Sathyan and Rajasree in a scene from the film Bharya. Photo: Special Arrangement
Sathyan, Kottayam Chellappan, S. P. Pillai, Ragini, Rajasree, Adoor Pankajam etc
Like the ‘love triangle,' another favourite subject for films is that of the ‘other woman' The Telugu film ‘Swargaseema' (1945) was probably the first popular Indian film that focussed on this rather controversial subject. Tamil films like ‘Rakthakkanneer,' ‘Illara Jyothi,' (1954) ‘Town Bus' (1955) etc. are examples of successful films with this theme. The ageless subject even finds its place in ancient Tamil epics like ‘Chilappathikaram' based on which Tamil films ‘Kannagi' (1942), ‘Poompuhar' (1964) etc were made.
In Malayalam, ‘Bharya,' (1962) produced and directed by Kunchacko under the banner of Udaya Studios is considered the best and most popular film that discusses this subject. The film was adapted from the novel of the same title by E. J. Philip, popularly known as Kaanam E J. The novel is said to be based on a real incident, the Thiruvalla Ammalu murder case. Some of the early Malayalam films like ‘Ponkathir' (1954), ‘Ashadeepam' (1954), and ‘Mariyakutty' (1958) also used this same theme. Released as a Christmas gift, on December 20, 1962, the film broke many a box office record.
The dialogues written by Ponkunnam Varkey became a favourite and for the first time in Malayalam cinema dialogues of important scenes were released in a set of four 78 rpm records.
Popular artistes like Sathyan, Kottayam Chellappan, S. P. Pillai, Ragini, Adoor Pankajam starred in the film. Rajasree made her Malayalam debut in this film. Her name in the title cards was listed as Gracy, the name of the character in the film. Her role as the ‘other woman' became so popular that in some of her later films also her name in the title cards was shown as Gracy.
Benny (Sathyan) runs a parallel college. He leads a peaceful and happy family life with his wife Leela (Ragini), and children Molly (Baby Seetha) and Rajan (Master Jijo). Benny falls in love with Gracy (Rajasree), one of his students. Gracy's parents (S. P. Pillai and Adoor Pankajam) take undue advantage of Benny's blind love for Gracy. They gradually manage to eat into his wealth. Leela's attempts to bring her husband back fail. In fact, Benny does not even visit his ailing father Dr. Joshua (Kottayam Chellappan).
Benny plans to elope with Gracy. When Leela tries to prevent him she is beaten up. Leela falls unconscious. Thinking that Leela is dead, Dr Joshua orders his son to shoot her. He wanted to create an impression that Leela had committed suicide. Benny pulls the trigger. Leela, who was unconscious, dies of bullet injuries. Benny is arrested by the police.
A stand out performance by Ragini and Sathyan in the negative role were the highpoints of the film.
Nine songs by the Vayalar-Devarajan team turned timeless melodies. ‘Periyare, Periyare…' (A. M. Raja-P. Susheela) , ‘Panjarapaalu Mithayi…' (K. J. Yesudas-Leela), ‘Manas samadham thannattey…' (Raja-Jikki), ‘Omanakkayyil …' (Susheela), ‘Mulkireedamithenthinu…' (Susheela), ‘Kaanaan nalla kinavukal…' (S. Janaki), and a song and dance sequence pictured in colour, ‘Adam, Adam…' (Yesudas-Susheela) are still hummed.
Will be remembered: For its excellent music and the good story. As the film debut of Kaanam E J and the first Malayalam film of Rajasree.