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Aradhana (1962)

APK | December 18, 2006

Cast: ANR, Savithri, Jaggaiah, Girija, Relangi, Rajasree, Ramana Reddy, Rita, Sivaramakrishnaiah, Vijayalakshmi, Lakshmi, Rajarao, Jagannatha Rao, Rajaratnam, Mahankali Venkaiah, Jhansi, Rajeshwari, Sujatha, Veerabhadra Rao, Bujjamma, Purusottam, Rambabu, Janaki, Ramakrishna, Prasad, Nirmala, Sarojini, Gummadi (guest appearance), Nagayya (guest appearance) and Others.
Cinematography: C. Nageswara Rao.
Dialogues: Narla Chiranjeevi-Acharya Atreya.
Lyrics: Sri Sri, Narla Chiranjeevi, Arudra & Kosaraju.
Singers: Suseela, Janaki, Swarnalatha, Ghantasala & Pitapuram Nageswara Rao.
Music: Saluri Rajeswara Rao.
Direction: V. Madhusudana Rao.
Producer(s): Rangarao-VB Rajendra Prasad.
Banner: Jagapathi Pictures.
Release Year: 1962.

ANR and Savithri

Comic duo Girija and Relangi
VB Rajendraprasad and Rangarao had produced 'Annapurna' starring Jagayya and Jamuna, which won critical acclaim but failed to rake in any money. It was a script written with ANR in mind, who did not have the dates and so the role went to Jagayya. Having lost out on money and ideas, they left to West Bengal for some cinematic inspiration. They were not disappointed; after watching a number of movies, they zeroed in on the Bengali film 'Sagarika' starring the legendary beauty Suchithra Sen and Uttam Kumar. In that movie, the lead actor Uttam Kumar goes blind only to restore his sight later. With this new idea for a Telugu movie, they left to Madras to show it to ANR, who okayed it instantly. Thus started the making of the super hit movie 'Aradhana'.

The story goes something like this: Murali Krishna (ANR) is a medical student, staying at the house of a 'sahukar' (Tradesman) whose daughter Sarala (Rajasree) is madly in love with him. Murali has eyes only for her classmate Anuradha (Savithri). Filled with jealousy, Sarala creates a rift between the duo, which are cleared later. After another love triangle involving Laxmi whose father helps Murali financially to go to London to pursue further studies, Murali loses his eyesight in a laboratory accident. Anuradha nurses him back to good health, and his eyesight is restored. All's well that ends well.

Which was the very case with 'Aradhana', as the beginning and the middle were definitely not without their share of troubles. Prominent film producer BN Reddy was shown the rushes of the movie, and he said that a movie with a romantic hero like ANR losing his eyesight will never work. Well, even experts get it wrong. The movie went on to become a great success.

Apart from ANR-Savithri, other characters also had important roles to play in the movie. Like the role of the Sahukar, played by Garikipati Rajarao. He lost a lot of money with the movie 'Puttillu' which introduced two actors-Jamuna and Allu Ramalingiah and took to acting in movies. Rajasree had a miniscule role in this movie, but later went on to become an established actor.

Jhansi, Kalyani and Rajeshwari were cast in the roles of medical students. Jhansi acted in movies like 'Sankarabharanam' and produced many movies later on, Kalyani went on to become an established dancer while Rajeshwari is the mother of the ever-popular Sridevi.

Director V. Madhusudhana Rao
(Later known as 'Victory' Madhusudhana Rao)
The comedy in the movie had a purpose. The drama was intense (and overdone, like most movies those days) so to provide relief to the viewer, every intense scene would be followed by a comic interlude. Relangi's 'Dingutaka' became slang while his comedy with Girija generated many a laugh. They even had two songs picturized on them. Savithri had two songs picturized on her, while ANR, the lead, had only ONE song on him! This movie blatantly defied conventions.

The music by Saluri Rajeswara Rao was a highlight in this movie. 'Naa Hrudayam Lo Nidurinche Cheli' danced its way into people's hearts. Sri Sri wrote this song, which took everyone by surprise. When asked who rests in his heart, he promptly replied 'Communism'. Incidentally, the song shows ANR playing the piano. The close-up shots of him playing the piano were actually done by Saluri's elder son. Definitely the first 'Fingers Dupe' ever.

There was a craze for just one song in color in a B&W movie around that time, and 'Oh Mamayya' was shot in color in this movie. It was shot in the Mysore Zoo Park. The song 'Vennela Loni' was inspired from the Hindi song 'Chand Sogaya' in Khwaja Ahmed Abbas's movie, 'Rahi' (1953).

This was the first movie where Madhusudana Rao directed ANR. This combination went on to become one of the most successful combinations of that era. In spite of BN Reddy's discouraging statement, the producers carried on work as opposed to dropping the idea or shelving the movie. ANR had even given dates to re-shoot but the producers were convinced, and this conviction paid off, as 'Aradhana' became a trendsetter of sorts.