starring Mukkamala Krishnamurthy, Anjali Devi, G. Varalakshmi, Kona Prabhakara Rao, Doraswamy, Pundit Rao, Chandrasekhar, Lingam Subbarao, Lakshmikantha, Master Madhu

He was in two minds, whether to play the hero again or not. Though he had started his career as the protagonist Gorakhnath in Maaya Maschindra (1945) and had won kudos for his performance, the film bombed at the box-office. Later, it was only as the antagonist father of Laila in Bharani’s Laila Majnu that Mukkamala Krishnamurthy established himself as an actor and ever since got to play villain roles. But film-maker H. M. Reddy, the father of Telugu talkie, had other ideas. He told Mukkamala clearly that if the story was good and the character well-etched, a good actor could carry the role without any image problem. Convinced by these words, Mukkamala returned to do the lead role in Nirdoshi , a sentimental family drama. Interestingly, Mukkamala, a Madras Law College dropout, played a lawyer in this movie.

Vijay (Mukkamala) is a rich barrister. His father (Pundit Rao) decides to get him married to a relative, Tara (G. Varalakshmi). Her childhood friend Kumar (Chandrasekhar) is in love with Tara, but the ambitious lady opts to marry the affluent Vijay, who is against the proposal. In order to avoid her, Vijay leaves the house without informing anybody, disguises himself as a gardener, and falls in love with Nirmala (Anjali Devi), a village girl. Nirmala’s father (Doraswamy) refuses to get her married to Vijay, assuming that he is after all a gardener. Thereupon, the lovers elope to the city where they get married. Chandraiah (Kona Prabhakara Rao), who had an eye on Nirmala, seeks to take revenge and joins hands with Tara.

In a twist to the tale, they find a look-alike of Nirmala and, through her, create suspicion in the mind of Vijay. A pregnant Nirmala is thrown out of the house, and Tara enters the scene to create further complications. Nirmala gives birth to a child, bears all the sufferings before the truth is out, and finally the young family is reunited .

It was director H. M. Reddy’s deft handling of a complex theme that sustained the interest of audience, who were made to feel that the characters, and not the actors, were enacting the roles. Though a social movie, there is no social issue involved in it. It is all about the selfish motive of a vicious woman, who creates a rift between a doting couple and how the wife struggles to prove her innocence. H.M. Reddy had earlier made Grihalakshmi with a similar theme. Despite the fact that there is a larger element of pathos in Nirdoshi , the director at the same time introduced a liberal dose of humour and satire in each character, thanks to his gifted writers, K. Gopalaraya Sarma and Vempati Sadasivabrahmam, who wrote the story and dialogue besides a few songs. They were ably assisted by Chirravuru Venkata Rao. Sri Sri and Athreya penned the remaining songs. While Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao tuned the songs, Aswathama scored the background music. P.L. Rai cranked the camera.

Nirdoshi proved that a capable filmmaker and talented actors, working together, could make a fine movie. Apart from Mukkamala, who literally lived in the role, showcasing varied emotions coupled with his distinct diction, Anjali Devi and G. Varalakshmi also gave a fine portrayal. Especially, Anjali Devi surprised the audience with her excellent performance as the innocent village belle and suffering housewife. The scene where she conveys through the eyes her anguish, anger and hurt, when her husband disowns her, haunted the audience of the time even after the show was over.

In contrast to her was the character of Tara, played by G. Varalakshmi, who appears truthful and innocent to other characters in the movie, but is the real villain of the story so far as the audience are concerned. A versatile actress, Varalakshmi made such complex character look so simple with her effortless performance. As Chandraiah, Kona Prabhakara Rao gave a convincing portrayal as both a good man and a bad man. Master Madhu, the grandson of H.M. Reddy, attracted the attention of audience with his neat acting. In the end, H. M. Reddy gave a novel finish to the movie with these words: Memandaram Sukhamgaane Unnamu, Inka Meeru Dayacheyavachu (we are all happy, now you may leave).

Nirdoshi was made simultaneously in Tamil as Niraparadhi and had a decent run of 50 days. Interestingly, the doyen of Tamil cinema, Sivaji Ganesan an upcoming actor then, lent voice for Mukkamala in Tamil!

m. l. narasimham