Unnaipol Oruvan (English: A Man Like You) is a 1965 Indian Tamil-language drama film written, co-produced and directed by Jayakanthan. Based on a novel of the same name by Jayakanthan himself, the film was his directorial debut. The film won the Third Best Feature Film at the 12th National Film Awards in 1965. The film had no songs with the background score composed by Chitti Babu.
After being abandoned by her lover, Thangam, a construction worker, lives in a slum with her only son Chitti Babu. Chitti grows up as an irresponsible boy until he meets the owner of an ice cream factory. The owner preaches him the importance of one's mother and further provides him a job in his factory and gives him an admission to study in his night school. A reformed Chitti then takes up the burden of supporting his mother financially.
During this time, an astrologer Manickam enters the slum and starts living there. Thangam gets fond of him and becomes pregnant with his child. Upon her insistence, Manickam joins her and starts living with the family. A good hearted Manickam shows fatherly affection towards Chitti, but Chitti who is possessive about his mother does not reciprocate his love for him. A mentally disturbed Chitti leaves home and stops going to work. Manickam understands the situation and leaves the house. Chitti on hearing this, returns home and starts living with his mother but remains indifferent. His behaviour affects Thangam emotionally. She soon gives birth to a baby girl and dies. It takes some time for Chitti to understand that he is an orphan and decides to take care of his sister.
The film was based on a story written by Jayakanthan, which was serilaised in the magazine Ananda Vikatan. The story was then published as a novel under the name Unnaipol Oruvan.
Jayakanthan was encouraged by members of the Communist Party of India, with whom he was associated, to make a film based on his stories. "Venus" Krishnamurthy, a Tamil film distributor, had earlier informed Jayakanthan that he was ready to produce a film based on one of Jayakanthan's stories. Jayakanthan, on the encouragement of his friends and Communist party members, met Krishnamurthy and told his idea of making a film adaptation of Unnaipol Oruvan. Krishnamurthy was impressed with the novel and asked Jayakanthan to write the script. Jayakanthan completed the script in 10 days and showed it to Krishnamurthy, who after hearing the script, remarked that it resembles a typical Bengali film and did not have any entertaining aspects featuring in it. Jayakanthan and his friends took the criticism seriously and walked out. He formed a production company with his friends and named it "Asia Jothi Films".
The film was made on a shoestring budget of ₹80,000–₹100,000. Principal photography of the film began on the Diwali day of 1964. Members of the Seva-stage troupe were signed up to play principal roles in the film. Filming was completed in 21 days. The film had no songs and the background score was added from Chitti Babu's musical scores.
Release and reception
The film was censored on 30 December 1964 and sent for the 12th National Film Awards (1964). However, it got released only on 27 February 1965. Jayakanthan released the film himself as the distributors backed out citing there were no known actors in the film. It won the Third Best Feature Film at the National Film Awards ceremony. The film is widely considered by the critics as the first neorealistic film in Tamil cinema. It started a "new wave" and is seen as a trendsetter for realistic films in Tamil cinema.
Despite receiving critical acclaim, the film was a failure at the box office. It was also screened at the Soviet Union. Politician K. Kamaraj appreciated the film, saying, "The Government must enable the public to watch this ﬁlm freely so that the message of the ﬁlm reaches out better and to larger audience." As of September 2013, no print of the film is known to survive, making it a lost film.