1933 silent film dug out of Padmanabhaswamy temple

MUMBAI: Besides the discovery of huge treasures from vaults of the famed Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, a silent film focusing a turbulent phase in Travancore made in 1933 has been dug out of the box where it has been lying unseen for decades.

The film that tells the story of Anizham Tirunal Marthanda Varama, creator of modern Travancore, also has prefixed to it rare footage of the ‘arattu festival‘ shot in 1930s. The film is, perhaps, the only motion picture documentation of the temple and its customs as existed in the early 20th century.

Titled Marthandavarma, the film is an adaptation of the famous novel by Malayalam’s literary icon C V Raman Pillai published in 1891. The literary classic, which follows the style of ‘historical romances‘ of English novelist Walter Scott, narrates the story of Marthanda Varma who renovated the temple in the present form and dedicated his kingdom to the presiding deity and declared himself and his descendants to be Padmanabhadasas (servants of Lord Padmanabha).

His assumption of power was preceded by a gory phase of power struggle and civil war in Travancore as he had to suppress open rebellion by a clique of powerful Nair chieftains who wanted a puppet to be enthroned in place of a farsighted statesman of great courage like Mathanda Varma.

According to Film Lovers Cultural Association society general secretary Dr M K P Nair, the film was made by R Sundararaj in 1933 and directed by South Indian film veteran P V Rao.

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