March 31st, 2006|
On Roja Movies' Maiden Venture 'Vetagadu'
M. Arjuna Raju and Kanuru Ranjit Kumar together produced some movies. Since then they have been close friends with director Raghavendra Rao and producer Aswini Dutt. When they (KRR and Aswini Dutt) were making movies with NTR, they became familiar with him. As NTR fans all the friends had plans of making a movie with NTR, but they were a bit nervous about telling NTR about it. But top their surprise he reacted favorably to their idea, after knowing that the director was going to be Raghavendra Rao.
At first the legendary actor hesitated to act opposite 16 years young Sri Devi who had acted his granddaughter in 'Badi Pantulu,' but agreed to it finally. They were hesitant about telling him about the sequence involving a tiger in the movie. But when he knew that it was a part of the movie, he told them to proceed. These two factors contributed a lot to the success of the movie. This, titled 'Vetagadu,' the first movie of Roja Movies turned out to be super hit. Raju still says that the popularity of the movie owes entirely to NTR.
On Veteran Artiste Dhulipala
Veteran artiste Dhulipala's ambition to become a lawyer remained unfulfilled. His stint as a lawyer's clerk helped him to pick up English. His initiation into acting began with his doing women's roles including those of Nalini, Satyabhama's maid, Radhika in Chintamani, and Mallamamba in Bobbiliyuddham – all these brought him great name. But the role that assured him of a lasting place as an actor is that of Duryodhana, and it won him a number of awards. Once BA Subba Rao, Rajanala, Kantha Rao, Vedantam Raghavaiah and S. Varalakshmi happened to watch him acting the role of Roshanara. S. Varalakshmi, unable to control her appreciation for his action, shouting in wonder, "if there is an actor, here is one," is something that Dhulipala always remembers with great pleasure.
BA Subbarao introduced him to the silver screen by offering Duryodhana's role in 'Bheeshma'. NTR donning the roles of Duryodhana and Krishna in 'Sri Krishna Pandaviyam' sent word to Dhulipala, and when he came, placed the script in his hand and told him that he would be doing the role of Sakuni in the Telugu and Tamil versions of the movie. He became identified with the role of Sakuni and became familiar as Sakuni Mama.
During shooting he used to get his meal from home. He followed strictly the ritual of daily worship and led a disciplined life. Giving up all luxuries he has returned to his native Guntur and built Anjaneyaswamny Temple, and handed it over to Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. He has renounced worldly life. He spends the whole time only in the ashram. He has a daughter and two sons. He speaks very little and his wife Varalakshmamma lives alone.
March 26th, 2006
BN Reddy Who Adored Spectators' Hearts With Jasmine Garlands
Born a farmer's child at Kothapalli in Pulivendla Taluk of Kadapa district, BN Reddy had his schooling at Shantinikethan, and that created in him a deep interest in fine arts. As a student, he acted several roles in a number of plays.
BN Reddy started his film career as co-producer and scriptwriter for Rohini Pictures' 'Grihalakshmi'. Along with Narayana Swamy, Dasu and Sekhar he founded Vauhini Pictures. His movies Vandemataram, Sumangali, Devata, were a big draw and celebrated silver jubilee not only in Andhra but also in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. 'Swarga Seema' was a grand success in the whole of the south. 'Malleswari' brought him unprecedented fame. It was certain entry in all international film festivals and ran for a hundred and five days in China! It is the first ever-Telugu movie to be shown in so many countries.
His 'Bangaru Papa' and Satyajit Ray's 'Pather Panchali' competed with each other for the national award, though finally 'Bangaru Papa' was placed second after 'Pather Panchali'. 'Rangula Ratnam' was another movie produced and directed by BN Reddy. He distinguished himself as the maker of movies with high artistic values, edifying as well as entertaining. He accorded a lot of importance in his movies to literature and music. He was honored with Dada Saheb Phalke award in 1986. The Tamil Nadu Government honored him with the title 'Kalaimamani,' and Sri Venkateswara University with honorary doctorate. BN who adorned the hearts of the Telugus with jasmine chains left for 'Swarga Seema' on November 8, 1977.
Gopichand on the editorial staff of Prajamitra that Ramabrahmam edited was born on 8 September, 1910. He was the co-director for Ramabrahmam's 'Raithu Bidda' and also for 'Maya Lokam'. This earned him name as a gifted writer. His dialogues for 'Grihalakshmi' impressed everyone. On coming to know that Gopichand had the story of 'Lakshamma Katha' Mirzapuram Raja sent for him and entrusted him with the directorship of the movie. Just at the same time, Ghantasala Balaramaiah too produced the movie, 'Sri Lakshmma Katha' with Anjali Devi in the lead role. Krishnaveni starred as the heroine in Gopichnad's production. Gopichand's movie was successful.
Two other movies that followed it 'Parentalu', 'Priyuralu' however, bit the dust, though by now he had become famous as a writer of caliber. He then joined the All India Radio in Hyderabad. He scripted 'Kalimilemulu' and Annapurna's 'Chaduvukunna Ammayilu'. A rationalist in his youth, he turned spiritual in his later days, and died of a heart attack in February 1962. Though he had a very brief career in the film world, he left his impression on it. His style of writing assures him of a permanent place in the Telugu film field.
March 24th, 2006
Born to the histrionic tradition of Kuchipudi, Raghavaiah right from his boyhood acted in a number of plays and developed a flair for acting. He would act minor roles just for the fun of it. While directing 'Devadasu,' he used to show the artistes how to act their roles. He could remember exactly which dialogue followed which, and point out to artistes the words they missed in their dialogues. He had such a wonderful memory. He started by being the assistant to director Ramakrishna. He knew thoroughly every department of film production, and often tended to overdo things. Trolley shots were his favorites and used them a little too often too. Though not highly educated, he had talent that made up for his lack of such education.
Having been a dancer and being good at editing he used to take dance shots from very good angles. Coming as he did from a stage background he tried to attain perfection by dramatizing sequences. Stree Sahasam, Devadasu, Annadata, Anarkali, Bhaleramudu, Suvarna Sundari, Runanubhandam, Rahasyam, is his movies in which ANR starred. ANR starred in Tamil Stree Sahasam and Devadasu too, again under Raghavaiah's direction.
AVM Productions Began As Saraswati Sound Productions
AVM is the abbreviation for AV Meiyappan Chettiar who has become famous as the grand old man of the Tamil movie. Meiyappan Chettiar from Karaikudi in Ramanathapuram district started his career as the proprietor of a department store. On contract with the German firm Odeon he used to produce and market gramophone records in Mount Road, Madras. He then started Saraswathi Sound Productions. His first movie venture 'Alli Arjuna' was a flop, and he ended up with a loss of eighty thousand rupees. The next venture under the changed banner, 'Ratnavali' was again a flop. Then followed the next flop 'Nandakumar'. Then he founded Pragathi Pictures and made 'Bhukailas'. It was a grand success in all Telugu speaking areas. The movies 'Vasantha Sena,' and his own directorial venture 'Sabhapathi' were successful.
Then he built the AVM Studio in Karaikudi and made the movie 'Nam Iruvar'. He shifted the studio to Madras in 1948. The movie released in October 1952 in Tamilnadu with the title 'Parasakthi' was a resounding success. The hero of the movie Sivaji Ganesan and the dialogue writer Karunanidhi became superstars in the Tamil cinema with this movie. It is through AVM that Rajkumar got his break in Kannada in the movie 'Bidara Kannappa', and Kamal Hassan as a child artiste in 'Kalathur Kannamma'. AVM secured unprecedented success for its movie 'Bhukailas' starring ANR and NTR. AVM's other hits in Telugu include Naadi Adajanme, Server Sundaram, Letamanasulu, Avekallu, Ramu, Chittichellelu, Puttinillu Mettinillu, Nomu, Puja, Punnaminagu, Siksha, etc. Meyyappan Chettiar died in 1979. AVM has produced 167 movies in all in all languagaes. Fifty of them have celebrated silver jubilee by running for twenty-five weeks. Thirty of them showed for a hundred days.
March 19th, 2006
The Maiden Movie Of KV Reddy As An Actor
Very few know that one of the most influential directors of the Telugu movie KV Reddy worked as a production executive for some time. Besides, he acted some minor roles to fulfill his desire of appearing on the screen. He appeared on the screen for the first time in Vandemataram. He acted as Nagaiah's classmate in the movie. He is seen in the movie as one of the jovial, merry going friends of Nagaiah. Following this he acted in Sumangali, Devatha and Swargaseema.
Lighting Those Days
So bad were lighting facilities those days that the actors had to stay where they were until the shot was completed. In Vandemataram, Nagaiah, having to tie the tali round the neck of his bride in the movie, had to bend down and face the camera in the act of tying the tali. The shot took half an hour and Nagaiah had to stay in the posture for the whole of half an hour.
March 16th, 2006
Dr. Akkineni And His Singing 'Oho Charuseela'
Though he did no more than humming some stray tunes in the beginning, Nageswara Rao began to cultivate his voice seriously when he decided to make acting his career. He learnt from Y. Bhadrachari how to sing verses and songs and how to match expression to them. Doing the role of Tara in Kanakatara, he trained under Moturu and Veeraraghavaiah to sing songs. He sang Chali Chali Vituda in Vipranarayana after practicing it under the guidance of Buddhiraju Ramamurthy. He learnt from Pendyala how to sing systematically ragams, ragamalikas, etc., and he sang them to the acclaim of all.
His other notable songs are Mandulunnai Babu Mandulunnai in Mayalokam, Cheliya Kanarava, and Rama Chalinka Nee Beeramul. With TG Kamala he sang the duet Chalo Chalo Vayyari Shikari for the film Mugguru Marateelu. His was one of the voices that sang the title song, Jai Jai Bhairava Trisula Dhari – a group song. Oho Charuseela for Palnati Yuddham, Manava Nizambu Manalenaitini, and the duets Chalura Vagalu, Cheliya Kanarava for Balaraju and the bit song Meeku Meere Maaku Meme in Missamma. That was the last of them all. Dr. Nageswara Rao sang no more. Ghantasala often asked Nageswara Rao why he stopped singing when he could sing so well.
NTR As Siva Only Twice
Though he did many other mythological roles like Krishna, Rama and Anjaneya, NTR's reluctance to do the role of Siva has a reason. He acted the role first in 'Dakshayagnam'. Released in 1962 it was a success. On 23 May the same year his eldest son Ramakrishna died in an accident. That upset the whole family. With his well wishers ascribing the death to his acting the role of Siva, NTR decided not to take up the role any more. After the incident, the name of the NTR banner was changed to Ramakrishna NAT banner. Six years later, under KV Reddy's direction he acted as Siva in Vijaya Productions' Uma Chandi Gowri Sankarula Katha.
March 14th, 2006
The Emergence Of Sarada Films
Vasireddy lost heavily with his remaking of Hindi 'Neera Aur Nanda' as 'Ahuthi' in Telugu. Sri Sri made his debut with this movie. Vasireddy and the production manager for long of Pratibha Films, so closely associated with the concern that he came to be known as Pratibha Venkata Sundara Sivarama Sastry, had been very close friends, and they had a common friend in Navayuga films distribution company chief Katragadda Srinivasa Rao. Srinivasa Rao offered to help them financially if they wanted to make a movie.
That resulted in the incorporation of Sarada Films, which produced as its first venture 'Jayabheri' under the direction of P. Pullaiah. Inspired by the showbiz legend V. Santharam's 'Matwala Shayar Ramjoshi' under the direction of his guru Baburao Painter, in 1947, P. Pullaiah happily agreed to be director. The result was 'Jayabheri' (1959) starring Akkineni and Anjali both in Telugu and Tamil. It became well known for its literary and musical excellence and as a movie with a message.
Padandi Munduku – The Movie That Initiated Subsidides For Movies
The then Chief Minister of the State Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy announced a cash award of Rs. 50,000/- for the movie as a film that promoted patriotism among the audiences. Afraid that people might say that the film got the award because Kongara Jaggaiah, the producer of the film, was a congressman then, the government announced the subsidy for every movie. Thus began the subsidy for movies with 'Padandi Munduku' (1962).
March 5th, 2006
Gollapudi Maruthi Rao
A valuable asset that Visakhapatnam has contributed to the Telugu film industry is Gollapudi Maruthi Rao. He is among the most important talents of the Telugu movie. 'Anoraniyan mahato mahivan' – these Vedic words apply to Gollapudi. Gollapudi has scripted ten movies and wrote dialogues for 53 movies and screen play for ten other movies – a record that none else has surpassed. Besides, he has acted in 250 movies. Annapurna Pictures' 'Atmagowravam' was the first movie to be scripted by Gollapudi along with the popular Telugu novelist Yaddanapudi Sulochana Rani. This has the distinction of being the first movie to win the Nandi Award after its inception by the government. It has been the wish of many that Gollapudi Yaddanapudi formed a popular pair like Shanker Jaikishen, and Laksnmikant Pyarelal.
About The Song 'Telugu Veera Levara' In Alluri Sita Ramaraju
The song 'Telugu Veera Levara' is among the last songs of Ghantasala. Just as Balu proved a fitting accompanying voice to Ghantasala for a song in Ekaveera, so did Ramakrishna for this song in this movie. The gladdening piece of information is that Sri Sri won the Government of India best lyric award.
The national award was announced as ten thousand rupees, but the actual amount paid was only five thousand rupees, that too in the form of national savings bonds, maturing and to be encashed five years later. Sri Sri was not the one to wait that long, so he pledged for three thousand rupees in State Bank of India. Later however, as the interest piled up and Sri Sri had to pay back the bank a staggering ten thousand rupees! In contrast to his call in the song to the Telugu hero to rise and roar like a lion, he fell into the debt trap like a mouse!
February 28th, 2006
Jayasudha's Is The Key Role In 'Premabhishekam'
Jayasudha was asked to do a role in an Annapurna Studios' movie. She immediately agreed. In the media it came out that Nageswara Rao was acting with Sridevi in the movie. Jayasudha was confused. She was scheduled to act in the movie only for six days, and the media had come out with the news that Sridevi was acting in the movie, so Jayasudha called director Dasari to know the exact position. Responding to media persons' questions she replied that she would do any role, even a prostitute's, if that was what Dasari wanted. Very surprisingly when she met Dasari and asked him about the nature of her role, he told her that it was a prostitute's role! Jayasudha burst out in laughter. She had not known till then her role! And here was the prostitute's role she said she was prepared to do. She explained to Dasari that she laughed because of her earlier statement to media persons about her readiness to act any role, even if that be the role of a prostitute. "What does this mean? Sridevi the heroine? My role to be shot only for six days? How will my fans receive me in the role of a prostitute? What will happen to my image?" She never raised any of these questions. "The director feels that I suit the role and has asked me to do it." This was how she thought of it and very happily and immediately accepted the role. Though in a position to reject it, she did not reject the offer. Dasari later observed that because she had done the role, it was elevated.
Nicknamed Andhra Kamal Hassan, Narasimha Raju rose to the heights of stardom with his movies, Needaleni Adadi, Turpu Padamara, Kanyakumari, Idekkadi Nyayam, etc. When things were thus going great for him, he got entangled in a controversy as a result of over enthusiasm, and that affected his career very badly. He asked the producers for a role in 'Satyanarayana Vratha Mahatyam,' but the cast having been already decided, he was offered the hero's role in 'Jaganmohini'. This movie brought about a definite turn in his career. He was considered the folk hero of the generation next to that of NTR and Kantha Rao. 'Jaganmohini' (1978) assured Narasimha Raju of a secure place in the Telugu movie industry for some years.
February 26th, 2006
The Silver Signature On The Silver Screen
Savithri was born on Dec 6, 1936 at Chirravuru village to Nissankara Guravaiah and Subhadramma. She had a minor role in 'Samsaram' and a dance bit in 'Patala Bhairavi'. Her role as a second heroine in 'Pelli Chesi Chudu' brought about a definite turn in her career. 'Devadasu' firmly established her in the film world. She proved herself as an actor of talent in Missamma, Maya Bazaar, Ardhangi, Kanya Sulkam, Devatha, and Naadi Adajanme. Her nearly 300 movies include some Hindi movies in addition to Telugu and Tamil movies. There was a time when on one day as many as twenty one of her movies used to hit the screen. Savithri is the only heroine to be considered number one in Telugu and Tamil movies as well.
She loved and married Gemini Ganesan in 1956, and became the mother of Vijaya Chamundeswari and Satish. She received the honor of Kalaimamani from the Tamil Nadu Government, and the title, Nata Siromani from Andhra Yuvathi Mandali. She was good at direction too. Her directorial ventures include, Chinnari Paapalu, Chiranjeevi, Matru Devatha, Vinta Samsaram and Praptam. Her financial slide started with her producing 'Praptam' in Tamil, and after her acting in 'Mooga Manasulu'.
The tragedy was that she had to live in a small rented house during her last days. She sought relief from her troubles, financial and otherwise, from drink and morphine. The plump Savithri turned lean and lanky in her last days. Her death came after 18 months of coma. She could not act in her real life and cheat people. Her life is a lesson to all actors who trust others too much.
'Mooga Manasulu' That Captured Outdoor Charm On The Screen
It can be safely said that 'Mooga Manasulu' marked the beginning of technically better movies. Movies till then had been mostly made indoors. Adurthi Subbarao's eagerness to make a movie reflecting the range and variety of nature's charm could be seen in every shot of the movie, 'Mooga Manasulu'. The music that is a feast to the ears, outdoor shots that are a feast to the eyes, a storyline that touches the depths of the heart and the dialogues that bring out the theme effectively combined in excellent proportion to make the movie an all time great. With the Godavari providing the background, the efforts of Savithri, Nageswara Rao, Jamuna and Gummadi on the screen, and those of Adurthi, Athreya, Mullapudi and Mahadevan, took the movie to the greatest heights of artistry and technical excellence. There had been till then any number of movies on the theme of rebirths, but none of them pierced into the hearts of the average audiences as did 'Mooga Manasulu'. It could certainly satisfy audiences of all classes, both the mass and the class. 'Mooga Manasulu' is a trailblazer for the other movies of this kind in Telugu.
February 25th, 2006
Pranam Khareedu - The First Released Chiranjeevi Movie
Kranthikumar had a look at the stills of Chiranjeevi through Prem Kumar, assistant director of 'Punadirallu'. Before 'Punadirallu' was released, Chiranjeevi had the offer of a role in 'Pranam Khareedu'. As the release of 'Punadirallu' was delayed, 'Pranam Khareedu' was released and became the first among Chiranjeevi starrers to hit the screen.
Not Draupadi But Nartanasala
The Rajyam Pictures successful venture, 'Nartanasala' enhanced the prestige of the Telugu movie at the international level. At first the producers thought of naming the film 'Draupadi' and wanted to show the part of the Mahabharatam starting from the swayamvaram (the bride picking up the bridegroom from a number of suitors) and going on till the end. Later, however, they gave up the idea, and thought it better to confine themselves to Virata Parvam, and titled the movie 'Nartanasala'. Released on Oct 11, 1963, Nartanasala was a great success and went on to win the President's award and the State Government's Nandi Award.
February 23rd, 2006
Gummadi's Striking A New Path
Gummadi took on the role of Dharmaraju in Sri Krishnarjuna Yuddham. His appearance in the movie is very brief limited to two or three scenes. Director KV Reddy had a fancy for Gummadi doing the role, and requested him specially for it. KV Reddy sent for Gummadi. As he went to the office of Jayanthi Movies, KV Reddy told him that he would be cast as Dharmaraju, that he would be shooting for a few days, and that KV Reddy wouldn't be able to pay the remuneration Gummadi would usually get. He left the decision to Gummadi. Gummadi was in a fix. He was then charging fifteen to twenty thousand rupees and here was KV Reddy not going to offer that amount. Gummadi thought over it for a week and hit upon an idea. He at once went to KV Reddy and asked him to pay so much per day for all the days of shooting. The amount per day was fixed as one thousand rupees. Perhaps this kind of day wise payment for artistes, quite common now, started with Gummadi. He followed this mode of payment for all his movies afterwards. As days went by he began to charge more and more per day till the remuneration reached Rs. 5000 per day.
About Talluri Rameshwari
Talluri Rameshwari is beautiful in a quaint manner. She reminds one of Kanchamala of the old. After her debut in 'Sitamahalakshmi,' where she was paired with Chandramohan, she migrated to the Hindi screen. She might have become a number one heroine like Padmini, Vyjayanthimala, Waheeda Rehman, Hemamalini, Rekha, Jayaprada, Sri Devi, etc., but for an accident, which left her with an eye defect. She gradually faded. It is really unfortunate. With 'Nijam' and 'Dhairyam', both directed by Teja, she made a comeback into Telugu once again.
February 20th, 2006
Suryakantham With SV Rangarao
Suryakantham acted as an in-law in Gundamma Katha, as a sister in Charana Dasi, as a mother in Maaya Bazaar, and as a daughter in Atma Bhanduvu. Though famous for her roles as a termagant woman in most of the movies, she was quite gentle in real life. She was very good-natured and full of pity for others in trouble. She was given to enjoying jokes and laughter. She found great pleasure in seeing people eat sweetmeats, which she brought with her whenever she attended shootings. She authored a cookbook too. She was always helpful to people in trouble. She was very sensitive. Once after shooting she fell at the feet of Nagaiah and begged him to excuse her for abusing him in the shooting, though as the script demanded it!
She married Peddibhotla Chalapathi Rao, High Court Judge, in 1950. She came to Madras in 1944. Her first movie began that December. She died decades later on December 17, 1996. December appears to have had some significance in her life.
CSR - The Bridge Between The Stage And The Screen
CSR was born on 11 July, 1907 in Narasaraopeta. His style of singing, dancing and dialogue rendering was special in its own way. At the age of 17, for the first time, he donned the role of Sri Krishna in the play Radha Krishna. Raghuramaiah played the role of Rukmini opposite him. His successful performance as Satyavantudu in Sati Savithri, as Sarangadhara in the play of the same name, as Vijayarama Raju in Bobbili Yuddham, and as Sri Rama in Paduka Pattabhishekam, proved he could act any role with equal ease and talent. He acted the role of Sri Rama for the first time in Hindi in 1933 in the movie Ramadas. For the role of Sri Krishna in Draupadi Vasthrapaharanam, he charged a high remuneration of Rs. 5000. His successful performance could be seen in a number of another movies including Talli Prema, Sumathi, Sri Rama Pattabhishekam, Soudamini, Grihapravesam, Mayalokam, Rojulu Marayi, Anta Manavalle, Ettuku Pai Ettu, Stree Sahasam, Devadasu, Kanyasulkam, Patala Bhairavi, Maya Bazaar, Appuchesi Pappukudu, Mantra Dandam, Rani Ratna Prabha, etc., will always be remembered. He died on Oct 8, 1963 in Madras. Telugu film world without him is often compared to Kailasam without Lord Siva. CSR's style of acting stands out as unique in the film world.
February 18th, 2006
The Unforgettable Chittoor V. Nagaiah
Though drawn to action very early in his youth, journalism attracted him more and he began his career as a journalist. A great lover of classical music, he developed detachment even as a young man, and reciting Lord Sri Rama's keerthanas, he became an inmate of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi's ashramam. His friends, and BN Reddy among them, compelled him to act in movies, and he made his debut in 'Grihalakshmi,' in 1938. BN Reddy prevailed upon Nagaiah to act in the film, as he felt that Nagaiah alone could do the role in which he was cast. Next, he gave Nagaiah the lead role in 'Vande Mataram,' which proved a big hit. Then followed a string of successes including Sumangali, Bhakta Pothana, Swarga Seema, Thyagaiah and Yogi Vemana. His portrayal of the benign characters in these movies won him the praise of one and all. He was the only artiste to claim a remuneration of more than one lakh rupees those days. He married actress Jayamma but was never to be a parent. Being childless he showered a lot of affection on children who saw in him a loving father.
As long as he could manage he led a luxurious life. He owned five houses and maintained two or three cars those days. He fed all the relatives, friends and well-wishers who could be seen thronging his home anytime. The tragedy however was, that in his last days, he had to accept minor roles just for a living. He directed Thyagayya, Na Illu and Bhaktha Ramadasu. He was awarded Padma Sri in 1965. The maharajas of Mysore and Travancore honored him by seating him along with them on their thrones – a rare honor that none others were favored with. He breathed his last on 30 December, 1973.
I Should Have Been Honored Long Ago – Bhanumathi Ramakrishna
"This NTR Memorial Award should have been given to me long ago" – this was the versatile artiste Bhanumathi Ramakrishna's response when the AP State Government honored her with the award in 2001, for her services to the film field. "NTR entered the film field later than I, and he, an eminent actor had a great liking for me. He was a good man and I feel proud to receive an award, even though late, set up in his memory. I am sure that people do feel that Bahnumathi should have been the first to be given the award. That feeling is enough for me," declared the artiste. None can of course deny that she was above all such awards, and that awards cannot measure her talent.
February 15th, 2006
Relangi - The Fountain Of Telugu Humor
Relangi Venkatramaiah who reigned supreme, as a comedian in the Telugu movie world is known more as Relangi than by his full name. He was born on August 8, 1919 in Ravulapadu. His role as Subbisetty in 'Chintamani' (1956) marked a turning point in his career. Reaching Madras towards the end of 1934 he had to struggle a lot to enter the film field. He found a role in C. Pullaiah's 'Anasuya-Dhruva' (1936), and stayed with him for twelve years. He established himself as an actor with a style of his own in KV Reddi's 'Gunasundari Katha' (1949). C. Pullaiah's 'Pakkinti Ammayi' (1953) found him acting as the hero opposite Anjali Devi.
SV Rangarao As Keechakudu In Narthanasala (1963)
A good number of actors are often identified with the roles they become famous for. However, in the case of greats like SVR, the roles they do become famous because of their doing the roles. Keechakudu is the role that became so well known because he did it. Keechaka's role, beginning in the middle of the movie, Narthanasala, dominates the other roles. The wonderful combination of Samudrala's dialogues and SVR's delivery of them and his action won international acclaim for the movie. SVR paying tribute to Samudrala by observing that the dialogues act and not the actors reveals his greatness in acknowledging the greatness of a technician. SVR's action so impressed the judges with his performance that he was awarded the best actor prize, which he received from the hands of the then President of Jakarta, Dr. Sukarno. Sridhara Rao, Lakshmi Rajyam, SVR and Relangi attended the film festival.
February 12th, 2006
NTR Who Upheld The Self-respect Of The Telugus
NTR often wondered if his doing the role of Sri Krishna in a number of movies turned his attention to politics. Sri Krishna's role in fourteen movies must have had a definite influence on his line of thinking and attitude. People applauding an actor for the same role in 14 movies is certainly unprecedented in movie history. He suited the role so well that we who never get to see Lord Krishna are ready to accept him as Lord Krishna. According to some his success in politics is due to his frequent portrayal of the role of Lord Krishna.
By 1960, NTR had been acting on average in ten movies a year, and a number of them dubbed into North Indian languages had been very successful. AK Nadiadwala, a North Indian producer offered him a crore rupees for the role of Krishna in his movie. NTR rejected the offer saying that he was the property of the Telugus, and that mythologicals should remain the exclusive art forms of the Telugus. He did the role of Karna in Tamil but never acted Krishna's role in any language other than Telugu.
Handsome Hero Haranath
Haranath was born Haranath Raju on Sep 25, 1935 in Kakinada. He acted in a number of plays during his college days, and won many awards. One day while buying shoes in Pandi Bazaar, Director Gutta Ramineedu saw him and selected him for the hero's role in the movie, 'Maa Inti Mahalakshmi' that he was going to make. His performance in the movie earned him a place next only to that of ANR and NTR. For his first venture as producer and director, NTR picked Haranath for the role of Lord Sri Rama in 'Sitarama Kalyanam'. The song sequence, 'Andala o chilaka, anduko na lekha,' featuring Haranath in the movie 'Letamanasulu' enthralled the whole of Andhra Pradesh those days. Movies like Palamanasulu, Pelliroju, etc., with Haranath and Jamuna as the lead pairs were tremendous successes. He acquitted himself well as Lord Sri Rama in 'Sri Rama Katha' too. His performance as Krishna in 'Bhishma' is unforgettable. Equally unforgettable is his action along with NTR in Palnati Yuddham, Punyavathi, Gundamma Katha, Adapaduchu and Chittichellulu. Addicted to drink, he had to content himself with guest roles in the later movies. His last role was that of the father in 'Nagu' casting Chiranjeevi as the hero. He died on Nov 1, 1988 in Madras.
February 10th, 2006
Jayasudha Completes 30 Years
Well-known film actress Jayasudha completes 30 years in the film industry this year. Her first film in Telugu was N. Gopalakrishna's 'Lakshmana Rekha,' in which she was paired opposite Chandramohan. It was released in 1975. But K. Raghavendra Rao's 'Jyothi' (1976) was the biggest of all that catapulted her into the list of talented performers. The film was inspired by 1975's 'Mili,' starring Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri and directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. The spontaneous actress got married to Nitin Kapoor, a cousin of Jeetendra, in 1985 and they have two sons. She played the mother of Lawrence in the recently released 'Style'.
Suryakantham - Andhra's Termagant Mother-in-law
Telugus think twice before naming their daughters Suryakantham because actress Suryakantham by her performance of the role of a notoriously harassing mother-in-law has become a synonym of a persecuting mother-in-law. Born on 28 October, 1924 at Venkatrayapuram near Kakinada she made her debut as a dancer in Gemini's 'Chandraleka' for a meager Rs. 75 a month. Her first movie as an actress is 'Naarada-Naaradi' in 1948. She acted the role of a dumb woman in 'Dhramangada' later. Her roles subsequently in 'Maaya Rambha' and 'Agni Pariksha' did not bring her any recognition. With her roles in 'Samsaram' and 'Kodarikam' in 1953 she became typecast as a termagant mother-in-law.
Nagi Reddy and Chakrapani produced 'Gundamma Katha' with Suryakantham in a major role as a termagant mother-in-law. People were surprised that a movie featuring greats like NTR, SVR and ANR was named Gundamma, but the movie went on to become an all time hit. None can forget the performances in the movie of Relangi, Ramana Reddy and Suryakantham. Even veterans used to be very careful while shooting with Suryakantham, because almost always her first take used to okayed.
February 9th, 2006
'Bhakta Prahlada' In Color
'Bhakta Prahlada' in color is the lavish production of AVM production house. Chitrapu Narayana Murthy directed the movie for which Narasa Raju penned the dialogues. Roja Ramani was booked for the role of Prahlada and she definitely did justice to the role of young Prahlada. She did live the role. She gave lip movements to songs and verses with confidence. It was produced in Telugu and Tamil. The Telugu version had Relangi and Padmanabham doing the roles of Chanda Markulu. Balamuralikrishna acting as Narada lent a special attraction to the movie. As Saluri Rajeswara Rao who scored the music for the movie felt it would be an offence to compose music for the songs for Balamuralikrishna, he himself composed music for his songs.
The movie that began to be made in May 1965 was released in January 1967. As a child artiste, Roja Ramani's performance in the movie so impressed the President of India that he wished to see her. She was flown to Delhi so that she could have the audience with the President. Dr. Radhakrishnan, the then President honored her by personally handing her the certificate of appreciation. Winning the best child artiste award in her first movie itself, she went on to win five more awards.
BS Ranga's 'Tenali Ramakrishna'
BS Ranga, a Kannadiga, who had distinguished as a cinematographer for 'Laila Majnu,' 'Stree Sahasam' and 'Devadasu,' established the film production company, Vikram Productions, and produced the first Telugu movie 'Ma Gopi,' which he himself directed. He then started 'Tenali Ramakrishna' in Telugu and Tamil. As the producer, director and photographer of Tenali Raman, the Tamil version of Tenali Ramakrishna, he acquitted himself creditably in all the three departments. The money that the gorgeous settings in the movie demanded did not bother him. Samudrala Raghavacharya's dialogues added extra effect to the movie in Telugu.
NTR took on the role of Krishna Deva Raya in Telugu and Tamil, while ANR and Sivaji Ganesan filled the role of Ramakrishna in Telugu and Tamil respectively. Bhanumathi did the role of Krishnasani in Tamil and Tamil as well, while Jamuna was given the role of Kamala, and Jayalalitha's mother Sandhya was assigned the role of Tirumalamba. Athreya, then not a known writer, was offered the role of a courtier in the court scene. He sneered at the offer and came away saying that the act was not for a man of his learning. The pair Viswanathan and Ramamurthy provided excellent music for the movie.
February 6th, 2006
Bhanumati's Talent As A Director
'Chandirani' (1953) was the first directorial venture of Bhanumathi. It was shot simultaneously in Telugu, Tamil and Tamil under the banner of Bharani Studios. People were not sure of the wisdom of such a venture in her first attempt itself, but the success of the movie in all the three languages silenced her critics. She then co-produced 'Aggi Ramudu' (1954) with Rama Rao in which he teamed opposite her. Then followed 'Chintamani', 'Sarangadhara' and 'Bobbili Yuddham'. The song 'Srikara Karunalavala' that she sang for 'Bobbili Yuddham' still rings in the ears of the audiences. Her other movies of the later period include 'Vivaha Bandham' and 'Todu Needa'. She starred as Nagamma opposite Rama Rao cast as Brahma Naidu. It won the President's award for the best Telugu film of the year. They paired up again in the movie 'Ammayi Pelli,' she directed. That was her last movie as a director too. In 1992 she acted an important role in NTR's 'Samrat Asoka'. The interesting thing is that she is the only heroine to have acted along NTR continuously for three decades.
Kasturi Siva Rao - A Comedian With A Difference
Kasturi Siva Rao must be credited with bringing stardom status to comedians on the Telugu screen. Lean and lanky Siva Rao with his innocent looks projected his own style of comedy with his looks, gestures and body. Born to a college lecturer in Kakinada on 6th March 1913, he had no interest in studies and was drawn to action. The role of Kasipathi in Sakkubai in 1921 marked his entry into the stage. He won the acclaim of prominent people like the Maharaja of Vijayanagaram, Kasinathuni Nageswara Rao, etc., for his excellent performance as Subbisetty in Chintamani, and for his roles in other plays. He worked as an operator for same time in Poorna Pictures Theatre in Vizag.
February 4th, 2006
Akkineni As 'Devadasu'
'Devadasu' marks the transformation of Akkineni from being a class hero to a mass hero. Akkineni's portrayal of Devadasu's role was very realistic and natural. Ramachandra Kasyap pestered DL for Devadasu's role, but DL, though related to Kasyap, was bent on taking only Akkineni for the role. After watching Akkineni's performance as a star-crossed lover in 'Laila Majnu', DL was convinced that only Akkineni could do justice to the role of Devadasu, and Akkineni justified his selection for the role. Akkineni related once how the Devadasu team was ridiculed in the movie circles: "Akkineni as Devadas and Savithri as Parvathi! Filming such a great story in Telugu! And Vedantham directing it! Making movies of Sarath's stories which few understand correctly! The press too advised me against doing the role. However, our firmness to make a success of the movie grew with the criticism and opposition to the making of the movie. I began to study seriously the role of Devadas. I had long discussions about it with Chakrapani who had translated a number of Sarath's novels into Telugu. I was hesitant in acting the social role in 'Samsaram', and once I was successful, I gained confidence and went on to act Devadasu with greater confidence."
The effect of Akkineni's wonderful performance was enhanced by Mangaiah's make-up and the photographic effects of BS Ranga. They all succeeded in reflecting the working of Sarath's mind when he created the story and character of Devdasu. No wonder then that Nageswara Rao's performance still lingers in our memory.
Chakrapani - A Gem Of A Dialogue Writer
Chakrapani after entering the film field as a dialogue writer for 'Dharmapatni' (1941) returned to his native place Tenali and busied himself with the publication of the Telugu versions of Sarat's novels. While he was on a short visit to Madras, BN Reddy sent for him and asked him to suggest a good story for a movie. Though Charkrapani professed his ignorance of filmy matters, BN Reddy persisted and Chakrapani proved his mettle as a film writer. That was how 'Swarga Seema' for which Chakrapani penned the story and dialogues had its birth. It reestablished Chakrapani in the film world to which he had said good-bye earlier.
'Swarga Seema' finished, Chakrapani was about to return to Tenali, and again BN Reddy stopped him and teamed him with his younger brother Nagi Reddy. And we need not mention here the achievements of this combination.
January 31st, 2006
The Last Days Of Rajababu
Though a picture of humor on the screen Rajababu was the serious type in real life. He never forgot Chitti Babu who initiated him to the stage and encouraged him to act. His inclusion of Babu in his name is his gesture of gratitude to Chitti Babu. He established a trust and donated a large sum of money for the establishment of a junior college in Korukonda in East Godavari district. He enjoyed celebrating his birthday grandly on ever 20th October. Rajababu drew inspiration from comedian Balakrishna who he felicitated. Others whom he felicitated include Sivarama Krishnaiah, Surya Kantham, Relangi and Savithri. A terrible drink addict, he fell a prey to cancer. On 14th February 1983, which was Sivaratri, he breathed his last listening to the song of Ghantasala.
The Birth Of Vauhini Productions
Following the success of 'Sumangali', 'Devata' and 'Bhakta Potana' under the banner of Vauhini Pictures, BN Reddy and KV Reddy decided to make movies alternatively under the banner to avoid the filming of other's productions under the banner. When BN Reddy's turn came after KV Reddy's 'Bhakta Potana', he had to face the cut in raw film quota and the hike in film production costs on account of the World War II. That led to the partners' decision to increase the capital of the film company. The founder, Narayana Swamy suggested that the firm Vauhini Pictures be limited to film distribution and a new company Vauhini Productions be launched with a capital of Rs. 2.5 lakh. Narayana Swamy contributed Rs. 2 lakh as his and his wife's share of the capital. BN Reddy, KV Reddy, Nagaiah and others held the rest of the shares. Vauhini Productions so started produced 'Swarga Seema' as its maiden venture.
January 30th, 2006
A Few Things About C. Pullaiah
Chittajallu Pullaiah, popularly known as C. Pullaiah, is to be counted among those film personalities associated with the Telugu movie right from its silent movie days. When Raghupathi Suryaprakash, son of Raghupathi Venkaiah, whom he assisted as a director went broke C. Pullaiah returned to Kakinada, turned his home into a studio and produced the silent movie, 'Bhaktha Markandeya'. 'Sathi Anasuya' is the first children's movie in Telugu and sixty child artistes were booked for it. Pullaiah took them all to Calcutta, and a teacher too along with them, so that their studies might not be interrupted. He rented a house where he looked after all the children as a parent would. Wife Rangamma ran a small diary to meet the need for milk, butter-milk and butter for the children under their care. The sixty children regarded Pullaiah as their father. Relangi used to take them out sight seeing and to movies.
Marcus Bartley - A Wizard Of A Cinematographer
'Swarga Seema' was the maiden cinematographic venture of the wizard of cinematography, Marcus Bartley. He had wielded the camera for two Tamil movies after 'Tiruvalluvar,' before he attracted the attention of the Vauhini group in 1944. His first Telugu movie 'Swarga Seema' proved how talented a cinematographer he was. Two sequences in the movie stand out as great examples of his technique and artistry as a director of photography. In one of them the showing of the shadows of trees and leaves on the close up of the face of heroine Jayamma in conversation with Nagaiah is cited as a master piece of cinematography and as a technique unknown till then. In the last scene, Nagaiah's shadow as he walks along the road in the light thrown on the road by the lantern inside the house was in those days a superb feat of photography.
'Swarga Seema' thus displayed the genius of Marcus Bartley. A spate of offers came Marcus Bartley's way following it, but he turned down most of them. The movie cemented the bonds of friendship between him and the three, BN Reddy, KV Reddy, and Nagi Reddy. This led to his wielding the camera for all the forty odd Vauhini movies including such great hits as Yogi Vemana, Guna Sundari Katha, Vijaya's productions Shavukaru, Patala Bhairavi, Pellichesi Chudu, Chandraharam, Missamma, Maya Bazaar, Appuchesi Pappukudu, Gundamma Katha, Raja Rajeswari Coffee Club, etc.
January 11th, 2006
Though Ram is of Telugu origin, he was born and brought up in Chennai. So, he is very good at speaking Tamil. Ace producer Sravanthi Ravi Kishore is his uncle. As a young boy, he would always dream of the day he would become an actor. He grew up in a filmi atmosphere, after all. He also featured in a Tamil short film, 'Adiyalam', which won him the Best Actor award at the Europe Short Film Festival held in Switzerland. Ram's success grabbed the attention of many Tamil filmmakers. At the same time, he attracted the notice of YVS Chowdary. Chowdary went through his portfolio and satisfied by what he has seen it booked him in 'Devadasu' and the rest you know is history.
That Cough Was His Too
Subbaraman, music director of the classic 1953 film 'Devadasu' died while the shooting was still in progress. All but two songs had to be recorded. They were later tuned and recorded by his assistant MS Viswanathan. The two numbers are: 'Jagame Maya,' and 'Taane Maarena.' That Ghantasala's rendering of the songs were par excellence, everyone knows. 'Devadasu' brought out the best in Akkineni as an actor and Ghantasala as a singer. It established them firmly in the world of Telugu movies. No Ghantasala's concert ever went without his singing 'Jagame Maaya,' and at the end of the song, he would invariably add that the fit of cough that concludes it was also his.
January 4th, 2006
The Story Behind The Making Of 'Eenadu'
That was 1982. Superstar Krishna was terribly busy and had no time even to breathe. He was unable to find the time for call sheets for the ventures of his own Padmalaya Studios. G. Hanumuntha Rao, Krishna's brother thought of making a low budget film with other stars during the time that Krishna was busy. The Malayalee movie, 'Eenad' featuring Satyan and directed by IV Sasi engaged his attention. Krishna liked it too, so Hanumuntha Rao bought the rights for its remake. Sridhar was booked for the lead role and Krishna picked up his close friend Sambasiva Rao to direct the movie. He had by then directed ten movies and after his first movie 'Ardha Rathri,' he was familiar to all as 'Ardha Rathri' Sambasiva Rao.
After watching the Malayalam 'Eenad,' Sambasiva Rao had different thoughts. He immediately met Krishna, busy shooting 'Ekalavya' at Madras Karpagam Studio, and suggested Krishna himself act in the movie. That set Krishna thinking. At his request Paruchuri brothers who were in good demand as dialogue writers after their success in movies like Chali Cheemalu, Kaliyuga Mahabharatham, Maro Malupu, saw the movie 'Eenad' and they liked it too. They too suggested that he had better take the lead role in the movie. This surprised Krishna. The hero in the Malayalam movie is a fifty year old, who with his progressive views clashes with a self-seeking and ambitious politician. This left little scope for fights, duets, etc., typical of a glamour hero's role in a commercial movie. But everyone wanted Krishna to do the deglamorized role of a fifty year old man. Krishna was hesitant. In the mean time, Paruchuri brothers adapted the role to suit the body language of Krishna. Krishna then okayed it. That was how the 200th movie of Krishna had its beginning.
Padmanabham In Place Of Sarathi
To start with Padmanabham was not booked for any role in, 'Velugu Needalu' (1961). One day as a sequence involving Akkineni, Savithri and company was being shot in Vauhini Studios, Sarathi leading the group of friends was not able to act up to director Adurthi's satisfaction. Just then Padmanabham taking some of his friends round the studios happened to come along to the place. Adurthi wanted him to act, but then Padmanabham was busy for a whole week. With just the clothes Padmanabhan had on then, blue satin trousers and a bush coat, Adurthi got him to act in place of Sarathi. In the movie we see Padmanabham standing in front of Sarathi. That is also why in the long shot we don't see Sarathi at all. Some years later, however, Sarathi was chosen in place of Padmanabham for a role in 'Bhakta Kannappa' (1976).
January 3rd, 2006
Dronavajjula Lakshmi Narayana's Daring
Born Dronavajjula Lakshmi Narayana in Vijayawada, DL began his film career as a production manager. While working in Bharani Films he became friends with writer Samudrala, Vedantham Raghavaiah, and Subbaraman. They then hit upon the idea of producing a movie together. They named their company Vinoda Pictures with the noble objective of enlightenment through entertainment. 'Stree Sahasam' was their maiden venture in 1951. It featured Nageswara Rao and Anjali Devi. Then began their Devadas. The shooting began at 8 O'clock at night in Revathi Studio on Nov 24, 1951. Significantly this is the first movie to be shot in Revathi Studios. The pooja for Balasanyasamma was performed along with Devadas the same time. Interestingly Sarath's photo was placed alongside those of the gods and was garlanded. DL, Vedantham Raghavaiah, Samudrala, Subbaraman, photographer Ranga, Akkineni, Pushpavalli, Surya Prabha, Shavukaru Janaki, Rushyendramani and Girija attended the pooja.
Akkineni was selected for the role of Devadas, and Janaki, for the role of Parvathi. The news of the production spread and people discouraged the foursome of Vinoda from the venture. It did discourage them. Even though shooting had gone on for a week, the other three advised DL to suspend further shooting. They then produced a heavy budget movie 'Santhi.' The film was shot in the same setting that was put up for Devadas. Ramachandra Kasyap and Chandra Kumari played the lead roles in the movie while Savithri and Peketi filled the comic roles. After this movie the other three were not in favor of resuming the shooting of Devadas, so DL bought off their shares too and went ahead alone to make Devadas.
Paralysis Interrupts 'Palnati Yuddham'
Director Ramabrahmam of 'Palnati Yuddham' felt highly satisfied with the shooting of six reels of the movie, with some of the scenes involving Manchala in the end. He then had a sudden stroke of paralysis which affected his right leg, right hand and speech. No treatment could cure him of the disease. He lost hope of completing the movie. He then assigned the responsibility of producing the rest of the movie to his brother-in-law Koganti Subba Rao and chose LV Prasad, who was directing 'Griha Pravesam,' to complete the movie.
The movie acquired a social coloring because of the progressive views that Prasad held then. In one sense the whole movie is dominated by politics. It strikes one as a mini Mahabharatam. The movie certainly bears the stamp of LV Prasad's directorial approach.
January 1st, 2006
Meena And Mom's Objections
Meena's career as Telugu film actress began with her appearance as traditional, modest girl in 'Seetha Ramaiah Gari Manavaralu'. She had to stay away from movies because of her mother's objection to her acting glamorous roles involving kisses and indecent exposure. She was to have acted as one of the heroines opposite Nagarjuna in 'Criminal' but she kept off because her mother would not agree to her being seen in kissing and other salacious scenes. That was way back in 1994, however. Later, of course, she became very busy in Tamil movies and a number of Telugu movies starring her followed.
Tanguturi Surya Kumari's Legacy
Tanguturi Surya Kumari, daughter of the brother of late Tanguturi Prakasam Panthulu, first Chief Minister of Andhra State, acted as a farmer's daughter in 'Rythu Bidda'. By then she had already made a name for herself as a singer of patriotic songs, associated with India's freedom struggle. Born on November 13, 1926, she died on April 25, 2005. 'Rythu Bidda,' the first ever Telugu movie to win the Government of India silver medal has also the distinction of being the first film to be scripted by DV Narasa Raju. The songs and dialogues in the movie are etched for their excellence in the memories of the Telugu spectators. Relangi's action was outstanding and formed the highlight of the movie.