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Swarga Seema (1945)

APK | November 05, 2007

Bhanumathi in Swarga Seema

An actress par excellence, the multi-talented Bhanumathi made her debut in Varavikrayam.
Bhanumathi began her career with Varavikrayam (1939) and acted in a few movies afterwards. Then she married Ramakrishna, and quit movies. Though she was still residing in Madras, she and her husband were in fact planning to go back to their village. Upon BN Reddy's insistence, she returned to filmdom to star in Swarga Seema along with Nagayya. She agreed reluctantly, and thought it would be a one-off thing and did not count it as a comeback. But as luck would have it, the offers poured in, and she stayed back for good, entertaining cinegoers for years with her multiple talents.

Swarga Seema's plot synopsis: Murthy is a publisher, married happily to Kalyani and the proud father of their children. He watches a street play in his father-in-law's village, and notices the beautiful Subbalaxmi in that troupe. He advises Subbalaxmi's father to take her to Madras where she would have the potential to become a big theatre artiste. He even refers them to a theatre company. The father-daughter duo travel to Madras, and are not left disappointed-Subbalaxmi is offered the lead role and changes her name to Sujatha. Murthy falls for Sujatha's charms and neglects his family. Kalyani fends for her children by taking up small tailoring works and leading a hard life. Slowly but surely, Murthy realizes his flaw and returns to his family.

The inspirations behind the movie were Bernard Shaw's 'Pygmalion' (the transformation from Subbalaxmi to Sujatha) and the Hollywood movie Blood and Sand. Bhanumathi was asked to watch the movie and read the play, from which to take pointers to work with. She frankly admitted to having imitated the actress in Blood and Sand. She was also conscious about her dancing skills, but the dance master Vedantham Raghavaiah took care of that. After this experience, she learnt dance with a vengeance. She was pregnant for part of the one year long shooting of Swarga Seema, so they had to manage with her close-up shots for some of the scenes. Her acting skills and the metamorphosis from Subbalaxmi to Sujatha were liked and appreciated by one and all.

Nagayya was Vauhini's favorite lead, having starred in the first six movies under that banner. For Swarga Seema, in fact, Vauhini Pictures got into distribution while they started Vauhini Productions for film production. This was the first movie under Vauhini Productions. Jayamma, a Kannadiga actress, plays the wronged wife Kalyani. She acted in four Telugu movies including Gulebakavali Katha, Swarga Seema, Tyagayya and Brahmaratham. BN Reddy made the actress rehearse for days on end for the role of Kalyani. Mudigonda, the production manager for this movie, doubled up as Sujatha's father. Nagi Reddy's children acted as Nagayya's children in the movie.

Chakrapani wrote the dialogues for Dharmapatni in 1941, kick starting his career. Later he went back to printing and publishing. He came back with a bang with Swarga Seema. Later he was going back to his native Tenali. But he was stopped by the Vauhini team, and he and Nagi Reddy started Vijaya Productions which gave many memorable classics of Telugu cinema.

Ghantasala sang the playback for Chadalavada Narayana Rao and got a payment of Rs. 110/-.
The cinematographer was Marcus Bartley, who debuted with this movie in Telugu. His first movie was Thiruvalluvar in Tamil in 1941, after which he worked in two more Tamil movies. He was quite choosy about his movies even though the offers poured in. So this movie marks the re-entry of Bhanumathi, the Telugu debut of Marcus Bartley and even Chakrapani's comeback.

This movie marks another great legendary debut. All actors sang their own songs because playback was not really the norm those days. But Chadalavada Narayana Rao, who plays Naren in the movie, needed someone to sing his lines. Samudrala got a boy to sing for him; it was a duet with Bhanumathi. Though he was nervous, he sang with confidence and even though his name does not appear in the titles, there was no looking back for him. The erstwhile chorus singer even got a payment of Rs. 110/-. And Vauhini had discovered another legend-Ghantasala.

Swarga Seema had songs like 'Oho Ho Pavurama' and 'Madhura Vennela Reyi' which became huge hits. Commercially too, it was Vauhini's best till then. It ran for 100 days not only in Telugu-speaking areas but even in Madras and Bangalore. In fact, a theatre in Bangalore made the maximum money for Vauhini, where it ran for 200 days at a stretch. This movie is remembered for all the debuts and comebacks it staged and for the lovely music and performances.