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NTR's Jewel - Seetharama Kalyanam (1961)
None of the Telugus can forget NTR for his portrayal of Ravana and Galipenchala Narasimha Rao, the great musician, for his composition of the song, 'Sri Seetharamula Kalyanamu Chootamu Rarandi..' - both in the movie 'Seetharama Kalyanam'. Ever fresh, loved by every generation, the song and the tune stand as a symbol of the greatness of the music directors of the olden days.
NTR's brother Trivikrama Rao and brother-in-law Atluri Pundarikakshaiah produced great films with artistic values. Though they could not make them financially sound, they certainly attracted thousands of admirers for the actors and won popularity and great honors for the makers. Among them, films like 'Jayasimha' and 'Panduranga Mahathyam' ran for about a hundred days. In the days that followed NTR planned to produce 'Seetharama Kalyanam'. Five months prior to these preparations he realized that the film 'Bhukailas' would be remembered by the cine-goers for its story, the artistes' great performance and the other aspects of the film. The movie showed NTR in a new role, in the character of Ravanasura. This perhaps led him to produce 'Seetharama Kalyanam' and to play the same role in this film too. With the grand success of 'Mayabazar', NTR felt encouraged to do mythological roles to enthrall the audience. His dreams of making a mark for himself in mythological roles were fulfilled in the movies mentioned above.
When NTR announced his intention to play Ravanasura in 'Seetharama Kalyanam', his brother was against it, since, NTR, by that time had impressed the audience in the role of Krishna. He wanted NTR to play Rama. But the story demanded that Rama should be very young and Ravana, mature. So he proved right in taking up the role of Ravana. He wanted a fresh face for the role of Rama. In those days, Harnath, a charming young man, was a new comer to the field. Fortunately he met NTR and the latter booked him in his new film. Thus the new and good-looking face of Harnath appeared to the audience in the character of Rama. Shobhanbabu and Kommineni Seshagiri Rao played Laxmana and Bharatha respectively in the film while B Sarojadevi played Mandodari. Audience applauded both Harnath and NTR for their grand performance.
In those days producers were not satisfied with the available artistes and talent. They always looked for faces that suited the characters in the movies they wanted to make. Thus NTR and his brother found a beautiful girl Mani who had already appeared in a group dance in the film 'Rani Ratnaprabha'. NTR gave the girl another and better opportunity as Seetha in 'Seetharama Kalyanam'. Mani who appeared as Mani in the titles of 'Seetharama Kalyanam' later was to be known as Geetanjali, and rose to be a talented heroine.
An interesting thing about the film is that the great TG Kamaladevi gave voice to Geetanjali and Sarojadevi's voice was also dubbed. You can see the role of Surphanaka in the film played by Geetanjali's elder sister Swarna.
Even after fifty years, this new fastbeat generation too listens to the tunes of the film. Especially the song 'Sri Seetharamula Kalyanamu..' has become a part and parcel of Telugu social life and at every nook and corner of the state the song can be on the record player, cassette or in the humming of a layman. This shows the strength and beauty of the film. It is a product of ever fresh art. Hence the producers and directors these days look to film personalities of the olden days as their guides and gurus. Though the great musician Saloori Rajeswara Rao for obvious reasons couldn't continue in that team, it led to the discovery of another stalwart Galipenchala. This film will for ever be remembered as NTR's most favorite one and his understanding of the promise of the up and coming artists.
More about the film:
- Seetharama Kalyanam is NTR's first directorial film and 71st film as an actor.
- Ravikanth Nagaich's first film as a cinematographer.
- NTR's name doesn't appear in the title credits as a director.
- After watching the film, Jagadguru Kanchi Peetadhipati, Sri Paramacharya Chandrasekhara Saraswati Swami blessed NTR with the title 'Vishwa Vikyatha Natasarvabouma'.
- Although Harnath's 'Maa Inti Mahalakshmi' (1959) was released earlier, 'Seetarama Kalyanam' is his debut vehicle.
- Nandamuri Lakshmaiah Chowdary and Venkatravamma, parents of NTR, appeared on screen for the first and last time before the title credits.