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Chemmeen The Prawn is a 1965 Indian Malayalam-language romance film, based on the novel of the same name by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai It was adapted into a screenplay by S L Puram Sadanandan, directed by Ramu Kariat, and produced by Babu Ismail Sait under the banner Kanmani Films

The film tells the story of a pre-marital and later extra-marital relationship between Karuthamma, the daughter of an ambitious Hindu fisherman, and Pareekutty, the son of a Muslim trader The theme of the film is a popular legend among the fishermen communities along the coastal Kerala State in southern India regarding chastity If a married fisher woman is faithless when her husband is out in the sea, the Sea Goddess Kadalamma literally meaning Mother Sea would consume him The film's cast includes Sheela as Karuthamma, Madhu as Pareekutty, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair as Chembankunju, and Sathyan as Palani It has cinematography by Marcus Bartley and U Rajagopal, and editing by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and K D George The original score and songs were composed by Salil Chowdhury, with lyrics by Vayalar, and songs featuring the voices of K J Yesudas, P Leela, Manna Dey and Santha P Nair

The film released on 19 August 1965 It received strongly positive critical reviews and was recognized as a technically and artistically brilliant film It is usually cited as the first notable creative film in South India It was also the first South Indian film to win the Indian President's Gold Medal for the Best Film, which it did so in 1965 It was screened at various international film festivals and won awards at the Cannes and Chicago festivals The film was included in the list of 100 greatest Indian films by IBN Live Chemmeen was dubbed and released in Hindi as Chemmeen Lahren and in English as The Anger of the Sea


  • 1 Plot
  • 2 Cast
  • 3 Production
    • 31 Novel adaptation
    • 32 Filming
  • 4 Awards
  • 5 Significance
  • 6 Soundtrack
  • 7 Footnotes
  • 8 Bibliography
  • 9 External links


Karuthamma Sheela is the daughter of an ambitious fisherman, Chembankunju Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair She is in love with a young fish trader, Pareekutty Madhu Chembankunju's only aim in life is to own a boat and net Pareekutty finances Chembankunju to realise this dream This is on a condition that the haul by the boat will be sold only to him Karuthamma's mother Chakki Adoor Bhavani comes to know about the love affair of her daughter with Pareekutty, and reminds her daughter about the life they lead within the boundaries of strict social tradition and warns her to keep away from such a relationship The fisherfolks believe that a fisherwoman has to lead a life within the boundaries of strict social traditions

Karuthamma sacrifices her love for Pareekutty and marries Palani Sathyan, an orphan discovered by Chembankunju in the course of one of his fishing expeditions Following the marriage, Karuthamma accompanies her husband to his village, despite her mother's sudden illness and her father's requests to stay In his fury, Chembankunju disowns her On acquiring a boat and a net and subsequently adding one more, Chembankunju becomes more greedy and heartless With his dishonesty, he drives Pareekutty to bankruptcy After the death of his wife, Chembankunju marries Pappikunju C R Rajakumari, the widow of the man from whom he had bought his first boat Panchami Lata, Chembankunju's younger daughter, leaves home to join Karuthama, on arrival of her step mother Chembankunju's savings is manipulated by his second wife The setbacks in life turns Chembankunju mad

Meanwhile, Karuthamma has endeavoured to be a good wife and mother, but scandal about her old love for Pareekutty spreads in the village Palani's friends ostracize him and refuse to take him fishing with them By a stroke of fate, Karuthamma and Pareekutty meet one night and their old love is awakened Palani, at sea alone and baiting a shark, is caught in a huge whirlpool and is swallowed by the sea Next morning, Karuthamma and Parekutty, are also found dead hand in hand, washed ashore At a distance, there lies a baited dead shark and Palani


  • Sheela as Karuthamma
  • Madhu as Pareekkutty
  • Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair as Chembankunju
  • Sathyan as Palani
  • Adoor Bhavani as Chakki
  • Latha Raju as Panchami
  • Adoor Pankajam as Nalla Pennu
  • S P Pillai as Achankunju
  • Rajakumari Venu as Pappikkunju
  • Philomina
  • Paravoor Bharathan
  • Nilambur Ayisha


Novel adaptation

Main article: Chemmeen novel

Kariat bought the rights from Thakazhi for ₹ 8000, a comparatively large sum for a Malayalam novel then With adapting the novel, Ramu Kariat was taking a big risk as everybody in the film circle was almost certain that the film would be no patch on the novel


Once Ramu Kariat had decided to make a film based on the novel, he approached several people including the Kerala State Government for funds to produce the film On one of these journeys, he met Babu Ismail Sait Kanmani Babu Then in his early twenties, Kanmani Babu agreed to finance the film Although the novel was set in the coastal area of Alappuzha, The film was completely shot from Nattika beach, located about 25 km from Thrissur Ramu Kariat wanted to shoot the film in the exact locations mentioned in Thakazhi’s novel But some people at Purakkad demanded rent for their boats, forcing Kariat to shift the location to Nattika, a place he was familiar with In the 40th anniversary of the release of the film, Madhu described how the fisherfolk of Nattika cooperated by offering their homes and clothing for the filming He also described how Sathyan escaped being drowned in the sea during the shooting After the outdoor shoot was done Marcus Bartley had to leave as he had to complete a Dilip Kumar film Rajagopal gave the finishing touches to the film


  • National Film Award for Best Feature Film
  • Certificate of Merit at the Chicago International Film Festival
  • Gold Medal at the Cannes Film Festival for Best Cinematography - Marcus Bartley


The film was included in the list of 100 greatest Indian films by IBN Live


Soundtrack album by Salil Chowdhury
Released 1965
Genre World Music
Label HMV
Producer Babu Ismail Sait
Salil Chowdhury chronology
Chand Aur Suraj

The music was composed by Salil Chowdhary and lyrics was written by Vayalar Ramavarma Chemmeen marked Salil Chowdhary's debut in South Indian music

No Song Singers Lyrics Length m:ss
1 Kadalinakkare Ponore K J Yesudas Vayalar Ramavarma 3:48
2 Maanasamaine Varoo Manna Dey Vayalar Ramavarma 3:12
3 Pennaale Pennaale K J Yesudas, P Leela, Chorus Vayalar Ramavarma 5:39
4 Puthan Valakkare K J Yesudas, P Leela, Chorus, KP Udayabhanu, Shantha P Nair Vayalar Ramavarma 3:19
5 "Theme Music" Instrumental 2:20


  1. ^ Gupta 1980, Chemmeen 1965, by Ramu Kariat in Kerala, is usually cited as the first notable creative film in the South
  2. ^ a b "'Mayabazar' is India's greatest film ever: IBNLive poll" IBN Live May 12, 2013 Retrieved May 24, 2013
  3. ^ a b c d http://wwwthehinducom/features/friday-review/collection-of-facts-and-trivia-about-malayalam-film-chemmeen/article7530083ece
  4. ^ "തകഴിയെ കാത്ത കാത്ത" Malayala Manorama 1 June 2011 
  5. ^ "Cinema limits freedom of viewers" Chennai, India: The Hindu 28 January 2008 Retrieved 27 May 2011 
  6. ^ "Thrissur » Nattika Beach" Keralatourismcom Retrieved 29 May 2011 
  7. ^ G Jayakumar 25 November 2005 "Remembering a classic" Chennai, India: The Hindu Retrieved 27 May 2011 
  8. ^ "Chemmeen won the National Award" The Times Of India Retrieved 11-10-2012  Check date values in: |access-date= help
  9. ^ "Fifty and still refreshing" The Hindu 11 August 2006 Retrieved 24 May 2011
  10. ^ "100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time" IBN Live April 26, 2013 Retrieved May 24, 2013
  11. ^ "IBNLive Poll: Vote for India's greatest film of all time" IBN Live April 26, 2013 Retrieved May 24, 2013


  • Gupta, CD 1980 "Film Quarterly" Film Quarterly 34: 32–42 doi:101525/fq198034104a00070 JSTOR 1211852 
  • B Vijayakumar November 22, 2010 "Chemmeen 1965" Chennai, India: The Hindu 
  • "Celebrating 40 years of a movie classic" Chennai, India: The Hindu October 13, 2005 

External links

  • Chemmeen on IMDb

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