Chittoor V. Nagaiah, T. R. Rajakumari, T. S. Balaiah, V. Gopalakrishnan, Vidyavathi, Girija, Chaya Devi, ‘Master’ Sudhakar and T. E. Krishnamachari
One of the major hits of Hollywood was “The Way of all Flesh”, which was first made in 1928 and again in 1940. Contrary to popular belief, the film had nothing to do with Samuel Butler’s classic of the same title. The first version (1928) created movie history with Emil Jannings winning the first Oscar Award for ‘Best Actor’, the year the Awards were instituted. In the later version, Akim Tamiroff did the lead role with equal impact.
The second version did well in India too and inspired Indian language versions. The first was in Hindi (“Khazanchi”, 1941) which proved to be a trendsetter of the ‘Hindi musical’ genre. Not many are aware that it ran for 25 long weeks in Sagar Cinema in Madras, mainly because of its music.
Chittoor V. Nagaiah, a legend of south Indian cinema, adapted the film keeping almost the original storyline in the Tamil and Telugu versions, “En Veedu” and “Naa Illu” respectively. The story is about a responsible bank official who gets misled from his straight path, leading to several tragedies in his family life and his ultimate fight for a happy reunion.
While Nagaiah wrote the screen story and composed the music (along with A. Rama Rao), the dialogue was by the famed Tamil writer Sandilyan, a close friend of Nagaiah right from his Vauhini Pictures days (the 1930s).
T. R. Rajakumari played the loving housewife bogged down in the tragedies. Vidyavathi (Ambujavalli) played a supporting role in her debut (her niece is Jayalalitha). T. S. Balaiah played the villain. In a telling sequence of satire, Balaiah, a producer, waits for the music director to turn up for a song composition and guess what — the ‘music director’ turns out to be a Hindi film gramophone record!
In a feature far ahead of its time, Nagaiah had two dance sequences with the songs in Hindi sung by Meena Kapoor of Bombay. The tunes were composed by Nagaiah and Rao.
Gopalakrishnan (Gopi) played the son in one of his impressive early appearances with much impact.
Nagaiah enacted his role brilliantly as usual and moved even the men in the audience to tears. Others playing supporting roles were schoolmaster-turned-movie actor T. E. Krishnamachari (TEK) and Girija (who later became a noted comedienne in Telugu cinema and did supporting roles in Tamil as well). Rajakumari was equally impressive in this tear jerker.
In spite of an interesting storyline and excellent performances by Nagaiah, Rajakumari and Balaiah, En Veedu did not prove successful at the box office and landed Nagaiah in financial crisis, but won high critical praise. The Telugu version which had a slightly different cast too fared badly at the box office.
Remembered for Nagaiah’s excellent performance and for the film’s pleasing music.RANDOR GUY