat and usurps his powers. Urvasi appoints herself as the new queen regnant, and the kingdom experiences a reign of terror. The palace where the two princes of the kingdom live is burnt. The queen assumes all powers and kills all potential opponents, including her lover. A sage comes to the kingdom with his son and a girl, and joins the queen as her adviser. Years roll by. The sage's son Veerangan(S. V. Sahasranamam) is appointed Army Commander. At the same time, in the countryside, Karikalan(M. G. Ramachandran) functions as de facto leader of the people, helps them in various ways and fights the queen's misrule. When he becomes a big threat to the queen, she orders his capture. Veerangan sends Kala (Madhuri Devi), the girl raised by the sage as a spy, to Karikalan, but she falls in love with him.
Karikalan gets periodic instructions from the Goddess on what needs to be done and he follows the same. The queen gets scared by a ghost which appears regularly and warns her of the impending punishment she deserves for her misdeeds. Kala and Karikalan's followers are captured by the army. Karikalan personally leads their rescue mission. In prison, he gets instructions from the goddess to capture the queen also. He rescues his people, captures the queen and brings her to his hideout. When the ghost appears there, she confesses her crime of killing the king. When she is about to be executed, Veerangan's army enters and captures everyone. Veerangan also finds out that the sage(also called Marmayogi) is his father, and he has been giving information to Karikalan secretly. Hence he also gets arrested for being a traitor.
The queen returns to her throne and orders the execution of the sage, Karikalan and others. When Karikalan is about to be killed, the sage reveals the truth about the king and informs Veerangan that Karikalan is his elder brother. When Veerangan demands to know where the king is, the sage removes his disguise. To the surprise of everyone, he reveals that he is the deposed king and narrates what happened. Though the queen and her lover attempted to kill him, he escaped under the water using his yogic skills, taking his sons and the army commander's daughter Kala with him. He returned to his kingdom in the disguise of a sage with his younger son Veeranganan and Kala and left Karikalan in the forest. Shocked to see the dead king return, the queen dies. The king announce that his children Karikalan and Veerangan are now the rulers.
- Serukalathur Sama as The King or Mysterious Sage(also called Marmayogi)
- M. G. Ramachandran as Karikalan, A Second Son of the King and The elder brother of Veerangan and de facto leader of the People.
- S. V. Sahasranamam as Veerangan, Royal Army Commander, he is the younger son of the king
- S. A. Natarajan as Urvasi's Lover
- M. N. Nambiar
- Anjali Devi as Queen Urvasi, She is young mistress of the King and misrules of the kingdom
- Javar Seetharaman as Ex - Army Commander/Kala's Father
- S. V. Sahasranamam as Prince Veeranganan, First son of The King
- Madhuri Devi as Kala
- Pandari Bai
- M. S. S. Bhagyam
After the success of Rajakumari (1947), Ramachandran approached writer A. S. A. Sami to write a script which would revolve around him. Samy wrote a script inspired from Vengeance by Marie Corelli, Shakespeare's theatrical play Macbeth and Robin Hood. Makers initially considered naming the film as Karikalan but later changed it as Marmayogi to avoid it being confused as a historical film. P. Bhanumathi was originally signed for the role of Urvasi later she was replaced by Anjali Devi. Serukulathur Sama, Sahasranamam and S. A. Natarajan were selected to portray supporting roles. M. N. Nambiar portrayed a positive character of Ramachandran's assistant. Masthan and Subbarao handled the film's cinematography. The film was edited by M. A. Thirumugam.
Ramachandran's sword fight sequence with Sahasranamam was shot in outdoors with Ramachandran practised himself for the scene within 3 to 4 days and refused to use body double. Director Ramnath changed the climax from the original screenplay. After the film was completed, many felt that ending was not convincing and Ramnath reshot the climax which was accepted by audience.
Themes and influences
The film's plot was inspired from Vengeance by Marie Corelli and Shakespeare's play Macbeth. The film drew inspiration from Russian film Ivan The Terrible (1944) and the scene where Karikalan enters the courtroom was inspired from the film Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). The scene where Ramachandran fight with sword with Sahasranamam by riding a horse is inspired from The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses.
The music was composed by S. M. Subbaiah Naidu and C. R. Subburaman. According to page 88 of G. Dhananjayan's 2014 book Pride of Tamil Cinema, only two songs were written for the film: "Kazhuthailiye Irandu Vitham" and "Thillalangadi Thillalangadi". Page 89 of the same book contradicts this, stating that the film had at least five songs, including "Azhagana Penn Maanai Paar", "Desam Pora Pokka Partha, Pesa Kooda Nalla Illae", "Inbam Iravil Amaidhiyile", "Kannin Karumaniye Kalavathi" and "Vetri Sangai Oothuvom".
The film's inaugural show was held at Prabhat Theatre which was commenced by Jayaprakash Narayanan. The film was released on 2 February 1951 with reel length of 4,804 metres (15,761 ft). The film was certified "A" because it featured a ghost. Jupiter Pictures remade the film in Telugu with same name starring N. T. Rama Rao. The film was also made in Hindi as Ek Tha Raja in 1951 with M. G. Ramachandran played the lead role at the same time
The film's commercial success established Ramachandran's image as a star. It was the first Tamil film to receive an "A" (Adults Only) certificate from the censor board. The dialogue "Karikalan kuri vaithaal thavara maatten! Thavarumey aanaal kuri vaikka maatten" (English: If I aim, it will not fail; if it will fail, I will not aim) became popular and paved way for the trend of inclusion of punch dialogues in Tamil films.
- Rajadhyaksha, Ashish; Willemen, Paul (1994). Encyclopaedia of Indian cinema. British Film Institute. p. 302. ISBN 0-85170-455-7, ISBN 978-0-85170-455-5.
- Film News Anandan (2004). Sadhanaigal padaitha Tamil Thiraipada Varalaaru (in Tamil). Chennai: Sivagami Publications. pp. 28:57.
- Pandian, M. S. S (1992). The image trap: M.G. Ramachandran in film and politics. Sage. p. 45. ISBN 0803994036, ISBN 978-0-8039-9403-4.
- Baskaran, S. Theodore (1996). The eye of the serpent: an introduction to Tamil cinema. Chennai: East West Books. p. 180.
- Dhananjayan, G. (2014). Pride of Tamil Cinema: 1931 to 2013. Blue Ocean Publishers. ISBN 978-93-84301-05-7.