Manohara produced by M. Somasundaram. The Sivaji Ganesan-L. V. Prasad production was distinct, becoming a cult classic. Karunanidhi virtually rewrote Mudaliar’s play, introducing interesting changes like the climactic sequence for which he drew inspiration from “Samson and Delilah”, especially the part where the blind Samson pushes the pillars down. Mu. Karunanidhi’s writing was superb with a contemporary touch. His dialogue had punch, satire, wit and humour. Sivaji Ganesan was excellent in his dialogue delivery and P. Kannamba who played the queen mother was equally brilliant. Her line, ‘Poruthathu podhum, pongi ezhu, maganey’, became quite famous.
(During a chat years later, Sivaji Ganesan told this writer that Kannamba stole the film from him with that single line, and at that time he almost wished he played the queen’s role. Interestingly, when he was a stage artiste, he had played the role of the queen in ‘Manohara’! The play, of course, did not have this line, much to his regret.)
Others in the cast were Telugu starlet Girija as the princess-heartthrob of the hero, T. R. Rajakumari as the king’s ambitious mistress Vasanthasena. Not so young at that time she was still attractive and carried off her role with conviction.
Kaka Radhakrishnan, Pandari Bai, Javert Seetharaman, S. A. Natarajan, T. P. Muthulakshmi and Sadasiva Rao, (a Telugu actor as the king) also did their roles well. The film was dubbed into Telugu and Hindi but these versions did not do as well as the original.
Remembered for the brilliant performances of Sivaji Ganesan and Kannamba, and for the scintillating dialogue of Mu. Karunanidhi.