Gemini Ganesan, Savithri, Anjali Devi, S.V. Ranga Rao, A. Nageswara Rao, Pasupuleti Kannamba, K.A. Thangavelu and M.N. Rajam
Writer, poet and dramatist Rabindranath Tagore has inspired many filmmakers not only in Bengal but also in other parts of India. One of his stories, The Wreck, has been filmed in many languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu. The year 1956 witnessed the successful multilingual filmmaker T. Prakasa Rao making his version of the story titled Madhar Kula Manickam. It had Gemini Ganesan as hero supported by Savithri, Anjali Devi, A. Nageswara Rao, S. V. Ranga Rao, P. Kannamba, Thangavelu and M. N. Rajam.
As boat travel is not familiar in this part of the country (except Kerala), Prakasa Rao grabbed the opportunity that presented itself to him and the producers when a major train accident took place at Ariyalur. The filmmaker took his crew to the scene of the accident and shot much footage which he successfully blended into his movie.
The husband presuming his wife dead remarries. She survives and comes to the husband’s household to work as a servant. Sounds familiar? It all began with Tagore. (This storyline has been used over and over again in movies and television in India). Both Savithri and Anjali Devi excelled in their performances. Produced by Shankar Reddi who made a bonanza with his Lava Kusa in Telugu, the film was written by Sridhar, then making his way up fast. The music was by Salur Rajeswara Rao.
S. S. Vasan remade this film in Hindi as Gharana and with his Midas touch it turned out to be a big hit. The Wreck was also made in Hindi but it was not such a big success.
The Telugu version Charanadasi was also a hit, winning laurels for Prakasa Rao, Anjali Devi and Savithri.
Melodious music was provided by Salur Rajeswara Rao who created history at many levels. Besides being a genius in composing and orchestration, he was an actor, and as a kid and teenager played memorable roles in films such as the Gemini Studios box office bonanza Balanagamma.
He was also a singer and recorded many romantic songs privately, many of which are favourites to this day in Andhra Pradesh. After leaving Gemini Studios he worked for Nagi Reddy-Chakrapani and created melodious songs in hits such as Missiamma. That was not all. He was one of the earliest South Indian composers who introduced Spanish rhythms and tunes to South Indian cinema. His music direction in films such as Apoorva Sahodarargal and Chandralekha contributed much to their success.
Tatineni Prakasa Rao is one of the big names in South Indian Cinema. He made several hits in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi which are still favourites with moviegoers. A staunch Leftist, he worked hard and left his stamp on every frame. Some of his major hits are Palleturu, Nirupedhalu, Amara Deepam, Charanadasi, Illarikam, Saasuraal, Ellorum Innattu Mannar, Utthama Putthiran, Kaathiruntha Kangal, Padagotti, Bahurani, Suraj, Ghar Ghar ki Kahani and Engalalum Mudiyum (an award-winning children’s movie written by this writer in which he also played the role of a top cop! It was dubbed into six languages with success). Mathar Kula Manickam was a successful movie and remade in more than one language with success.
Remembered for the interesting storyline, impressive performances by Gemini Ganesan, Anjali Devi, Savithri, Ranga Rao and ANR and deft direction by Prakasa Rao, besides the pleasing music.