Nadodi Mannan (1958 film)

Nadodi Mannan

Directed by M. G. Ramachandran
Produced by

M. G. Ramachandran

Written by Kannadasan
Screenplay by C. Kuppusamy Naidu
K. Srinivasan
P. Neelakantan
Story by R. M. Veerappan
'Vidwan' Ve. Lakshmanan
S. K. T. Sami
Starring M. G. Ramachandran
P. Bhanumathi
P. S. Veerappa
M. N. Rajam
B. Saroja Devi
M. N. Nambiar
J. P. Chandrababu
M. G. Chakrapani
Music by S. M. Subbaiah Naidu
N. S. Balakrishnan
Cinematography G. K. Somu
Edited by K. Perumal
C. P. Jambulingam
Distributed by Emgeeyaar Pictures Ltd
Release dates
22 August 1958[1]
Running time
220 minutes
Country India
Language Tamil
Budget 18 Lakhs[2]

Nadodi Mannan (English: The Vagabond King) is a 1958 Tamil language adventure film directed, produced by and starring M. G. Ramachandran in dual roles. The film features P. Bhanumathi, B. Saroja Devi as heroines of the film, while P. S. Veerappa and M. N. Nambiar play the villains. The film, had musical score by S. M. Subbaiah Naidu and N. S. Balakrishnan. Upon release, the film was blockbuster and ran for 100 days in major cities. The movie was taken in black and white for 2 hours 8 minutes and 16 seconds. The rest was taken in Geva Color. This film was dubbed in Telugu as Anaganaga Oka Raju in year 1959.


The story is based on Anthony Hope’s 1894 novel The Prisoner of Zenda, Justin Huntly McCarthy’s stage play If I Were King and the English movie Viva Zapata. MGR made his crew consisting of R. M. Veerappan, Vidwan V. Lakshmanan and S. K .T. Sami to watch the three productions. He gave them his suggestions regarding the outline he had in mind and after several brainstorming sessions, the team came up with an imaginative story, tailoring it to make it more Indian.

MGR was keen to act in a double role. Since the advertisement in the papers of the making of Nadodi Mannan, MGR had faced hurdles. At the same time P. Bhanumathi of Bharani Pictures had announced a movie which would be based on The Prisoner of Zenda. MGR and Bhanumathi had discussed trying to convince each other to abandon the project. MGR told Bhanumathi that she could proceed if she had been intending to fully adapt The Prisoner of Zenda as he was only planning to make a movie which was loosely based on it. P. Bhanumathi gave in and MGR was able to proceed in his project.

Commenting on the title Nadodi Mannan, MGR is said to have confessed that if the movie profited, he would be a King (Mannan); if it flopped, he would be a homeless nomad (Nadodi). The movie was some years in the making. All dedicated members of MGR’s entourage were put to work night and day on the project. K. Ramnoth was appointed to direct this movie, but upon his sudden demise on 4 October 1956, MGR had taken up the direction responsibilities. The latter portions depicting the happenings in the island were shot in colour.

In turn, MGR received help from unexpected parties. B. Nagi Reddy had supported by allowing MGR for grand sets in Vijaya Studios, which was then Asia's biggest film studio. Until then only studio owners could make movies with magnificent sets. Likewise, S. S. Vasan of Gemini Studios had lent his expensive equipment voluntarily so that the miniature shots scenes would come out well. It is believed that it was the only time that any equipment of Gemini Studious was ever permitted to be taken out of the premises. Another person to was Senior Director K. Subramanyam who had been requested by MGR to oversee his work. K. Subramanyam attended one shooting schedule and was so impressed with MGR’s diligent approach that felt that there was no need for anyone to supervise MGR. K. Subramanyam in turn had made all arrangements for many of the outdoor shoots, especially at Munnar and he even flew to Bombay to ensure a fresh supply of color film so that the shooting could continue uninterrupted.


Ratnapuri is a small kingdom besieged by manifold troubles. The King’s only daughter Ratna (B. Saroja Devi) is kidnapped and the King dies without naming any successors. Marthandan (MGR), a member of the royal family is chosen by the majority of the imperial council, including the ministers and the commander-in-chief, to be the new ruler. However, the Rajaguru (P. S. Veerappa) has a different idea. Unknown to anyone, he has the princess Ratna in his custody in an island. Ratna has grown up completely unaware of her ancestry. Meanwhile, the Rajaguru plans to do get rid of Marthandan and put up his stooge Pingalan (M. N. Nambiar) as the King. He then plans to marry Ratna himself, get rid of Pingalan, and declare himself the ruler. Meanwhile, Veerabagu (K. R. Ramsingh), the loyal bodyguard of the erstwhile King, and his gang of committed people, including his son Bhoopathi and daughter Madana (P. Bhanumathi) are furious at an outsider ascending the throne. Elsewhere in the kingdom, people are far from happy. Shortage of food and unemployment are rampant all around.

Violent protests erupt all over the kingdom, and the protesters led by the revolutionary Veerangan (MGR), an activist for a democratic government, march to the palace condemning the monarchy and demanding democracy. Veerangan is arrested and imprisoned. Madana is also incarcerated in the same prison on a similar charge. They are pardoned and released on the occasion of the coronation of Marthandan. They travel together from Naganathapuram to Ratnapuri. Sharing the same ideals and revolutionary thoughts, they find themselves falling in love.

In the meantime Marthandan arrives at Ratnapuri, but the Rajaguru asks him to stay in an isolated palace in the outskirts and should not meet his consort Queen Manohari (M. N. Rajam) until the coronation, citing the inauspicious placement of the stars. The twist in the tale comes when we come to know that Marthandan and Veerangan are look-alikes. Veerangan is mistaken for Marthandan in a few tight situations and finally they get to meet each other. Veeran (MGR) on the run from monarchists ends up in the room of his lookalike prince Marthandan. Veerangan speaks of the pathetic state of the poor and the oppressed and the noble Marthandan agrees to set right the ills as soon as he takes charge.

However, on the eve of the coronation, the Rajaguru arranges Marthandan to be poisoned so with help of the royal advisor Karmegam (M. G. Chakrapani) that he could then seat Pingalan on the throne. Marthandan swoons after drinking a few sips of the poisoned beverage. The hastily summoned doctor does the needful and saves Marthandan. However, Marthandan is still unconscious and apparently would remain so for the next few days. An assassination attempt leaves the prince incapacitated, and Veeran has to take his place at the coronation. The commander (E. R. Sahadevan) and minister persuade Veerangan to take Marthandan’s place to ensure that the coronation takes place as scheduled. A reluctant Veerangan agrees to do so in the interests of the state, and arrives in the assembly just in time for the coronation. The Rajaguru is taken aback and sends his men to investigate. The villains find the unconscious Marthandan and take him to their hideout and later to the same island where the Ratna has been living all along.

With Marthandan’s sudden disappearance, Veerangan now finds himself saddled with the role of the King for much more than just the couple of days that he had initially bargained for. The replacement King starts a series of 'people oriented' reforms which cause a political upheaval among the elite. He puts the opportunity to good use, and enacts several measures for the uplift of the poor. He is however troubled by the fact that he is deceiving the Queen Manohari who believes him to be her husband Marthandan. At one stage he is forced to reveal the truth to Manohari and perceiving his noble character, she accepts him as her brother. In the meantime Madana is killed by Pingalan’s men, and a grief-stricken Veerangan vows to avenge her death. Then it comes to light that the original heir to the throne had been kidnapped and the prince has also been kidnapped to an island. Madana’s father gets to know of Marthandan’s whereabouts and passes on the information to Veerangan.

The rescuing of the real heir and the prince forms the rest of the story. Veerangan sails to the island and comes across Ratna. He identifies her by her unique birthmark and rescues her from Pingalan’s clutches. They travel to the cave atop a hill where Marthandan is held captive, and Veerangan succeeds in bringing him out. And at the end of the thrilling climax, replete with snakes, sword fights, flooding waters, collapsing rope-bridge and what not, the Rajaguru meets a watery death. All is well that ends well – Veerangan weds Ratna, and Marthandan issues a proclamation pronouncing Ratnapuri to be a democratic nation.


Actor Role
M. G. Ramachandran King Marthandan & Veerangan
P. Bhanumathi Madhana
P. S. Veerappa Rajaguru
M. N. Rajam Queen Manohari
B. Saroja Devi Rathna
M. N. Nambiar Pingalan
J. P. Chandrababu Sagayam
G. Sakunthala Nandhini
T. P. Muthulakshmi
M. G. Chakrapani Karmegam
E. R. Sahadevan
K. R. Ramsingh Veerabagu
K. S. Angamuthu



The music composed by S. M. Subbaiah Naidu & N. S. Balakrishnan.[3] Lyrics were by Kavi Lakshmanadas, Pattukkottai Kalyanasundaram, Suradha, N. M. Muthukkoothan, M. K. Aatmanathan, Vijaya Narasimha (Kannada lyrics), Narayanababu (Telugu lyrics) & P. Bhaskaran (Malayalam lyrics). Singer are P. Bhanumathi & J. P. Chandrababu. Playback singers are T. M. Soundararajan, Seerkazhi Govindarajan, Jikki, K. Jamuna Rani, N. L. Ganasaraswathi, T. V. Rathinam, Santha P. Nair & P. S. Vaidehi.

No. Song Singers Music Lyrics Length (m:ss)
1 Kannil Vandhu Minnal Pol T. M. Soundararajan & Jikki S. M. Subbaiah Naidu Suradha 04:24
2 Kannodu Kannu Kalandhaachu Jikki Pattukkottai Kalyanasundaram 06:24
3 Thoongadhe Thambi Thoongadhe T. M. Soundararajan 03:12
4 Uzhaippathillaa Uzhaippai Seerkazhi Govindarajan Kavi Lakshmanadas 03:35
5 Thadukkathe Ennai Thadukkathe J. P. Chandrababu & K. Jamuna Rani M. K. Aathmanathan 03:03
6 Maanai Thedi Machan Jikki Pattukkottai Kalyanasundaram 04:38
7 Summa Kedandha T. M. Soundararajan & P. Bhanumathi 03:16
8 Namma Dravidare Kulage (Kannada) Jikki Vijaya Narasimha
9 Kudakkalla Kimpuma (Telugu) Jikki Narayanababu
10 Dravidamaam (Malayalam) Santha P. Nair P. Bhaskaran
11 Varuga Varuga Vendhe (Tamil) N. L. Ganasaraswathi & P. S. Vaidehi Suradha
12 Paadupattaa Thannaale T. V. Rathinam N. S. Balakrishnan M. K. Aathmanathan 03:18
13 Sammadhama P. Bhanumathi N. M. Muthukkoothan 02:29
14 Senthamizhe Vanakkam T. M. Soundararajan 03:06

Release & Reception

The completed movie ran for around 5 hours, and the editors had a tough job ahead of them. MGR had discussed with R. M. Veerappan and Vidwan Lakshmanan and decided which scenes that should be eliminated. Arumugam was the initially appointed editor, but when he left after working for a few days, K. Perumal took over the responsibility. He too left midway. Finally it was Jambu who edited the portions shot in colour. Despite eliminating whole sequences, the final version ran more than 3.5 hours. Music Director N. S. Balakrishnan was appointed to compose music and made three songs. Then S. M. Subbaiah Naidu stepped in and completed the remaining songs and composed the background score as well.

The film opened on 22 August 1958, the film was blockbuster and ran for 250 days in theatres, made highest grossing Tamil film all time, this industrial record was beaten by Enga Veettu Pillai seven years later.[4]

The film was re-released. It was most recently released in 2005 and in 2011 in a fully digitalised form and ran in Tamil Nadu. Silver Jubilee hit and it ran more than 100 days in Tamil Nadu and Ceylon. It is screened all the time in Tamil Nadu. Says Shanthi of Divya Films, who has spent nearly Rs. 3 lakh on poster and publicity designs for the re-release: "MGR is truly a legend; he is the only actor who can enthral the audience so many years after his demise. The nearly 50-year-old `Nadodi Mannan' had a collection of 85 to 90 per cent during its opening weekend and the crowd consisted of mostly youngsters and some MGR fans.[5]


  2. "Nadodi Mannan Golden Jubilee". mgrblog. Retrieved 2014-09-24.
  3. "Nadodi Mannan Songs". raaga. Retrieved 2014-09-24.
  4. "Nadodi Mannan Records". mgrblog. Retrieved 2014-09-24.
  5. "Nadodi Mannan Re-Release". the hindu. Retrieved 2014-09-24.

Nadodi Mannan at the Internet Movie Database

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