Location Scouting in “Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban” (1973)

Film Title: Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban
(English translation: World Roaming Bachelor)

Year: 1973
Directed by M. G. Ramachandran (M.G.R.)
Produced by Em Gee Yar Pictures
Country of Production: India

Synopsis:

Mr.Murugan (M.G.R) is an Indian scientist who has recently discovered how to store a part of the energy unleashed from lightning. He announces this during a Hong Kong Scientists’ Conferencem though he says that he will not reveal his discovery since the world is at the brink of World War III and his research may be used for destructive purposes. Scientist Mr. Bairavan denounces Murugan that he is merely showing off without having conducted any concrete research. So, Murugan demonstrates his new stored energy and destroys the vital research notes, an act which upsets the other scientists.

Murugan then departs with his girlfriend Vimala for a world tour. He tells Vimala that he actually pretended to destroy the research notes and he has kept the notes in a safe place. He is willing to use them and conduct further research so that it can be used for productive purposes. Bairavan who has been following them hears this and follows them wherever they go. Bairavan wants the research notes so that he can sell them to some countries for a hefty sum.

Bairavan shoots Murugan with a special gun, but not killing him. Vimala faints on seeing this. Murugan becomes mentally affected and is taken into Bairavan’s custody. Now comes Mr.Raju (M.G.R) a CBCID officer and Murugan’s younger brother who arrives in Singapore in search of his brother. How he finds his brother and what happens to the others form the rest of the story. (Source: Wikipedia)

The Film Locations:

1. Keppel Harbour and Sentosa Island


Singapore. A view of Keppel Harbour and Sentosa as shot from Mount Faber.

Keppel Harbour in 1972/73, before the World Trade Centre (now HarbourFront) and the Cable Car Tower were built.
Sentosa Island (or Pulau Blakang Mati) before the development of major tourist attractions. Two of the colonial era buildings sit atop the hill on the island. They were built by the British between the 1880s to 1930s to accommodate the garrisons for the coastal defence of the island and the harbour. Now the conserved buildings house hotels and attractions such as the “Images of Singapore“, Moevenpick Heritage Hotel, and Capella Hotel.

2. Paramount Hotel?
(updated on 12 May 2013: Top-floor restaurant in the Sea View Hotel.)

Aerial views of the city from a restaurant in a skyscraper hotel. My guess is that the location is the Paramount Hotel along East Coast Road (now East Village Hotel; but currently closed due to a recent fire breakout). The lower left film-still shows the reclaimed land off the East Coast of Singapore.

(Updated on 12 May 2013: The location as depicted in this set of film-stills was most definitely the Sea View Hotel at Amber Close. MGR had an aerial view of the surrounding cityscape from the top-floor restaurant in the hotel.)

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03a-RECLAMATION AREA AT KATONG NEAR SEA VIEW HOTEL, SINGAPORE1969
(Updated on 12 May 2013) From the National Archives PICAS website: A view from the top-floor restaurant in Sea View Hotel, of the reclamation area at Katong on the east coast of Singapore. 1969.

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03b-SEA VIEW HOTEL AT AMBER CLOSE, SINGAPORE1970
(Updated on 12 May 2013) From the National Archives’ PICAS website: Sea View Hotel at Amber Close. 1970.
It was in business between 1969 and 2003. A new condominium sits on the former site of the Sea View Hotel now.

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Immediately preceding the shots of the “restaurant in the sky” in the last set of film-stills, M.G.R. and a female actress were filmed entering what looked to be hotel lobby and there they ask to meet a person at the reception. Notice the “key box” in the lower right film-still. This could be the hotel lobby of the former Paramount Hotel in 1972/73.

(Updated on 12 May 2013: This could be hotel lobby of the Sea View Hotel at Amber Close.)

3. Haw Par Villa or Tiger Balm Gardens


One of the most popular tourist destinations in Singapore during the 1970s — Tiger Balm Garden, otherwise known as Haw Par Villa (虎豹别墅). There is a five-minute segment in the film that is set in the Tiger Balm Garden, with M.G.R. leading a group of children (from various races) to sing and dance to the song “Sirithu Vaazhavendum” (literal translation: “Should Be Laughing”).


Don’t quarrel and fight. Life is too short. Be merry and laugh away…


Chinese mythological park, statues of Chinese deities and mythic characters, Tamil song and film, Indian actors, Bollywood-style dancing, multi-racial make-up of the children. What a melting pot.


Most of the statues seen in the film still exist to this day. Upper left: Laughing Buddha. Upper right: Dioramas are aplenty in the villa. Lower left and right: Shakyamuni Buddha atop a chinese-style pagoda. 


Villians in the film attempt to hide behind the statues.


Bollywood dancing with Sumo-wrestling!


The song ends with a Bollywood actor (Nagesh) and the children incorporating the “antics” of the ape into their dance moves.

I have uploaded this catchy song and dance sequence from the film onto Youtube. Watch it here.

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From the film, we can also tell that Haw Par Villa in 1972/73 was located just next to the sea. Before the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) Pasir Panjong Wharves “claimed control” over the west coast of Singapore.

….


INTERMISSION. Probably required for a three-hour long film.
The segments set in Singapore take up no more than twenty minutes. M.G.R. will roam the other parts of the world in the film — Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Europe, Bangkok and Osaka…

…..

8 comments on “Location Scouting in “Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban” (1973)

  1. MGR Roop says:

    Thanks for the information Sir.

    • sublime4199 says:

      Hi MGR Roop,

      Thanks for visiting the blog.
      I realised that I have made a mistake earlier by mistaking the top-floor restaurant as that of “Paramount Hotel”. Upon closer inspection and another round of searching through National Archive of Singapore’s online photo database (PICAS), I should be able to determine that the scenes of the “hotel and restaurant” in question should be that of the “Sea View Hotel” in Singapore.

      Cheers.

      • MGR Roop says:

        Thanks for the reply you are right that is Sea View hotel, Singapore. The same name appears in the title card of the movie.
        If you can read Tamil I have uploaded the title card in photo bucket. Link is given below the name is underlined in yellow.

      • sublime4199 says:

        Thanks for pointing this out.
        I can’t read Tamil, unfortunately.
        I guess I should get some friends to translate the words in the movie title cards when I next do another post on Tamil films shot in Singapore. Thanks again!

  2. mostlycinema says:

    Truly Amazing Blog!!. There is a 1960 hindi film called Singapore set here of course, directed by Shakti Samant and starring Shammi Kapoor.Are you aware?

    • Hello Amit. Thanks for visiting. Yes, I’m aware of the 1960 Hindi film “Singapore” by Shakti Samanti. Haven’t got round to writing about its film locations. I’m actually spending more time on my other website – sgfilmlocations.com. There are also many Indian films produced by industries outside of Bollywood that were shot in Singapore — the Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Bengali language films. Pretty much got them covered in my filmography at sgfilmlocations.com. Will write about them in time to come.
      Great work at your mostlycinema blog.
      Cheers, Hun Ping

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