Sathi Murali, a joint production of Central Studios and Saba Films, was directed by B. N. Rao along with T. C. Vadivelu Naicker, who wrote the script and was credited in the titles as ‘co-director.'
M. K. Radha, M. R. Santhanalakshmi, T. R. Mahalingam, Nagercoil K. Mahadevan, L. Narayana Rao, Kali N. Ratnam, P. G. Venkatesan, ‘Buffoon' Sankara Iyer, ‘Joker' Ramudu, S. Varalakshmi, T. A. Mathuram and P. S. Gnanam
The story (Naicker) focussed on the caste scourge in society and the need to abolish it. Vadivelu Naicker introduced Lord Krishna and Satyabhama as characters in the story, giving it a mythological touch.
In the film, Sage Narada narrates the story of Seenu (Radha), a devotee born in a lowly community who is blessed by the gods. Seenu falls in love with a high-born woman Murali (Santhanalakshmi). Due to caste differences, the lovers undergo trials and tribulations. Ultimately, thanks to Krishna's blessings, the two are happily united.
Murali was created by Lord Krishna out of his flute and hence the name. M. K. Radha, the handsome hero with memorable hits to his credit such as Chandralekha, Apoorva Sahotharargal and Anadhai Penn, played the lead in his inimitable manner. Trained by his teacher-turned-playwright and screenwriter Madaraas Kandaswami Mudaliar since childhood, he was adept at underplaying roles, and avoided overblown gestures which were common in those days.
T. R. Mahalingam, who had made a splash in the AVM production Nandakumar (1938), played young Seenu. Nagercoil Mahadevan as usual played Narada and sang quite a few songs. Santhanalakshmi played Murali, while S. Varalakshmi, the character's younger version. One of the not-so-well-known features of this film was the male role of Krishna played by Santhanalakshmi.
Interestingly, T.A. Mathuram played the role of Satyabhama, while N. S. Krishnan did not feature in this film. There was a short period when the two had parted ways and Mathuram was cast as heroine in Panduranga (1938). However, the couple buried their differences before long and came together again to create movie history.
Venkatesan, known as the Saigal of South India for his singing talent, played a sadhu who wanders around singing profound songs.
In the absence of NSK, comedy was taken care of by ‘Joker' Ramudu and ‘Buffoon' Sankara Iyer. Though they enjoyed limited popularity then, nobody remembers them today. Sathi Murali was shot at Central Studios but the songbook does not reveal any technical credits, except those of B.N. Rao and Vadivelu Naicker. No print of the film exists today. Most of the songs were based on popular Hindi tunes. However, the film did not do well.
Remembered for the interesting storyline and impressive performances of M. K. Radha, and Santhanalakshmi as Lord Krishna.