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Palletoori Pilla (1950)

APK | September 11, 2007

NTR in Palletoori Pilla

Palletoori Pilla was legendary NTR's first film as a hero.
Bugatha Venkata Subba Rao or BA Subba Rao, as he later rechristened himself, worked for the railways. He was dabbling in theatre as a hobby, but he soon quit his cushy job for the love of the arch lights. He landed up in Madras, where he got to play a comic role in one movie.

After that, a friendship with the Raja of Mirzapuram ensured that he got to direct a movie, without assisting anyone before this. His childhood friend and musician Adi Narayana Rao composed the music, wrote a song and even helped develop the story. The story was based on the English play, Fijaro by Richard Sherton. The movie was titled 'Palletoori Pilla'.

The story goes thus: NTR's photographs, which were with LV Prasad, fell into the hands of Subba Rao. A call later, NTR landed up with the lead role in the movie. So that he gets used to the camera, the makers gave him a small role in 'Mana Desam', that of a villainous inspector. As a lead, Palletoori Pilla is NTR's first flick.

Anjali Devi and ANR were not newcomers, having done several movies till then. While Subba Rao told him he liked his nose and his gait, Adi Narayana Rao said that 'He looks good even without makeup.'

But not everyone was happy with this choice. LV Prasad for one warned Subba Rao about the risks of casting a newcomer. Elapati Raghuramayya was considered for playing Vasanth, but the fight scenes deterred him.

ANR, who had already proven his acting and action skills in movies such as Keelu Gurram, was a worthy choice the makers then made. People spoke about ANR accepting to play a part right in the same league as that of a newbie. Anjali Devi, an established actress, was also asked why she agreed to be cast opposite a debutante.

Anjali Devi was paired with NTR in several films after Palletoori Pilla.
But all doubts vanished once they saw the new lead work. NTR's first ever shot as a lead actor required him to be slapped by Anjali Devi, with many retakes, of course. For an action sequence, he refused to let the director employ a dupe and fought with a violent bull himself. Two fractures later, NTR was still shooting, wearing full sleeves to cover the bandages.

Tapi Chanakya, who later went on to wield the megaphone himself, assisted the director in this movie. TV Raju was the assistant composer. Subba Rao started BAS Productions after the success of this movie. He made several movies such as Raju Peda, Chenchu Laxmi, Bheeshma and others. Palletoori Pilla was remade into Hindi as Insaaniyat (1955), starring Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Bina Roy, by Gemini Pictures. Even in Hindi, it tasted success.

During the shooting, NTR signed two more movies. After the movie was declared a hit, another hit, Sowkar, produced by Nagi Reddy and Chakrapani (Vijaya Productions) was released. BA Subba Rao's confidence in NTR ensured that the Telugu industry did not lose out an actor who was to later become a legend.