indian cinema heritage foundation

Aryamala (1941)

  • Release Date19/10/1941
  • GenreHistorical Fiction
  • FormatB-W
  • LanguageTamil
  • Run Time226 min
  • Length5706 meters
  • Censor RatingU

Goddess Parvathi (M.R. Santhanalakshmi), cursed by Lord Shiva (B. Rajagopala  Iyer), lands on earth and creates a beautiful flower garden. To protect the garden, Lord Shiva creates Kathavarayan (his third son) and offers him to  Parvathi. Kathavarayan (P.U. Chinnappa) is brought up by hunters and protected by Parvathi. Seeing a celestial girl Ilankanni (M.S. Sarojini) bathing in a river, he takes away her clothes and tries to make love to her. Ilankanni tries to reason with him, but when he asks her to accept his love, she drowns herself and dies.  Lord Shiva, coming to know this, curses his son to die by impalement due to the same girl whom he tried to seduce, after going through several births. Ilankanni is reborn and adopted by a king. She is named Aryamala (M.S. Sarojini again).  Kathavarayan is reborn and Lord Ganesha hands him over to Goddess  Parvathi (who is on the earth due to Lord Shiva’s curse), who brings him up.

 Kathavarayan grows and falls in love with Aryamala and tries several tricks to win over her heart. He goes in the form of a parrot to meet her in the palace and she also falls in love with him. When the king decides to get her married to the  Army Commander Balarayan (T.S. Balaiah), Aryamala pleads to Kathavarayan to save her from the marriage. Changing shape again as a bangle merchant, he reaches the palace, makes everyone unconscious, and ties a “thaali” (mangalsutra)  around her neck while she is also unconscious and vanishes.  Aryamala does not know who tied this “thaali” round her neck, goes into shock, and tries to kill herself again. Lord Krishna saves and turns her into a stone,  which comes to life when Kathavarayan touches it. Kathavarayan is arrested by  Balarayan’s army and the king orders him to be impaled. While the punishment is being executed, he prays to his mother Parvathi,  who prays to Lord Shiva and Krishna and they save him. Kathavarayan and Aryamala marry and live happily. 

P.U. Chinnappa, who appeared in nine disguises in the film, emerged as a star to reckon with after it became a big box office hit.

The film had several popular songs sung by P.U. Chinnappa. Of the 17 songs in the film, the most  memorable were ‘Sivakirubayal puvi mel matha  unnai therindhulame magizhnthen…’, ‘Valaiyal  nalla valaiyal…’, ‘Aanandha Roobiniye Aryamala…’,  ‘Srimadhiye unai naan…’ and ‘Aaravalli Neeyum…’  

[from the book Pride of Tamil Cinema: 1931 to 2013, G Dhananjayan. Blue Ocean Publishers. 2014]