December 26th, 2005|
The Golden Era Of Telugu Mythologicals
The mythological movie making that began with 'Bhakta Prahlada,' became popular with 'Maaya Bazaar.' The mythological assured an honored place for itself with NTR adorning many mythological films with élan in a number of movies. He gradually evolved into the number one choice for either the hero or the villain's role in mythologicals. His tryst with mythologicals began with the role of Nalakubara in 'Maya Rambha.' As one famous for his glamorous roles in socials, it was daring of NTR to agree to act as ripe old Bheeshma in the movie of the same title. He had his make-up done as a very old man specially, by the doyen of make-up artistes, Hari Babu, and studied the stills carefully before okaying them.
The Making Of 'Raktha Sambandham'
That was the time when Sabhash Raja (1961) hit the screen. Following it a Tamil movie attracted the attention of the producer. The movie was 'Paasa Malar,' a Bheem Singh-directed film version of the Malayalam writer Kottakara's story 'Paasa Malar,' featuring Shivaji Ganesan, and having as its theme the strong attachment between a brother and his sister. Doondi, producer of Sabash Raja wanted to make it in Telugu with Savithri and Akkineni in the lead roles, and told Akkineni of it. Akkineni, however, observed that the audience would not accept him and Savithri as brother and sister. Doondi then approached NTR and he immediately agreed. The director of 'Paasa Malar' Bheem Singh is an Andhra and so Doondi wanted him to direct the Telugu version, 'Raktha Sambandham,' too, but Bheem Singh was too busy and Doondi would have to wait long. So Doondi picked on V. Madhusudana Rao to direct it.
It took long for the producers and the others concerned to decide who should fill the role of Savithri's husband in the movie. Gemini Ganeshan did it in Tamil. He and Savithri had been married by now and were even blessed with their daughter Vijaya Chamundeswari. So the producer finally pitched upon Kantha Rao for the part. Devika accepted a minor role in the movie as a gesture of good will for having been given the heroine's role in 'Sabhash Raja'.
December 23th, 2005
Suhasini's Acting Career
Suhasini is an actor with a strong filmy background. She is a writer and director too. Suhasini in the beginning never had any liking for acting. While she was a camera person under Ashok Kumar, Kamal Hassan coaxed her into turning an actor, even tempted her with the offer of building a studio for her and finally made her join a film institute. Her father (Charu Hassan), an artiste in his own right, encouraged her to take up acting. She later married the well-known director Maniratnam. She had her debut in the movie, 'Mouna Geetham' (1981). It turning out to be a big hit, she settled down as an actor. While continuing as a camera artiste, she carried on acting. She has completed twenty five years of her acting career, though Kamal Hassan is yet to build her a studio.
Haranath In Lord Sri Krishna's Role
Haranath donned Lord Sri Krishna's role in 'Bheeshma.' While shooting for a movie in Hyderabad, Haranath had a phone call from the producer of Bheeshma, BA Subbarao offering him the role of Sri Krishna. Haranath flatly rejected the offer. Subba Rao ignored his response and just asked when he would be back in Madras. As soon as he reached Madras, Subbarao wanted to know why he was against doing the role. Haranath's point was that the audience used to seeing NTR as Sri Krishna would never accept him in the role. But as Subba Rao persisted, Haranath sought NTR's advice. He told him to go ahead, and surprised him by saying that he (NTR) himself had suggested it. The very first shot was the tough 'Rayabaram Scene' which involved Haranath having to act to a series of verses. Haranath felt nervous in NTR's awesome presence as an actor born for the role. He had thirteen takes and even then the scene could not be okayed. Haranath gave up but the others persisted and the shooting was put off for the next day. Haranath met CSR for guidance. He encouragingly said to him, "What is there, brother? Try the combination of NTR's smile and Akkineni's smart look and you can make it. Go ahead; you'll succeed." And Haranath did make it after all!
December 20th, 2005
Familiar to all the viewers of Maa TV channel as 'Colors' Swathi, and cast in Krishna Vamsi's 'Danger,' Swathi comes from Martur, West Godavari District. Dad holds a job in the Navy, and she has the affection of her mother and brother. She declined a number of offers in the movies, because she is not particularly fond of making a career in the movies. Her role as Mahalakshmi in 'Danger' revealed the great actress in her.
Savithri's Shaky Start
How can any one forget her? Born to Subadramma and Viswankara Guravaiah on Dec 6, 1936, she lost her father when she was six years old, and moved under the care and protection of her uncle and aunt Venkateswara Chowdary and Durgamba. She studied up to III form in Kasturbai Memorial School in Vijayawada, and had training in classical dance under Sistla Krishna Murthy and Pulipaka Narasimha Rao. In spite of her classical dance background, she impressed everyone with her dance to the musical number, 'Teeyani Vennela Reyi,' from the movie, 'Bala Raju.' Her talent for dancing impressed even the great Prithvi Raj Kapoor. In 1949, then twelve years old, she was booked for acting a vamp's role in a movie, but unable to get her made up as an adult woman, the makers dropped her in favor of Lakshmi Kantham. In 1950 she lost the role of a supporting actress in 'Samsaram,' as she was found to be too nervous to act in the presence of Nageswara Rao, and had to be contented with a bit role as one of the girls around the heroine Pushpavalli. And the only dialogue she was to utter was, 'Nuvvu hero Nageswara Rao la vulnnave' addressed to him. Then in 'Patala Bhairavi,' she had a dance to perform. A role of some length she was able to get was in 'Pelli Chesi Choodu.' Her performance in 'Devadasu' in 1953 brought out the great artiste in her, and she never looked back after that. Does all this make us forget that in her last days of hardship and privation, she died a pathetic victim of alcohol?
December 19th, 2005
A degree holder from Chandragiri, Chittoor district, AP, Shafi had film ambition right from his boyhood, but he was not impatient enough in the matter to hop to Hyderabad or chase opportunities in Chennai soon after his studies. To enroll himself in National School of Acting in Delhi, he passed the tough entrance test in the first attempt itself. His maiden movie was 'Khadgam.' Then followed, 'Pranam,' and 'Varsham.' In his latest movie, 'Danger,' he showed great talent in his performance. He is cast opposite Nandita Das in the forthcoming 'Kamalini,' directed by KNT Sastry (of 'Tiladanam' fame).
Madhubala And Her Dressing Habits
The coy North Indian girl who stole the hearts of film fans with her glamour and acting talent in 'Roja,' 'Allari Priyudu' and 'Gentleman,' is none other than Madhubala, a cousin of 'dream girl' Hema Malini. At a very young age of twelve, she lost her mother, and had none to advise her on matters of dress. This turned her indifferent to dress. She just doesn't care very much what she wears. She is seen at home in lungi and kurta, jeans, T-shirts and such other casuals. And parties? How much does she like them? Well, she just doesn't bother.
December 17th, 2005
Comedy And Fitness Buff
Even as an eighth class student, Mallikarjuna Rao of Anakapalle, leading comedian of the Telugu screen, acted on the stage. As a grown-up, he launched the Navya Bharata Kala Samithi, and started acting in a big way. With his stage experience behind him, he reached Madras in search of film roles. He acted for the first time in 'Nagamalli,' in 1980, and became popular as 'Battala Sathigadu' after the role he so convincingly acted in, 'Ladies Tailor.' Though a comedian of real talent, he is fitness crazy. He founded the Gowri Vyayama Sala in Anakapalle.
Mohanbabu Made For Movies
Neither movies nor acting in them was to the liking of Mohan Babu's father. On a number of occasions he warned his assistant director son Mohan Babu against nursing high movie ambitions; he would advise him to be contented with the job of a physical training instructor in a school in a place near his home town Sri Kalahasti, and use his leisure time to look after their lands near Sri Kalahasti. Mohan Babu, however, insisted that his future was with the film world and that sooner or later, he was bound to become a great actor. The rest is history.
December 14th, 2005
Akkineni And Unfulfilled Love
Though in the beginning Akkineni's roles were limited to folklore and historical movies like, 'Mayalokam,' and 'Palnati Yuddham,' it was the social, 'Balaraju,' that cemented his movie career firmly. "This is what a social movie should be like," felt critics and audience as they watched his action in the movie. It was as though the roles of the lovers in, 'Laila Majnu,' and 'Devadasu,' were intended exclusively for Akkineni. That's how convincingly he lived in those roles and left an indelible mark on the hearts of the audiences! Not all can act in a way that sets apart the individual in the actor from the type of the role they act in. This is exactly where Akkineni is an actor with a difference. He leaves his stamp on the role he acts. One justifiably doubts if anyone else could have portrayed the role of Saleem in 'Anarkali' as effectively and memorably as Akkineni did. He proved yet again in 'Anarkali,' that only he is capable of acting the role of a disappointed lover.
The Kusa That Has Disappeared
Remember the famous song 'Sri Ramuni Charitamunu..' from the super hit film 'Lava Kusa'? Remember too, the lad who acted as Kusa? You certainly do, don't you? That's Viyyaru Naga Subrahmanyam who is now settled as a tailor and lives with his wife and three children in the village Eedaravalli near Amalapuram. The son of a stage artiste, the founder of Happy Club of Kakinada, Viyyaru Naga Subrahmanyam was spotted by the director of 'Lava Kusa,' when he happened to see Naga Subrahmanyam acting as Kusa on the stage during 1958. For the five years that 'Lava Kusa' was in the making, he was paid Rs 100/- per month. Though the movie was a hit, Subrahmanyam could not get roles of any worth after that. Even the few roles that he was offered did not get him any recognition. With his feet firmly on the ground and without further nursing filmy ambitions, he settled as a tailor.
December 10th, 2005
Sivaji Ganesan's Sensational Debut
The late CN Annadurai, founder of DMK party spotted an actor of great potential and recommended him to film producer-friend of his. That actor was none other than Sivaji Ganesan. The film that initiated Sivaji Ganesan into the movie world was 'Parasakthi.' Sivaji Ganesan's prowess at speech making impressed Annadurai. Hence his choice of Sivaji. With absolute faith in Annadurai, his producer-friend cast Sivaji in his movie, in spite of his other friends' warning against it. The film was a runaway success. That is another matter though.
Films And Flames
That was March 13, 1959, on the sets of Narasu Studios, Guindy, Madras. The movie being shot was, 'Bhatti Vikramarka.' On the sets were Mukkamala and Anjali Devi. The scene required a fire, and a fire was made by using petrol and straw. But thanks to the pedestal fan nearby, the flames rose high and the bamboo setting was ablaze in no time. The fire spread to the adjacent sets too and caused a damage of a lakh and half rupees those days - certainly a big amount. Six fire brigades fought for more than 90 minutes to bring the fire under control. In the history of the Telugu movie till then, this was the worst fire disaster.
December 6th, 2005
Paruchuri Venkateswara Rao's Tryst With NTR
That was Paruchuri Venkateswara Rao's birthday. While he was talking to 'Seete Ramudaithe' (1979) producer Sasibhushan, producer Rajendra Prasad of an NTR movie came enquiring for one Paruchuri, who he had been told was in Hyderabad, and whom NTR was asking to see. Sasibhushan smiled at Paruchuri, and Rajendra Prasad understood that Paruchuri was right there, and took him to Ramakrishna Studios where NTR was shooting. Rama Rao after talking for a while to Paruchuri suggested that they move into the shade from the hot sun. "How about our meeting this evening?" Rama Rao asked Paruchuri. Without realizing what he was saying, Paruchuri unintentionally said, "No, not this evening." "Then can it be tomorrow?" Rama Rao said. There was no mistake this time. Paruchuri immediately agreed.
Gudavalli Ramabrahmam's Guts
Rythu Bidda's shooting had begun and was shot totally indoors on studio floors. Gudavalli Ramabrahmam was at every stage very apprehensive of resistance to the production from the zamindars whose atrocities the movie was going to expose. He feared they might move the court to stay the production, and when the movie was completed without a hitch, he heaved a sigh of relief. Released all over Andhra on August 27, 1939, the screening of the film did encounter some problems. The zamindars moved the court to stay its exhibition, but as the censor had already cleared it, it went on being shown. Interestingly, the zamindars of Challapalli had a substantial share in the investment in the production of the movie. It goes to the credit of the zamindars on the board of Saradhi Film Company that they supported the production in spite of its anti-zamindari theme. It required real guts on the part of Ramabrahmam to make such a movie with such strong forces acting against it.
December 5th, 2005
Soundarya's Success Story
Soundarya, born Soumya the daughter of KS Satyanarayana, a director and producer of some status on the Kannada screen. She assumed the name of Soundarya while acting in her Telugu movie 'Manavarali Pelli', to be different from another actress of the same name in Kannada. Her first movie was 'Raitu Bharatam'. Acting under Perala's direction in Kannada, she came into contact with the unit of 'Raitu Bharatam', and from them the unit of 'Manavarali Pelli'. Her maiden movie in Kannada was 'Gandharva'. A badminton player as a student, her transformation into an actress with a solid base is really impressive. Interestingly, she is among the few heroines, who, without being sexy, are among the popular.
Shereveer Vakil's Cine Career
Shereveer Vakil, an officer of the merchant navy, had been a physical fitness trainer to a number of industrialists and business tycoons in Hyderabad. Four years ago he went to Mumbai on invitation from Anil Kapoor to help his fitness and figure. Tabu, Sridevi, etc., are all his clients. Ramgopal Varma spotted him and cast him in 'James'. Interestingly, he is one of those who have done well in movies without any movie background. He will be seen next in debutante director Harish Shankar's 'Shock' starring Ravi Teja and Jyotika.
December 4th, 2005
Men As Women
Everyone knows how Naresh in 'Chitram Bhalare Vichitram,' and Kamal Hassan in 'Bhamane Satyabhamane,' in women's roles have proved their talent for such roles. Donning women's roles is no little challenge. As early as in 1982, Dustin Hoffman appeared in a female role as Michael Dorsey in 'Tootsie' under the direction of Sydney Pollack. Hoffman appears as a woman for as much as 80% of the movie. Desperate to get a foot hold in movies, Dustin Hoffman accepted the role, and was greatly acclaimed for his performance. The movie won an Academy Award too, thanks to the performance of Dustin Hoffman.
Fiction Into Films
Kovvali's novels were the rage those days. The practice of adapting novels for movies in Telugu began in the fiftieth decade of the last century. DL Narayana's production under Chandamama banner, 'Sipayi Kooturu (1959),' was the screen version of a Kovvali novel. Featuring a monkey, a horse and a few dogs, the movie captivated the hearts of the audiences. This is the maiden movie of Satyanarayana as also of the danseuse Vijayalakshmi.
November 30th, 2005
About Parvati Melton & Deva Katta
A well-known model in the US, Parvati Melton of a Punjabi family settled in Detroit, US, has danced her way into the hearts of the people of the US by her impressive classical dance recitals. A chance meeting between her and Deva Katta led to his offering her a role in 'Vennela.' She liked the role and accepted it at once. Aspiring to do a Masters in Engineering in the US, Deva Katta took along with it, a course in the Cinema Division. He made short movies and documentaries as a student of the course. That was the time too, when he and all his friends joined as a production team and he was chosen to direct their movie, 'Vennela.'
Sobhan Babu & Kanchana - The Long Wait
'Veerabhimanyu' (1965) brought to the fore the talent of Sobhan Babu who had been content with minor roles in movies for five years before that. He was fixed for the role only after a lot of discussion about his fitting the role. Kanchana too, an airhostess before her entry into movies, made her debut in this movie. 'Veerabhimanyu' augured well for both of them, and paved their way to stardom.
November 28th, 2005
Krishnaveni's Dream Fulfilled By Padmanabham
The attempts of Smt. Krishnaveni, the recent winner of Raghupathi Venkaiah award, to make a movie on Annamayya with Akkineni Nageswara Rao as the hero and Athreya as the director, and another movie on Molla under the direction of Nagaiah, unfortunately never succeeded. Molla had to be abandoned after the completion of one schedule, as Nagaiah, too busy with his own production could not spare enough time and attention to Krishnaveni's venture. Later, however, Padmanabham produced 'Kathanayaka Molla' (1970), with Vanisree playing the lead role.
'Rythu Bidda' A Path-breaking Film
In the history of the Telugu cinema, 'Rythu Bidda' (1939) is the first ever movie to be banned and to encounter troubles both during its production and at the time of its release. The movie mirrored very realistically the atrocities of the landlords of the time, and naturally they did not take kindly to a movie that exposed their injustices. The zamindars of Venkatagiri had the prints of the movie burnt and their attempts to stop its screening led to violence and clashes. They succeeded in bringing pressure on the then British Government to ban the movie. The government acquiesced as it only supported their misdeeds.
November 25th, 2005
Vijaya Nirmala's Tollywood Screen Debut
Prominent actress and director Vijaya Nirmala had her debut in Telugu movies as a child artiste in 'Paanduranga Mahaathyam'. This was her first Telugu movie and the third as a child actor. NTR who happened to see her action as a young actress in Tamil 'Matsya Rekha' was impressed with her talent and had a makeup test done for her, and took her into 'Paanduranga Mahaathyam'. She fainted while 'Jaya krishna mukunda murari..' song sequence was being shot. NTR had the ritual for warding off of the evil eyes of the evil spirits done and suspended the shooting until she recovered. She was seen in Sita's role the song bit of 'Ramuni avataram ravikula somuni..,' in 'Bhookailas.' Even today she has a special liking and regard for NTR as the one who initiated her into the Telugu film world. She had her Vijaya Krishna recording studio inaugurated by him. On that occasion, very aptly she had the clipping of 'Jaya krishna mukunda murari..,' screened.
Bhanu Chander's Road To Success
Before turning an actor Bhanu Chander assisted the renowned Hindi music director Naushad, and was a guitarist in Mumbai's night clubs. No surprise then that he became a terrible drug addict. In a surprise turn to his life he gave up drugs to honor his word to his mother. He joined a marshal arts institute in Madras. He later earned a name for himself as an actor of real talent in Telugu movies. He composed the music for Desa Drohulu (1995).
November 23rd, 2005
VB Rajendra Prasad - A Respected Figure
Beginning his film production career with 'Annapoorna' (1960) featuring Jaggaiah and Jamuna, VB Rajendra Prasad went on to produce sensational hits like Aradhana, Antasthulu, Asthiparulu, Akka Chellellu, and Adrushtavantudu. As all these movies were produced under the Jagapathi banner, he is more familiar in the film circles as Jagapathi Rajendra Prasad, than as VB Rajendra Prasad. Turning a director with the Akkineni Nageswara Rao-Vanisree starrer, 'Dasara Bullodu,' he wielded the megaphone for hits including, 'Bangaru Babu,' 'Bangaru Bommalu,' 'Manchi Manasulu,' 'Pichi Maaraju,' 'SP Bhayankar,' 'Rama Krishnulu,' 'Muddula Koduku,' etc. It certainly makes one happy that his distinguished film career has earned a special place for him. The state government recognized his merit and awarded him 'Raghupati Venkaiah Award.' Telugu audiences' acceptance of Jagapati Babu, his son as a hero is a fitting tribute to the veteran movie figure Rajendra Prasad.
B Saroja Devi As Kalavathi
When NTR was looking for an actress to fit the role of the dancing girl Kalavathi in his Paanduranga Mahaathyam, he suddenly remembered a not so fair complexioned girl who had approached him on quite a few occasions for roles in movies. He thought of offering Kalavathi's role to her, but Peetambaram, his personal make-up man felt that NTR and she would be a total mismatch. There was, however, something in her that made NTR feel that she would fit the role, and he made her the offer. Though much excited about the opportunity of acting with NTR, she was not so willing to accept the role of a dancing girl of ill repute. However, when NTR explained to her the significance of the role, she agreed to do it. All this is about none other than B Saroja Devi. This was the start of her Telugu film career in which she evolved into the most glamorous heroine. She made her film debut in the Kannada movie, 'Mahakavi Kalidasa.' She had NTR's offer while acting opposite MGR in a Tamil movie. Being a Kannadiga, her Telugu accent was defective, so Krishna Kumari was engaged to lend her, her voice.
November 19th, 2005
Sindhu Tolani's Background
Born to an employee couple, and brought up along with her younger sister in Mumbai, Sindhu Tolani had nothing of the movie background. She had some acting experience in Hindi serials. Her action in the serial 'Sarhadein,' caught the attention of 'Aithe' producer Gunnam Gangaraju who felt that she would be suitable for a role in the movie and immediately booked her for it. She was then doing her first year degree course. She then busied herself with her studies and serials, when again she had a movie offer, this time as the heroine in 'Manmadha,' and then followed 'Atanokkade.' And Sindhu Tolani arrived on the Telugu screen.
Natasamrat Denied Role
When the shooting of 'Rythu Bidda (1939),' was under way, a man brought a young boy to the sets. He asked Gudavalli Ramabrahmam if he could give the boy a role. "What role can a young boy like this act?" said Gudavali. "There aren't any roles that suit his age and looks." And without a further word he went on with his shooting. That boy that was denied a role that day, you might have imagined by now, was Natasamrat Akkineni Nageswara Rao. Later, however, Gudavalli produced 'Maya Lokam (1945),' casting ANR in the hero's role. That, of course, is a different matter.
November 18th, 2005
Bharat's Entry Into Film Land
Given his middle class background, Bharat's entry into the movie world makes interesting reading. Even as a school boy he had passion for dancing, and it developed into a hobby. Once dancing at a college function, he caught the attention of ace director Shankar, one of the guests at the function, then working on the movie, 'Boys.' And need we tell you how ecstatic Bharat was when Shankar immediately cast him in 'Boys'?
A Multi-talented Person - Dr. Siva Prasad
Bharatiraja's 1980 movie 'Kotta Jeevitalu' ushered Dr. Siva Prasad into the movie world. His portrayal of the roles of a beggar and a leper pairing with Suttivelu in 'Khaidi' sent the audience into roars of laughter. After entertaining his audience as a comedian in more movies, he turned a director. 'Prema Tapassu,' 'Kokkorokko,' 'Topi Raja Sweety Roja' and 'Illalu' are his directorial ventures. Later, he had a stint in politics as a minister, after which he reentered the cine world in the role of a home minister-villain in 'Danger'. This role brought out his potential for villains' roles. His roles in movies like 'Khaidi,' 'Bobbili Brahmanna,' 'Chalaki Mogudu – Chadastapu Pellam' and 'Madam' were greatly acclaimed. He had a full length role as a villain in 'Ee Charitra Ae Sirato.'
October 24th, 2005
The Story Behind 'Malliswari'
As you all know 'Malliswari' (1951) is one of the best classics of the Telugu cinema. It introduced the renowned Devulapalli Krishna Sastry's poetic genius to the film lovers of the times. The lyricism of the songs he wrote for the movies still ring in the ears of cinegoers and lovers of poetry. The story of this BN Reddy's classic has an interesting background. In the late 1940s Buchibabu wrote a story about a dasi's escapade from a king. The story of Malliswari has its basis in it. The jokes and the pranks of the Nagaraju-Malliswari pair, played by NTR and Bhanumati, are actually are reminiscences of BN Reddy's childhood incidents and experiences.
The Most Trusted Man Of Late NTR
You wouldn't believe it, but the man late NTR trusted the most was his personal barber. The legendary actor would spend more than half-an-hour with him every month to get feedback on what the public thinks of the TDP policies. He was of the opinion that the only way a political leader can get genuine information about the people's views is through the barber. This was because, people from various walks of life visited the barber's shop and invariably the discussions at these places were centred around day-to-day politics and the state of administration.
October 23rd, 2005
A Long Overdue Recognition To C Krishnaveni
C Krishnaveni is a woman of many talents - an actress, singer and producer. She made her screen debut at the age of 10 in 'Sati Anasuya' (1935) and later acted in films like Kacha Devayani (1938), Gollabhama (1947), Madalasa (1948) and Manadesam (1949). She was married to Mirjapuram Raja in 1941. She has the credit of introducing actors like NTR, Anjali Devi and Vijaykumar and technicians like Ghantasala and Ramesh Naidu. In recognition of her contribution to the film industry, C Krishnaveni has been named for the prestigious Raghupati Venkaiah Memorial Award for the year 2004.
Where Is That Respect?
Some decades ago movie audiences used to stand up in silence whenever a patriotic song was played in the theatre or the national flag appeared on the screen. They even accompanied the song and sang it in chorus. Times, however, have changed a lot. Many films based on the Freedom Movement even today do reflect in their songs and sequences the spirit of the Freedom Movement. But unfortunately, nobody pays any attention to it. This can only be explained by the generation gap. Values and respects do change from generation to generation.
October 16th, 2005
Madala Rangarao-Balamurali Krishna Together
A noted film artiste, Madala Rangarao is a leftist in every sense of the word. He acted and produced movies with a pronounced leftist tilt. He turned the course of cliché ridden Telugu cinema towards progressive themes with success in the Eighties. He once thought of introducing well-known Carnatic singer Balamurali Krishna to his special audience. He met Balamurali and suggested that he mix with the common folk instead of always being elitist. Then immediately Balamurali said 'Yes,' and sang for Madala's 'Janam Manam' (1984). Madala's notable films include Yuvatharam Kadilindi (1980) and Erra Mallelu (1981).
Lanka Sathyam - A Comedian Who Went Unnoticed
Lanka Sathyam is said to be the pioneer comedian later to be followed by stalwarts like Relangi and Sivarao. Interestingly his first film 'Amma' was never released, and the second one 'Barrister Parvatheesam' (1940) flopped. Revolutionary filmmaker YV Rao's 'Viswamohini' (1940), a movie about the movie world, showcased his true acting talent. In that film, he played assistant to Chittor V Nagaiah. Afterwards Sathyam established himself as a comedian with his best ever performances in 'Balanagamma' (1942) and 'Chenchulakshmi' (1944).
October 11th, 2005
Sankarambadi Sundarachari's 'Maa Telugu Talliki Mallepoodanda' song is familiar to everyone. Tanguturi Suyakumari who sang it with great appeal in her mellifluous voice, has many records to her credit. She is the niece of 'Andhra Kesari' Tanguturi Prakasham Pantulu. This 1952 'Miss Madras' had her film admirers too, for her films like 'Raithu Bidda' (1939), 'Bhagyalakshmi' (1943), 'Krishnaprema' (1943), 'Maradalu Pelli' (1952) and Hindi films 'Watan' (1954), 'Udan Khatola' (1955). She had an acquaintance with the great Alfred Hitchcock. She established 'India Performing Arts' at Kensington, England, to train the English in Indian performing arts. Tanguturi Suryakumari, a singer, actor and dancer, passed away on April 25th, 2005.
Spanish Tune In Bhanumathi's Voice!
Tollywood's best multifaceted actress is Bhanumathi. Her 'Ohoho Pavurama' a song from 'Swargaseema' (1946) has still its appeal and regales the listeners. Musicologist Balantrapu Rajanikanta Rao wrote the song for the film. Chittor V Nagaiah was the music director. Bhanumathi had occasion to hear a Spanish tune by Rita Hayworth, heroine of Rouben Mamoulian's 'Blood and Sand' (1941). The tune immediately captured her and she adopted it to the song, 'Ohoho Pavurama.' The audience and listeners of the songs of 'Swargaseema' can never forget the great singing talent of Bhanumathi.
October 10th, 2005
Bollywood Actor Detained
In 1951 an interesting incident occurred in Bollywood. A film (Hulchul) shooting was going on in one of the studios in Bombay (present Mumbai). The police brought in a detainee handcuffed to the shooting and released him there. That man, an actor in that film, played a police officer's role. After the shooting was over, the detainee was taken back handcuffed by the police. That detainee was none other than Balraj Sahni. He was in jail as he was a communist. Balraj Saab and KA Abbas were known communists in those days.
Nimai Ghosh's Tryst With Tollywood
Nimai Ghosh was one of the greatest cameramen of the 1940s. He was once invited by Russians. Though a Bengali, Nimai had his start with a Telugu film. The first 'Vipranarayana' (1937) was made in Calcutta with Nimai as its cameraman. In fact it was his first movie. Kanchanamala, the beauty queen of the good old days of the Telugu screen had her first screen test under his guidance. He introduced her to the screen. He worked as a cameraman for great Kannada movies like 'Hamsageetha' and 'Karavali'.
October 9th, 2005
The Biggest Indian Film Ever, Mughal-E-Azam
Greats like K Asif, Prithviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Madhubala, Naushad and Lata Mangeshkar created 'Mughal-E-Azam', one of the greatest classics of the Hindi Cinema. It ran for a hundred days in Zamarrud Mahal in Hyderabad. Songs like 'Pyar Kiya Tho Darna Kya' caught many youngsters in the love web. That was the strength of Naushad's music and the melody of Lata Mangeshkar. The film brought out the full potential of the acting talents of Dilip Kumar and Prithviraj Kapoor. It still attracts the audiences whenever and wherever it is screened.
Too Much For Rudolph Valentino
Admirers are of many kinds. Some only admire the acting talent of an actor; some others even die for them, still some others pray for their success. Rudolph Valentino, one of the best silent film actors experienced this kind of 'too much admiration' in the 1920s. Young girls fell in love with him and there was an endless list of them! He was once astonished at the sight of hundreds of girls thronging to see him and to kiss him. But he jumped off and escaped. Rudolph Valentino died at a very young age of 31 in New York. The news made many young girls commit suicide and it is said some even went mad too.
October 7th, 2005
Hero As A Sportsperson
Long back an English film 'The Adventures of Rex and Rinty' (1935) showed the hero as a sportsperson – a polo player. Such things have happened in our Tollywood too. Our heroes too have been shown as tennis players, football players, and badminton players too. Superstar Krishna appeared as a polo player in the film 'Indradhanussu' (1978), directed by his wife Vijaya Nirmala. It was shot in the Secunderabad old racecourse with 17 horses and players.
Akkineni Nageswara Rao and Anjali Devi's 'Chenchulakshmi' (1958) was a remake. It was first made in 1944 with Ch Narayana Rao, Chittor V Nagaiah, Kamala Kotnis and Rishyendramani in the main roles. It was made both in Telugu and Tamil simultaneously. In fact this film is said to be the trendsetter for films to be made in more than one language at the same time.
October 6th, 2005
Malapilla - A Classic
Gudavalli Ramabrahmam's 'Malapilla' is said to be one of the classics of the Telugu screen. Made under the banner of Sarathi Studios, the film has story by Chalam, music by Bhimavarapu Narasimha Rao and lyrics by Basavaraju Apparao. It created a sensation when it was released in 1938. Brahmins wearing a tuft of hair on their heads were offered free passes. This shows how reformist the film in those days was!
Brooke Shields As 'Violet'
Almost every filmgoer must have at least heard about Brook Shields. Even as a child artiste she created a sensation. In 1978 American director Louis Malle made 'Pretty Baby' with her in the lead role. The tag line of the movie says – In 1917, in the red-light district of New Orleans, they called her 'Pretty Baby'. It shows the plight of a middle class woman contrasted with the lavish lifestyle of the well-offs. There is, in the movie, a setting of a red-light area of New Orleans. Brook Shields acted as 'Violet' in that film and another internationally acclaimed actress Susan Sarandon acted as Brooke Shields' prostitute mother, 'Hattie'.
October 4th, 2005
Walt Disney's Train Mania
Walter Elias Disney, popularly known as Walt Disney, creator of 'Mickey Mouse' and 'Donald Duck', had train mania since his childhood. His uncle Mike Martin was a train engineer. Their house was near the train track at Mareceline, Missouri, where Disney spent his childhood. No surprise he built his own trains in his own studio later, and fulfilled his childhood dream. The trains there are a special attraction to the visitors of Disneyland. Walt Disney, a folk hero of the 20th century, left this world on December 15, 1966.
IS Johar's Success In Hollywood
Actors like Shashikapoor, Kabir Bedi and IS Johar had very good opportunities to act in Hollywood films. But Johar alone received admiration among them. Foreign film critics praised his performance in 'Harry Black and the Tiger'. Johar appeared along with greats like Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif in 'Lawrence of Arabia'. Johar played a tiny role but received great admiration from the audience. He later acted in 'Maya' of MGM and 'North West Frontier' of 20th Century Fox productions.
October 3rd, 2005
One cannot forget the great comedian Rajababu. The other great comedian Relangi introduced him to the silver screen in his own film 'Samajam' in 1960. Rajababu is the screen name of Punyamurthula Appalaraju. It is a known fact that he was as much admired as the heroes like NTR and ANR and took remuneration equal to them too. He acted in 514 films of which 423 films were hits. He produced 'Manishi Roddunapaddadu' and 'Evarikivare Yamunateere', which his fans acclaimed greatly. He was a bit philosophical and was poetic too. He wrote verses to express his feelings. Cancer took him away on February 14, 1983.
A Tragic Incident In The Life Of Vijayalalitha
In real-life, actor and actresses too have some tragic experiences. Actress-dancer Vijayalalitha, better known as 'South Indian Nadia' experienced such a great tragedy. When she was completing the shooting of 'Mooga Prema' she was informed that her brother's son's condition was serious. She completed the shooting very quickly and hurried straightaway to the hospital to see the child. But by then, he was in his last stage. She put the child in her lap to console him only to see the child die in a few seconds. That incident left her in a philosophical mood for the rest of her life.
October 2nd, 2005
Dev Anand's Cap Mania
The evergreen hero Dev Anand has 'cap mania' - something peculiar. His search for new caps went on wherever his films were shot. One peculiar incident during one of his searches for new type of cap is worth narrating. He went into a shop, and found a variety of caps there. He tried almost every cap available in the shop but none was to his liking. Vexed, he decided to give up his trials and went up to the counter. The cap on the desk attracted him. He immediately enquired the price for that cap.
"I am sorry sir. I can't take money for that cap," said the owner of the shop.
"Don't bother, I will pay whatever you want," said Dev Anand.
"Still I can't sell it since it is your own cap; sure you forgot it," was the shop owner's reply.
Whenever anyone of any generation refers to 'Kanyasulkam' they definitely talk about JV Ramanamurthy's talent and stage craft. Such was the actor in him. He entered the industry as a hero of the film MLA in 1957. Later he appeared as villain in the film 'Amayakuralu'. Unfortunately, however, he had to stay away from the field for five years because of an accident. His second innings started off well with 'Anuragalu'. Audience applauded his acting talent in 'Siri Siri Muvva' and 'Mana Voori Katha'. Apart from his filmi career, stage lovers never forget him for his great performance as 'Gireesham' in the play 'Kanyasulkam'. He was known as 'Geerisham' more than as Ramanamurthy, it is said.
September 30th, 2005
Bhanumathi In Place Of Revathi
When BN Reddy first thought of Malliswari's role in his mega hit, 'Malliswari,' he wanted Kannada actor Kalyankumar's wife Revathi to play the lead role. However, Konda Reddy, the cameraman of the film and BN Reddy's younger brother, after a few camera tests, declared that Revathi was unsuitable for the role. Then Bhanumathi of 'Swargaseema' fame was taken for the lead role. But she was pregnant while the film was being shot and so the producer had to use dupes in some of the scenes, it is said.
The Importance Of March 10th
When it comes to beliefs and disbeliefs we find many Tollywood heroes having too many such. Some believe in numerology, others attach significance to dates! For instance, Chandramohan never forgets March 10th. Believe it or not, he received the call to act the key role in BN Reddy's film 'Rangularatnam' on March 10th, 1966. That film paved way for his career in the industry. And again on March 10th, 1976 K Viswanath decided to cast Chandramohan in the hero's role in his film 'Sirisirimuvva'. This one too showed the great talent of Chandramohan and established him as one of the best actors around. Those two movies really fetched him a lot of admiration from the film greats as well as the audience. Hence the importance of the date for him.
September 28th, 2005
Nagaiah - A Genius Of An Artiste
Actors are born. You can't find fault with their talent in any phase of their acting. Often in some cases their reel life merges with their real life. Nagaiah was one among such. He is said to be the Paul Mooney of the Telugu cinema. He was perhaps the most expressive and most talented actor the Telugu film field has ever seen. 'Pothana', 'Vemana' and 'Tyagaiah' and many other films are a testimony to his talent and appeal. It is said that he spent a few days at Saint Tyagaiah's hometown Tiruvayyur before preparing for 'Tyagaiah' shooting. He even had the privilege of listening to musical giants of that time like Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, Dwaram Venkataswami Naidu, Chowdaiah, Mani Iyer, Ariyakudi and Bangalore Nagamani. He learnt many Tyagaraya keertanas and regaled his listeners with them.
Lakshmi Furious Over An Ad Campaign
Some commercial advertisers use photos of film artistes for the promotion of their products. Once a soap manufacturer used Lakshmi's photo, to advertise his product. Lakshmi was furious over the development and immediately sent a court notice to the manufacturer and warned him against using others' faces without their permission for such ads.
September 17th, 2005
She Sang Only 15 Songs With Ghantasala
Vasantha is a well-known playback singer as you all know. 'Bangarubandilo' - her song for 'Vasanthasena' - can any one forget it?. Vasantha was introduced into the Telugu film world with 'Vagdanam'. She sang thousands of songs in southern languages. Cinegoers applauded even her music direction for the Kannada film 'Rajanarthaki Rahasyam'. However, it is surprising to note that she had only a few great songs to her credit and that she was a cosinger with Ghantasala for only 15 songs.
Herbert Wilcox, The Trendsetter
Nowadays even foreigners are making their way into Bollywood and Tollywood. But this trend was first set by British director Herbert Wilcox in his movies 'Spring in Park Lane', 'Victoria the Great' and 'Maytime In Mayfair'. The famous director Herbert introduced American actors in his films. He was an Oscar Awardee too. He died on 15th May, 1977 at the ripe age of 85 in London.
September 15th, 2005
A Shocked Mahmood
Bollywood comedian Mahmood is well-known for his tricks and jokes in real life too. Once he happened to see a sturdy person going along the road. Mahmood immediately asked him whether the person walking before him was his son.
"That is my daughter, though it is none of your business. Can't you see that?" answered the woman angrily.
"Sorry, sir, I didn't know that you are the girl's father," said Mahmood.
"What is wrong with you man? I am her mother," was the woman's reply.
Lakshmi's 'Bai' Friends
Once an enthusiastic journalist asked actress Lakshmi - "Madam, do you have a boy friend?"
"Oh yeah! Not one but three - Radhabai, Kamlabai and Jamunabai," she replied.
September 14th, 2005
Asrani In A Female Role
A real actor is one who can show their talented in the given situation. On occasions one should be prepared to don even female roles. Playing female roles these days is taken up as a challenge and especially comedians are very eager to do them. But about thirty years ago there were no takers among men for women's roles. However, the comedian Asrani faced such a predicament while 'Uljhan' (1975) was being shot. He was asked to play a full length female role. He bluntly refused to do it and got ready to walk out. But as it held the key to the success of the film, the producer and the director somehow prevailed upon him to play the role. Asrani finally yielded to their wishes and agreed to play the role. The film turned out to be a great success. Asrani stunned the audience with his appearance in a new and different role.
You Are Too Tall.. Film Career Is Not For You
Not a few of the now renowned artistes tasted the disappointment of rejection at the beginning of their careers. Even the superstar Amitabh Bachchan was no exception. His being too tall was the reason. Dharmendra was advised to try his hand at sports and games instead of at films. Producers and directors couldn't recognize the acting talents of Devanand and Balraj Sahni when they were looking for an entry into the film world. Rajendra Kumar was sent out after a few shots. All these great artistes came up the hard way, undeterred by their initial failures.
September 12th, 2005
Sharath Babu's Entry Into Films
Very interesting indeed are the ways in which young men and women make their entry into films. Sharath Babu's entry into film world is one such. In the 1960's film companies used to advertise for fresh faces and talented stage artistes for their new productions. In 1969 Ramavijetha Films advertised for new artistes for their new film. One Satyanarayana Deekshit, a BSc student, a stage artiste, attracted towards it immediately responded. After many tests he was given an opportunity to act in the film 'Ramarajyam'. That Deekshit was none other than Sharath Babu. While working for 'Nomu' he met the great comedienne Ramaprabha and married her.
C Ramachandra Displeased
Film music lovers can never forget C Ramachandra's great tunes. The music he scored for 'Albela' (1951) assured him of a place among the music greats for ever. He composed music for more than 250 Hindi films. NTR invited him to compose music for Telugu 'Anarkali'. In fact it was not Ramachandra's first Telugu movie. He was always against the noisy orchestra drowning and distorting the singer's voice. Melody, pure and simple, according to Ramachandra, is to be preferred to noisy orchestration and rhythm.
September 8th, 2005
Allu Ramalingaiah hails from Palakollu, West Godavari district. Before he entered the film field, he had been attracted to the stage. Those were the days when stage artistes had a great following. Allu in fact struggled a lot to get an opportunity to appear on the stage. When Mahanthi Hanumantha Rao was holding a rehearsal for the play, 'Prahlada', Allu who was watching the dialogue being rendered by a boy playing the character of Brihaspathi was not at all pleased with it. He immediately met the contractor and requested him to let him play the role. He would let Allu play the role only if paid five rupees for the opportunity. Unable to raise the amount Allu stole some rice from home and sold it expecting Rs. 5, but got only one and a half rupee in the bargain. He asked his friends to plead on his behalf with the contractor to accept the amount. That was how this great artiste's stage career began, and since then there was no looking back for him.
Engineer, Journalist and Actor
Bapu's mega hit 'Muthyalamuggu' gave Mada a special role. It was short but who could forget his performance in that brief appearance? In fact, Mada, like many others was a stage artiste. People had the first taste of his talent in 'Padmini Swayamveram' in 1946. They were really impressed with his histrionics. As a student in the 50s he was adjudged 'Mr. Arts College' in Rajahmundry. After completing his engineering course at Kakinada he worked as PWD engineer in Hyderabad for some time. But the lure of the films was something he could not resist. He worked as a film journalist for 'Cinejanatha' and later as an assistant to the well-known directors Aadurthi and Viswanath. That marked the beginning of his career as a movie actor in Tollywood.