Vasantha Maligai (Joyful Palace) is a 1972 Tamil film, directed by K.S. Prakash Rao, starring Sivaji Ganesan and Vanisri, a remake of the 1971 hit Telugu film, Prem Nagar. (Its producer, D. Ramanaidu, made a third version of the film in Hindi, titled like the 1971 film Prem Nagar, which was released in 1974.)
Vasantha Maligai was a blockbuster, running in theatres for nearly 750 days, and Ganesan and Vanisri were both well-received for their acting. In the Telugu version, the lead roles were played by Akkineni Nageswara Rao and Vanisree, and in the Hindi by Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini. A digitally restored version of the film was released in March 2013.
Anand (Sivaji Ganesan) is a rich playboy and who loves alcohol. He has an older brother, Vijay (K. Balaji). Anand, who has been abroad, boards a plane home, on a shift that air stewardess, Latha (Vanisri), is working. After the plane lands, the scene changes to Latha’s home where we meet her father (Major Sundarrajan), mother (Pandari Bai), two brothers, and a sister. Her elder brother resides at home with his wife, but being the eldest, Latha is the highest earning member of the family. A struggle begins when Latha’s mother objects to her being an air hostess: She begs her to change profession so that she can be home at more decent hours.
The scene changes to Anand celebrating his birthday in a pub near his home. Vanisri arrives at the same pub for a job interview with the manager. However, the manager, a lustful man, in the guise of interviewing her, shuts the door and tries to rape her. While leaving the pub, Anand hears Latha screaming and pushes open the door. He fights the manager, rescues Latha, then drives her home. The next day, Latha goes to Anand’s house to return the coat he had lent her the night before. She then asks him for a job, to which he agrees, hiring her as his caretaker.
The next day he shows her around his house, and she meets his mother, brother, and sister-in-law. Latha soon notices that Anand is an alcoholic and, therefore, wishes to resign, but a servant begs her not to because Anand’s behaviour has changed for the better since meeting her.
Anand’s fiancée comes to his home and starts ranting that she no longer wishes to marry him because he is an alcoholic. Meanwhile, his sister-in-law, who concludes that Latha has come to steal Anand’s affections, disturbs his mother with these comments, as well as by the comments of his fiancée. Latha, however, assures the mother, after everyone has left the table, that she will in fact try and stop Anand from drinking. Later on she catches him drinking with his servant (Nagesh). His servant runs away upon seeing her, but Anand continues to drink. Latha throws the glass after arguing with him, so infuriating Anand that he throws a glass bottle onto Latha’s forehead.
When he realises what he has done, he destroys all his bottles, promising Latha that he will never drink again. He confides in her the anguish of his soul, how when he was young both his father and his Ayya died. After this transformative incident, he announces that he is going to build a new palace for himself and the girl that he truly loves. He will call the palace “Vasantha Maligai.”
Anand brings Latha to this new house; everyone in his family goads Latha to find out who this mysterious woman is that Anand loves. Latha, too, is curious to meet the girl of Anand’s heart. He then shows her her own reflection in a separate room revealing that she is the girl of his affections. However, Vijay witnesses this, and runs to tell his mother. He conjures a story about Latha having stolen his wife’s jewellery. Hearing this, Anand becomes suspicious of Latha. He asks Latha about it, but she runs away utterly dejected that he could suspect her of such wrongdoing. Fortunately, Anand overhears his servant whisper to another about Vijay’s malicious plan.
Anand confesses his ignorance and apologises. But Latha will not forgive him. Anand loses his composure and becomes seriously ill. Meanwhile, Latha receives a marriage proposal. Anand’s mother goes to apologise to Latha while Latha hands her an invitation to her wedding. Anand’s mother shows this to her son, who then decides to attend the wedding and Latha is shocked to see him. She meets him privately to reconcile their differences but, unfortunately, her sister-in-law spots them and announces it to the guests. All depart, leaving Latha with her family. Then, all of a sudden, Anand’s mother enters the room and declares that Latha should marry Anand. When Latha arrives at the palace, she is shocked to see Anand’s condition. She does not know that out of desperation and lovesickness he had poisoned himself. As soon as Latha enters the room he faints. The scene changes to the hospital where we see a recovered Anand. And upon seeing Latha and his family, he is revived. The film ends on the blissful note of Latha hugging Anand.
Directed by K. S. Prakash Rao
Produced by D. Ramanaidu
Written by Bala Murugan
Story by Kousalya Dev
Starring Sivaji Ganesan, Vanisri, K. Balaji, Santha Kumari, Nagesh, Pandari Bai, Major Sundarrajan, V. K. Ramasamy
Music by K. V. Mahadevan
Cinematography A. Vincent
Edited by K. A. Marthand & Narasimha Rao
Production Vijaya & Suresh Productions
Distributed by Vijaya & Suresh Combines
Release dates 29 October 1972
Running time 162 mins