M. K. Radha, R. Nagendra Rao, L. Narayana Rao, P. Bhanumathi, G. Pattu Iyer, Lakshmiprabha, Suryaprabha and `Stunt' Somu
Apoorva Sahodarargal (Strange Brothers), a Gemini Studios production, directed by lawyer-turned-filmmaker T. G. Raghavachari (Acharya), was another major success of 1949. Adapted from the famous Alexandre Dumas novel “The Corsican Brothers”, the film was much influenced by the equally famous Hollywood movie in which Douglas Fairbanks Jr. played the dual role of the twins with great impact. To play the twins, M. K. Radha of Chandralekha fame, who was a Gemini-staffer, was engaged, and P. Bhanumathi as the heroine. As there was no one suitable to play the villain’s role of Marthanda Bhoopathi, P. U. Chinnappa, noted singing star of the day, was approached. However, he refused to don the mantle, as he felt it would blemish his hero image! Raghavachari and his men were at a loss. For a while, they contemplated casting Ranjan in that role but it did not work.
S. S. Vasan had a bright idea. The Kannada veteran stage and screen star R. Nagendra Rao was meeting the Gemini boss regularly about a film he was planning to produce. Vasan suggested to Raghavachari, “Why not Nagendra Rao as villain?” At first it seemed an astonishing idea but turned out to be interesting and worthwhile on second thoughts!
Nagendra Rao’s Tamil was not so good but he was highly talented. He literally stole the show with his excellent performance. He was well past his prime but his acting skills concealed his minus points.
The film had tuneful music (S. Rajeswara Rao, M.D. Parthasarathy, Reema) and, as in any Gemini Studios picture, production values were of the highest order — sets, costumes, dances and the lot. Bhanumathi soared to new heights with her facile acting, good singing and innate charm. A song, ‘Laddu…Ladduuu…’ (lyrics Kothamangalam Subbu, V. Sitaraman, it had lines in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi.) she sang to escape from the villain’s servants, was brilliantly enacted by her and it became a highlight.
A duet meant for the Hindi version was composed on the piano by Rajeswara Rao, and Vasan liked it so much he wanted it for the Tamil version too. This song was added after the shoot was over! Acharya invested the song sequence with fine creative touches — Radha’s hand covering Bhanumathi’s and both their hands gliding across the ivory keys of the piano! ‘Maanum Maiyilum Aadum Solai…’ (the opening lines of the piano song) became quite popular.
Apoorva Sahodarargal was a major success both at the box-office and with the critics. Acharya came in for much praise. As usual, moviegoers played guessing games over who on earth this ‘Acharya’ was...!
Apoorva Sahodarargal was successfully remade in Hindi as Nishan starring Ranjan and Bhanumathi.
Remembered for the excellent performances of Bhanumathi and Nagendra Rao, and for the music.