MGR was being entirely truthful when he declared that his ‘Naadodi Mannan’ was not a scene-by-scene adaptation of ‘The Prisoner of Zenda’. While at Calcutta in 1938 where he was acting in ‘maaya machindra’ for Metropolitan Pictures, MGR had watched the movie adaptation of Justin Huntly McCarthy’s stage play ‘If I Were King’. The movie and its catchy title made a lasting impact on MGR. Another English movie that MGR found inspiring was ‘Viva Zapata’ (1952). Marlon Brando playing the role of Mexican revolutionary Emilinao Zapata who defies the tyrant president Porfirio Diaz stirred MGR’s imagination to great lengths.
MGR made his crew consisting of R.M. Veerappan, Vidwan V. Lakshmanan and S.K.T. Sami watch the three English movies and gave them his suggestions regarding the outline he had in mind. Several brainstorming sessions later, the team came up with an imaginative admixture of the three stories, tailoring it skillfully to suit the Indian context.
(to be contd )