Karpagam is a 1963 Tamil-language Indian drama film written and directed by K. S. Gopalakrishnan. The film features an ensemble cast including Gemini Ganesan, S. V. Ranga Rao, M. R. Radha, R. Muthuraman, V. K. Ramasamy, V. Nagaiah, Karikol Raju, Savithri, Sheeladevi, K. R. Vijaya and Baby Shakila. In Karpagam, a rich farmer (Ranga Rao) makes his newly-married daughter (Vijaya) and her husband (Ganesan) live in his house to take care of his business. Problems arise when his estranged son (Muthuraman) starts to squander his money.
Karpagam is the debut film for Vijaya who plays the title character. It was released on 15 November 1963, Diwali day, and won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil – Certificate of Merit for the Second Best Feature Film. The film was also a commercial success, running for over 100 days in theatres; from the profits earned, Gopalakrishnan built a studio named after the film. It was remade in Hindi as Rishte Naate (1965), in Telugu as Thodu Needa (1965), and in Malayalam as Vishukkani (1977).
Nallasivam is a rich farmer and lives in the village Pillaiyarpatti with his son Rajangam and daughter Karpagam. Rajangam is married to Pankajam, daughter of the greedy Thandavam; Karpagam is married to Sundaram, a hardworking farmer from the same village. Karpagam and Sundaram continue to live with Nallasivam at his request to take care of the households and the farm.
Pankajam gives birth to a girl named Meenakshi, but she and Rajangam neglect her. Karpagam, who is childless, takes care of Meenakshi who starts considering Karpagam and Sundaram as her parents. Unhappy to see how Rajangam is squandering money, Nallasivam hands over the administration of his properties to Sundaram. Pankajam, who has ignored her child in her formative years, is annoyed with this development and at the instigation of Thandavam, forces Rajangam to send a legal notice to his father, asking for property settlement. Thandavam creates problems in Rajangam’s family by brainwashing and misleading Pankajam and Rajangam, who blindly follow his advice.
When Meenakshi is taken away by Rajangam, Karpagam goes into depression. Finally, Rajangam sends her back and Karpagam becomes happy. A bull attacks Meenakshi, and Karpagam is killed saving her. Meenakshi refuses to return to her parents and opts to stay with Nallasivam and Sundaram. Nallasivam forcibly gets his son-in-law married to his friend’s daughter Amudha, who was a friend of Karpagam, so that the child will have a mother. Sundaram and Meenakshi do not accept Amudha. Sundaram lives in the memory of his deceased wife Karpagam, roaming around like a sage. Amudha longs for the love and attention of both Sundaram and Meenakshi. Sadness prevails at home.
Meanwhile, Rajangam and Thandavam conspire to swindle Nallasivam. Thandavam, frustrated with his failure to swindle the wealth of Nallasivam’s family, decides to kill Sundaram and sends goons to attack him. Both Nallasivam and Amudha come and save him, while Thandavam is arrested. In the process, Amudha gets stabbed when a goon tries to attack Sundaram. When she is almost dying, Meenakshi sings her favourite song “Athai Madi Methaiyadi” and Amudha is saved. Sundaram realises Amudha’s love for Meenakshi. The family unites, while Rajangam and Pankajam repent for their actions.
Directed by K. S. Gopalakrishnan
Produced by K. S. Sabarinathan
Written by K. S. Gopalakrishnan
Starring Gemini Ganesan, Savithri
Music by Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy
Cinematography M. Karnan
Edited by R. Devarajan
Production Amar Jothi Movies
Release date 15 November 1963
Running time 169 minutes