Muthyala Subbaiah is known for his tear jerkers. Now leading a peaceful retired life, the director says, “My films always had a purpose. There are failures but I always aspired to show something new. Most of my successful films had heavy doses of sentiment.” The ace director’s films reflect his thinking and personality and enjoyed a large female audience. A very sentimental and an emotional man, he gives primary importance to relationships. He still cannot get over the death of his close friends and colleagues, T. Krishna, Premchand and Soundarya being a few. The director thinks women have stopped going to the theatres because they get all the entertainment on television and emphasises the need to make movies with women in mind.

Kalikalam (1991)

Cast: Chandramohan, Jayasudha, Saikumar

Banner: JK Films

This one is about neglected parents; how parents go out of their way to do things for their children but how the children neglect them. There was another unforgettable incident during the shooting of this film that the director recalls, “We were shooting at an old building. The light men were fixing the wires on the top of a hilly area and I was standing in front of the camera below. A light man put his foot on a 20 kg stone, it slipped and fell and almost touched me. I moved back just in time. I dread to think what would have happened if I had not moved away..

Aruna Kiranam (1986)

Cast: Vijayashanti, Rajashekar

Banner: Krishna Chitra

I have done 50 films so far, mostly worked with T. Krishna as an assistant director. My first film failed and I then joined as a co director in T Krishna’s team. The producer who made Devalayam and Vandemataram gave me the chance. After Aruna Kiranam was launched, a press meet was organised and T. Krishna too came, and everyone was asked to speak something. He said that everyone remarks that he makes good films but the man who directs him, tells him all the good and bad, pluses and minuses is Muthyala Subbaiah, the co-director. I burst into tears immediately as I was overwhelmed with that compliment. Tell me, who gives credit to a co-director for a film’s success these days? I did revolutionary films but sentimental ones gained more recognition.

Ammayi Kapuram (1995)

Cast: Maheswari, Chandramohan

Banner: T. Krishna Memorial Art Pictures

The banner was started by T. Krishna’s friends after his death. His son Premchand joined as an assistant director and was working with me. He would involve himself in production matters and the production unit sent him out of town in a car, where he met with an accident. We rushed him to the hospital but within ten minutes he died. The film was in his father’s memory but Premchand died without seeing it being completed. We stopped the shooting and for three months we did nothing despite 80 percent being comple. The film eventually got a Golden Nandi. Gopichand was in Russia that time.

Tolivalapu (2001)

Cast: Gopichand, Sneha

Banner: Chitram Movies

Gopichand returned from Russia and came to my office one day and expressed his desire to act. I hadn’t expected it. I thought the movie field didn’t work out well for the family. I observed his features very keenly; he had a good height and looked handsome. He had done a film making course in Russia. We introduced Sneha to Telugu cinema with this project. The producer also said Gopichand was a good choice and it took off. I did my duty as I had an emotional bond with the family. The film did not fare well but the boy withstood the debacle. He was noticed and Teja used him as a villain and there was no looking back. Gopichand is a good man, soft, silent and has a strong will to achieve what he wants.

Pavitra Bandham (1996)

Cast: Venkatesh, Soundarya

Banner: Suresh Productions

Not everyone would agree to do such a negative role, Venkatesh was at the peak of his career but he had no qualms doing it. The character wants to leave his wife one year after his marriage as he loses interest. He later realises life is meaningless without a wife. Ramanaidu and Suresh too okayed it. For the first night scene, Venkatesh falls at his wife’s feet after she prostrates at his feet. ‘Why shouldn’t I?’ he questions as he believes in equality of women. The publicity posters too carried that scene of prostrating and people warned us that fans would create trouble. I stuck to my decision as I felt it was something special.

(as told to y. sunita chowdhary)

(this fortnightly column features the five best works as shared by the maestros of the industry)