Karnan is a Tamil mythological film, which released on January 1, 1964 and is directed and produced by B.R. Panthulu. This film bought together two exemplary actors of South Indian Cinema, N.T. Rama Rao and Sivaji Ganesan and till today, it is remembered for its grand budget. The film features an implausible star cast with Sivaji Ganesan playing the protagonist, while N.T. Rama Rao, S.A. Asokan, M.V. Rajamma, R. Muthuraman, Devika and Savithri are seen in supporting roles.
The mesmerising soundtrack and the beautifully shot war scenes in the film have carved a niche for themselves in the cinema world and are popular even today. Karnan is considered as one of the great Indian classics and has won the Certificate of Merit for the Third Best Feature Film at the 11th National Film Awards. The film received an overwhelmingly positive response after its release in 1964 and years later in 2012, a digitally restored version of the film was released, amidst much pomp and gaiety.
The film revolves around Karnan (Sivaji Ganesan), a greatly admired character from the Hindu epic, Mahabharata. Karnan is born to an unmarried princess Kunti, who is blessed by the God of Sun. To save herself the embarrassment, the princess decides to abandon the baby and sets him afloat in the Ganga River. Later, the baby is discovered and adopted by a charioteer. Having the traits of a warrior, Karnan, instead of following in his foster father's footsteps decides to learn archery and also masters the sport. He even goes ahead and challenges the Pandava prince Arjuna, known as the greatest archer of all time but is insulted and belittled for being brought up in a charioteer's house. Karnan, later, finds a friend and confidante in the Kaurava prince Duryodhana, who makes him the king of Anga.
As tension between the Kauravas and the Pandavas intensifies, Lord Krishna (N.T. Rama Rao), a supporter of the Pandavas, discovers the truth about Karnan's birth and discloses the same to Kunti. Kunti, unable to control her emotions, meets Karnan and requests him not to harm her sons, except Arjuna during the war of Kurukshetra. Having given his word to his friend, Duryodhana, Karnan turns down the offer to join the Pandavas' army and decides to support the Kauravas in the war. This leads to a historic battle between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, which displays bravery, courage and sacrifice.
B.R. Panthulu's Karnan was one of the most expensive, high budget films of its time. The music, composed by Vishwanathan Ramamoorthy is etched in the minds of many music lovers even today. In 2012, Raj Video Vision released an enhanced version of the film in DVD format, which is also available in Africa, Former Soviet Union, North Korea, Mongolia and the Indian Subcontinent. The film which is in Tamil has a runtime of 175 mins and a censor rating of U (Universal).
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