Sathi Leelavathi is a story depicting the Indian woman’s noblest virtue: Chastity. Krishnamurthy (M.K. Radha), a rich man living with his wife Leelavathi (M.R. Gnanambal) and a daughter in Madras, is lured into drinking, gambling and other vices by his friend Ramanathan (T.S. Balaiah) at a mock tea party arranged for this purpose; Ramanathan’s collaborator is Rangaiah Naidu (M.G. Ramachandran), an Inspector of Police who misuses the power entrusted to him. Krishnamurthy is lured by the wiles of Mohanangi (Santhakumari), a woman with loose morals. Infatuated by her, he promises to pay her Rs. 50,000/-. Parasuram (P. Nammalvar), a good friend of Krishnamurthy, tries to reform him but his efforts yield no results. A moneylender who had lent a huge sum to Krishnamurthy to meet his lavish lifestyle, issues a warrant for the recovery of his money and Krishnamurthy sinks into a deeper mess. In his drunken state, he finds fault with his wife and even accuses her of having an illicit relationship with Parasuram. When Parasuram visits Krishnamurthy to warn him about the warrant, Leelavathi advises him to leave as Krishnamurthy is not at home. Absentmindedly, Parasuram leaves his umbrella behind. Krishnamurthy comes home drunk, notices the umbrella, suspects that his wife is having an affair with Parasuram, beats her and rushes out with a revolver to shoot Parasuram. Meanwhile, Ramanathan sends his servant in the guise of Parasuram to steal the jewels of Ekambareshwarar temple.
Krishnamurthy comes pursuing Parasuram; a shot is heard and a man lies dead. This sudden and unexpected calamity brings the drunken Krishnamurthy to his senses. Krishnamurthy thinks he has murdered his friend Parasuram, decides to escape and leaves his wife and child in the custody of his faithful servant Govindan. He goes to Ceylon where he leads a wretched life as a nameless labourer in a tea estate. Ramanathan now takes this opportunity to try to molest Leelavathi who spurns his illicit advances. Penniless, she goes with her servant and daughter and leads a poor but honourable life spinning the charkha (spinning wheel). Fate favours
Krishnamurthy. During his labour work, he finds a treasure trove and gives it to his master, his master is pleased with his honesty and adopts him as his own son. Years pass; the love for his family draws Krishnamurthy back to Madras, where the police arrest him for Parasuram’s murder and take him to court. Detective Sreenivasan’s (M.V. Mani) investigation reveals the malicious wiles of Ramanathan and Rangaiah Naidu; he supports this with evidence by producing the real Parasuram in court as an old man, who discloses his true self, thus proving Krishnamurthy’s innocence. Krishnamurthy, acquitted by the court, unites with his family. Ramanathan is sentenced to death; Inspector Rangaiah is convicted with 7 years’ rigorous imprisonment. Krishnamurthy’s daughter Lakshmi marries Chandrakanthan, son of Parasuram.
Sathi Leelavathi was a box office success not only in India, but also in Ceylon, Malaysia and other countries where Tamilians lived and worked in plantations, thus creating new markets for Tamil Cinema.
The film introduced several top notch talents to Tamil Cinema: M.K. Radha, MGR, T.S. Balaiah, K.A. Thangavelu, S.S. Vasan (who debuted as script writer for a feature film and later became a film maker and producer) and Ellis R. Dungan (director).
It was also the first film to have fewer songs.
M.K. Radha M.R. Gnanambal M.G. Ramachandran T.S. Balaiah P. Nammalvar M.V. Mani N.S. Krishnan Santhakumari J. Susheela Devi K.A. Thangavelu
TeChniCians/Crew Story: S.S. Vasan Screenplay and Dialogues: M. Kandaswamy Mudaliyar Music and Lyrics: T.K. Sundaram Vadhiyar Studio: Vel Pictures (Madras) Director: Ellis R. Dungan Producer: A.N. Maruthachalam Chettiar
FiLm detaiLs Genre: Social Release date: 28-03-1936 Film: Black and White Length: 5,486 metres Box office: Super Hit Rating: U Source: Film Write up
PRIDE OF TAMIL CINEMA: 1931 to 2013: Tamil Films that have earned National and International recognition (p. 10). BLUE OCEAN PUBLISHERS. Kindle Edition.