Mangaiyar Thilakam (Eng: A Jewel Among Women) is a 1955 Indian Tamil-language drama film directed by L. V. Prasad. The film, released on 26 August 1955, was a remake of the 1953 Marathi film Vahinicha Bangadya. Mangaiyar Thilakam was produced by Sripadha Shankar under the banner of Vaidya films. It stars Sivaji Ganesan and Padmini, while M. N. Rajam, S. V. Subbaiah, K. A. Thangavelu and K. Sarangapani play pivotal roles. Mangaiyar Thilakam’s soundtrack and background score were composed by S. Dakshinamurthi, while the lyrics for the songs were written by Kannadasan, Puratchidasan and Maruthakasi. P. L. Rai and N. M. Shankar handled cinematography and editing respectively. The story was adapted by Sadasiva Brahmam and dialogues were written by Valampuri Somanathan, G. Ramakrishnan and D. Nagalingam.
The story starts with the special birthday celebration of a girl. An unusual ceremony is performed, where the child goes to perform puja at the samadhi built over a cremation site, and which is usually built at the place where a pativratha or great lady has performed sati. A friend asks about the story of the sati, and Vasudevan narrates the story after telling that this not an ordinary Sati, but an Aajeeva Sati whose whole life was a sacrifice pleasing to God, and who died not actually as a Sati but as a Muttaida/Suhagan in the lifetime of her husband after dedicating her life to family. Vasudevan begins to narrate the story.
Karunakaran and Vasudevan are brothers whose parents had died. They are very much loving and close to each other but Vasudevan longs for mother’s love. Yielding to the relatives persuasion, Karunakaran accepts to marry Sulochana. Vasudevan gets upset as he is afraid of what will happen with new person and he only has got one brother, no mother no father. He sets off to the bride’s house to see her and he likes her at the first glimpse because she is very nice to him.
The wedding takes place and Sulochana becomes a loving wife and the perfect home-maker because she is very traditional and she builds the family including all the mother’s love for Vasudevan. The house was like “house for ghosts” because there was no wife and mother until now, but now Sulochana starts everything perfectly, regular puja, Tulsi, rangoli, toranam above door, keeping two cows, cooking proper food at proper time, lunchbox for Vasudevan, waiting for each other to come home, celebrating all the small and big festivals, keeping all the Nomu (Vrath) with fasting and feasting, and everything like that. For Vasudevan, she is the only mother he ever knew and he fully accepts her as his own mother. Sulochana gets pregnant and delivers a baby boy, but the delivery is very difficult and the baby boy is born dead. The doctor tells Karunakaran that Sulochana will not have any more children because the delivery was complicated and he had to cut some organ to save her life. When Sulochana hears of this, she is very sad, but noble lady, and she says, “God gave me one sweet son. Why I should ask more?” and she pats Vasudevan lovingly on the head.
Time rolls on and Vasudevan becomes as an adult and becomes a college professor, but unfortunately, Karunakaran and Sulochana was not blessed with children. Vasudevan presents Sulochana gold bangles from his first pay. Vasudevan was arranged to marry Rao Bahadur Ponnambalam’s and Akilam’s daughter Prabha.
Comic relief was presented in a moral story of Ponnambalam’s family. Ponnambalam listens too much to and often quarrels with Akilam. This drives Ponnambalam’s son Kalamani (K. A. Thangavelu) and his wife Neela (Ragini) to hatch a drama in order for Ponnambalam and Akilam to be united and respect each other. Kalamani and Neela succeed in this.
Prabha’s character was the opposite of Sulochana’s, but the latter hardly bothers about this and carries on her daily good deeds. Prabha gets pregnant and delivers a baby boy, Ravi (Master Ravi), but she does not care much for him. Sulochana picks up the tasks and takes care of Ravi as a mother should. As Ravi grows, Prabha does not like this and forbids Sulochana from raising Ravi.
Ravi falls ill due to the separation and Sulochana takes care of him day and night, not bothering about her meals and health. Ravi becomes very serious for a month, till the doctor who treats him loses hope. Sulochana takes Ravi to a temple and pleads to Lord Shiva to take her life instead and spare Ravi’s life. Prabha apologises to Sulochana, but the latter says that it was by the God’s grace before collapsing due to being too weak. Even on her death bed, Sulochana enquires about Ravi’s health. After thanking Karunakaran and Vasudevan for a good life as a daughter-in-law in the house and says that she would be reborn in this house, Sulochana dies.
Sulochana’s body was cremated, but Karunakaran and Vasudevan were surprised to see the gold bangles were not damaged during the process. A baby girl was born on the exact day after a year and she was accepted by the whole family as Sulochana reborn. The gold bangles would be worn to her on every birthday, thus the special occasion.
Directed by L. V. Prasad
Screenplay by L. V. Prasad
Story by Shantaram Athavale (Original) V. Sadasivabrahmam (Adapted)
Based on Vahinchya Bangdya by Shantaram Athavale
Produced by Sripadha Shankar
Starring Sivaji Ganesan, Padmini
Cinematography P. L. Rai
Edited by N. M. Shankar
Music by S. Dakshinamurthi
Production Vaidya Films
Release date 26 August 1955
Running time 182 minutes