Starring Bhanumathi Ramakrishna, Akkineni Nageswara Rao, C.S.R. Anjaneyulu, Amarnath, Ramana Reddy, Chandrasekhar, Dr. B. Sivaramakrishnaiah, Vangara Venkata Subbaiah, Allu Ramalingaiah, T.G. Kamaladevi, Venkumamba, Suryakantham, Chayadevi, Leelakumari.
1953 proved an eventful year for both director Ramakrishna and his star wife Bhanumathi. If the former tasted big success with his offbeat movie, Brathukutheruvu, his first for an outside banner, Bhanumathi debuted as a director with the record-making three-language film, Chandirani, which too was a commercial success. It was not only challenging but also an exhausting task for both. While Ramakrishna handled a theme on human suffering, Bhanumathi directed a folk action film, that too in three languages, besides acting in it as the heroine. Perhaps to overcome all the stress they had undergone, the talented couple decided to go in for a light story for their own production house Bharani Pictures. Also the fact that Anjali Devi’s total comedy, Pakkinti Ammayi (1953) had proved a big commercial success, seemed to have played a part in the couple selecting a humorous story. They engaged author-journalist Ravuru Venkata Satyanarayana Rao to write the story, dialogue and also the lyrics. Subsequently, Ravuru wrote for Ghantasala’s home production, Sonthavooru (1956).
A popular writer of the time, Ravuru had started his career with Krishnapatrika in Machilipatnam and later worked in the editorial section of Andhra Prabha. His column Ashamaashi, in which he wrote on serious subjects in a lighter vein, was very popular in those days. He came up with the story of Chakrapani, a penny-pincher and his naughty grand daughter.
The story: The world and his family may call him a miser, but Chakrapani (CSR) has one goal in life – to save one lakh rupees by cutting down on whatever expenses he feels are avoidable. After his son’s death, he takes care of his daughter-in-law Visalakshamma (Venkumamba), grandson Jagannadham (Chandrasekhar), grand daughters Santha (T.G. Kamaladevi), Malati (Bhanumathi), and Revathy (Leelakumari). Among them Malati is the naughtiest and plays pranks on her grandfather, taking digs at his miserly ways. She instigates her brother to pick up a row with the old man, which leads to Jagannadham’s exit from the house. Not willing to spend much money on his grand daughters’ weddings, Chakrapani gets an elderly widower Ananda Rao (Ramana Reddy) for Santha and a dumb fellow for Malati. On the day of the marriage, Malati leaves home and boards a train while the meek Santha marries Ananda Rao and takes her younger sister Revathy along with her. In the train, Malati meets a considerate couple, Mukunda Rao (Dr. Sivaramakrishnaiah), a veterinary doctor, and his wife Usha (Chayadevi). They take her home and their only son Venkatachalam (ANR) falls in love with her. Malati agrees to marry him and the wedding is performed. Mukunda Rao gets transfer and leaves the town. Malati lets a portion of the house to Manorama (Suryakantham). Venkatachalam joins an insurance company which requires him to travel frequently.
Meanwhile, Chakrapani reaches his target of saving one lakh rupees and decides to give it to his great grandson. Revathy conveys this to Malati and also informs her that Santha is pregnant. Ananda Rao hopes that she will deliver a boy, but Santha gives birth to a girl. On the advice of Manorama (Suryakantham), Malati in order to get hold of the property, writes to her grandfather that she has delivered a boy. Chakrapani arrives to see the child. Chalam was on an official tour at that time. Manorama brings a child from the opposite house and the boy was shown to Chakrapani as Malati’s son. To bring authenticity to the drama, Manorama’s brother Saradhi (Amarnath) is made to act as Malati’s husband, Chalam. On the same day, Chalam too returns from his tour and was introduced to Chakrapani as the cook. And from there on the story takes a number of comic twists and turns and ultimately Chakrapani is elated that the money is going to the rightful heir- his great grandson, who happens to be none other than the son of his estranged grandson, Jagannatham. But Jagannadham declares that women have equal rights to property and that he will share the money with his sisters.
Way back in 1954 when equal rights for women over property were not even a discussion point, the movie left a message. The entire narrative in the movie is full of wit, thanks to Ravuru’s humorous dialogue and fine performance by all major actors – ANR, Bhanumathi, CSR, Kamaladevi, Amarnath, Ramana Reddy, Suryakantham and others. As usual Bhanumathi dominated the proceedings and came up with a career-best hilarious show, sustaining with ease the tempo throughout. ANR matched her with his comic timing and expressions.
Apart from performances, excellent cinematography by P.S.Selvaraj, the musical score by Bhanumathi helped the film’s box-office success. Her renditions – ‘Uyyala jampalalooga raavaya…,’ ‘Pakkala nilabadi…,’ ‘Nanu choosi intha jaali yelanamma,’ and A.M. Raja’s ‘O Priyuraala… O Jawaraala’ needs mention. Addepalli Ramarao and the popular violinist of the time, Hari Achyutharama Sastry, provided the background score that enhanced the film’s quality.
Interestingly, when Bhanumathi reworked the story and made it as Athagaru Zindabad (director: P.Chandrasekhar Reddy) in 1988 as a tribute to her husband, her attempt did not meet with similar success.