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Nostalgia - Raktha Sambhandam (1962)
APK | November 09, 2006
Cast: NTR, Kantha Rao, Relangi, Ramana Reddy, KVS Sharma, Prabhakar Reddy, YV Raju, Savithri, Devika, Suryakantham, Girija and Others.
Art: Krishna Rao.
Cinematography: C. Nageswara Rao.
Dialogues & Screenplay: Mullapudi Venkata Ramana.
Editing: NS Prakasham.
Lyrics: Arudra, Narayana Reddy, Kosaraju, Dasarathy & Anisetti.
Singers: Ghantasala, PB Srinivas, Susheela & Janaki.
Direction: V. Madhusudhana Rao.
Producer(s): Sundarlal Nahta & Dhundy.
Banner: Rajyalakshmi Productions.
Release Year: 1962.
Sister sentiment, little sister of a doting elder brother, sister's lover causing discord between the two-how many movies have we seen with a plot or a sub-plot like that? So many that the names are not recollected immediately. But one movie with that theme started off the trend in the 1960s-the unforgettable 'Raktha Sambhandam', starring the legendary romantic pairing of NTR and Savithri as siblings, directed by V. Madhusudhana Rao. NTR-Savithri as brother and sister, tragic ending, a theme not experimented in Telugu cinema before-all these factors put the movie into risky avenues, but the movie went on to become one of the biggest successes of that year, completing a silver jubilee.
|Director V. Madhusudhana Rao|
(Later known as 'Victory' Madhusudhana Rao)
The original (obviously, there is always an original lurking behind), was called 'Paasa Malar' starring Shivaji Ganeshan. When producer Dhundy, impressed with the story approached his muse ANR, who promptly refused, saying that people won't accept his on-screen flame Savithri as his sister. NTR, on the other hand, had no objections to this unusual casting. In fact, he was the only leading actor to have done mythology, folk-lore, historical and social dramas all in the span of one year. No wonder-for NTR, experimenting and versatility as an actor meant a lot. (Some new-age 'heroes' stuck in their so-called images can take a cue from him).
Andhra Sachitra Vara Patrika's in-house reviewer, Mullapudi Venkata Ramana, was asked to pen the screenplay and dialogues for the Telugu version. NTR expressed his doubts over this, stating that he was essentially someone whose forte was comedy. To this, Dhundy had words of wisdom to quote-"Any person who can write comedy can understand all other emotions intricately as well". And Dhundy's gamble won, as people who watched both the versions claim they liked the Telugu version better. Mullapudi took some liberties and changed the script a little, including erasing a song completely and adding new dimensions of his own. The most significant contribution he made to the screenplay was the merging of the separate comedy track of the Tamil version into the main story.
The story in a nutshell, for the uninformed: Orphans Raju (NTR) and Radha (Savithri) are siblings who dote on each other. Raju works in a factory which closes down, so he starts a small-scale industry which flourishes and leads him into a lot of money. His friend Anand (Kantha Rao) falls for Radha, and though Raju hesitates initially, he gives his blessing to the couple soon enough. Anand's aunt Kantam (Suryakantham, who else?) causes rifts in the relationships, and after many trials and tribulations, Raju and Radha, the inseparable duo, die together.
|Mullapudi Venkata Ramana|
(One of the iconic duo of the Telugu films Bapu-Ramana)
If tears were shed, and hearts were moved, it was but natural. The movie completed its silver jubilee and Dhundy's risk paid off. Ghantasala's songs, two of them borrowed from the original with tunes by Vishwanathan Rammurthy, were a super success. The song 'Bangaru Bomma Raveme' is a part of wedding songs in Telugu households even today. Andhra Sachitra Vara Patrika's yearly ballot voted Raktha Sambhandam to be the best movie, best director, best actor among other awards.
Other highlights in the movie were the dialogues which aimed directly at the heartstrings, in lieu with the heaviness in tragedy of those times, where, fresh from the theatre circles, tears and laughter were exaggerated many times over. Mullapudi penned dialogues such as 'Ninnu vadili velladam ledamma, illu vadili veluthunannu', and when NTR's wife (played by Devika) dies, he exclaims in agony, 'Malli pasi biddanu penche bharam nadaindi'. Relangi and Ramana Reddy's Laurel-Hardy act got accolades, with the famous dialogue by Reddy, 'Eyana chikkadam, nenu balavadam rendu jariginatte'. Mullapudi learnt so much and benefited so much from this single movie that he even dedicated his book 'Cine Ramaneeyam' to his mentor Dhundy.
There were others who benefited and got a firm foothold with this flick. Bapu, for starters, worked in the publicity department in those times. Assistant cinematographer N. Venkataratnam made 'Yamagola' with NTR later, while actor 'Senior' Sriranjani's son and co-director for this movie, Mangalagiri Mallikarjuna Rao made 'Gudachari 116' with Krishna.
|The famous still from the film|
(Now a part of the 'Bommarillu' logo)
This movie set trends, broke existing notions about repeated pairings, experimented to a certain extent and risked it-only to reap the benefits. It boosted the career of all the actors and the technicians and the producers laughed all the way to the banks. Many movies did try to ape this theme but never succeeded in beating this one. One last word-there is a famous still of the movie, which was used by Ashoka Sandal Powder (whereas cosmetic companies, especially those days, preferred to use only women to endorse their products) and is the banner for YVS Chowdary's production house, 'Bommarillu'. Talk about rocketing a star to the heights of glamour! This tragedy had only one message to deliver, which it does so with élan, which is 'Blood is thicker than water'.