Thillana Mohanambal (English: The Dance Queen Mohanambal) is a 1968 Indian Tamil movie written, directed, distributed and produced by A. P. Nagarajan. The film stars Sivaji Ganesan, Padmini and T. S. Balaiah in the lead roles, with A. V. M. Rajan, Nagesh and Manorama in supporting roles. It tells the story of about Shanmugasundaram, a Nadaswaram player who falls in love with Mohanambal, a Bharatanatyam dancer who reciprocates his feelings, but unfortunate circumstances and their egoistic nature prevents them from confessing their love for one another. How they overcome their self-created obstacles and those created by the people around them forms the rest of the story.
The film was adapted from Kothamangalam Subbu’s novel of the same name, which was published as a series of weekly chapters in the Tamil magazine Ananda Vikatan in 1956. The film was mostly shot in Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Madurai. Its original soundtrack was composed by K. V. Mahadevan, and songs like “Nalandhana”, “Maraindhirundhu” and “Pandian Naanirukka” remain popular today among the Tamil diaspora.
“Sikkal” Shanmugasundaram (Sundaram) (Sivaji Ganesan) is a devoted Nadaswaram player, but is short-tempered and sensitive. He meets Mohanambal (Mohana) (Padmini), a Bharatnatyam dancer, and they fall in love with each other. Sundaram’s ego prevents him from developing his relationship with Mohanambal, who asks him to play a Thillana on his Nadaswaram while she dances. Mohanambal’s mother Vadivambal (C. K. Saraswathi), an influential and mercenary woman, wants her daughter to marry a wealthy man so that she can settle down in life properly. Blinded by love, she disobeys her mother, creating a rift between them. Unaware of her feelings, Sundaram decides to leave the country along with Karuppayi (Manorama), a folk dancer whom he considers to be his sister. Mohana calls him a coward and challenges him to stay, which he readily accepts. In a temple, Sundaram plays the Thillana and Mohana dances. Sundaram, impressed with Mohana’s performance, crowns her the title “Thillana Mohanambal”. Suddenly Nagalingam (E. R. Sahadevan), a landlord who wanted to marry Mohana, turns up to stab Sundaram with a poisoned knife out of jealousy. He came to the temple to kill Mohana.
Sundaram is admitted to hospital but recovers from the incident. Later, he and Mohana meet in a concert programme where they perform, against Mohana’s mother’s wishes. For his personal gains, “Savadal” Vaithi (Nagesh), a cunning man, befriends the Maharaja of Madhanpur (M. N. Nambiar), who is the programme’s chief guest. Vaithi promises to make Mohana the Maharaja’s mistress. Vaithi traps Mohana by telling her that the Maharaja has invited Nadhaswaram and Bharatanatyam performers to perform in his palace, and that Sundaram has also decided to attend. Mohana immediately accepts the offer and the two visit Madhanpur. Vaithi treats Sundaram’s group badly and Sundaram decides to leave. He sees Mohana visiting the Maharaja’s room. The Maharaja asks Mohana to be his mistress. but she rejects his advances and is rescued by the Maharaja’s wife, the Maharani. Sundaram decides that Mohana does not love him, despite her repeated denial of the Maharaja’s offer. Depressed, Mohana runs away. The Maharaja reveals the truth to Sundaram that Mohana had refused his offer and she only loves Sundaram. Sundaram realises his mistake, and rushes to apologize to Mohana, but sees her trying to hang herself from the ceiling of a room in which she had locked herself. He screams to her to stop and promises he will never doubt her love again. Sundaram breaks the door and saves Mohana. They then get married with the approval of her mother. Vaithi is arrested for his crimes.
Directed by A. P. Nagarajan
Produced by A. P. Nagarajan
Written by A. P. Nagarajan
Based on Thillana Mohanambal by Kothamangalam Subbu
Starring Sivaji Ganesan, Padmini, T. S. Balaiah
Music by K. V. Mahadevan
Cinematography K. S. Prasad
Edited by M. N. Rajan & . R. Natarajan
Production Sri Vijayalakshmi Pictures
Distributed by Sri Vijayalakshmi Pictures
Release dates 27 July 1968
Running time 165-175 minutes