P.C. Reddy’s mother wanted him to become a police officer but his mind was set on direction. His father was a village ‘munsab’ and commanded respect but when a cop would come he would stand up; that prompted his mother to compel him to become a police. After the success in films, he bought a car and took his mother to the shooting of an NTR film. NTR was about to prostrate before her and she burst into tears. She considered him Rama, Krishna and saw him in various avatars. He recollects, “NTR consoled my mother and said if I had become a cop I would have been known in just a few villages but because I took up direction I have become famous in the country.” She was convinced.

Badipantulu (1972)

Cast: NTR, Anjali Devi

Perraju (producer)

Triveni Productions

Badipantulu is 40-years old now, and that was my only film with NTR. After the film’s release I was offered ten movies and I accepted them and that was enough to keep me going for a year or so and I did not plan my career well. Many were against NTR playing an aged man’s role. I told him I wanted to narrate a story and he would say “anytime brother!”. It was the first film for the producer and I was the youngest director to have narrated a deep-rooted story between father and son. NTR’s parents saw the film and had tears in their eyes. NTR introduced me to them as the director of the movie, his parents remarked “ aa abbayi yem chesuntadura, antha nuvve chesunntavu .” NTR was embarrassed. I told him that remark was in fact a compliment for me. In the midst of the shooting people continued to say the role wasn’t meant for him at all but the actor would encourage and say dhairyam ga vellandi, cinema peddha hit avuthundi . He had tremendous faith and the film had a box office run of 25 weeks despite the Telangana problem then.

Manavudu Dhanavudu (1972)

Cast: Shoban Babu, Sarada

Mareddy, Chinnappa Reddy (producers)

Ushasri Films

The subject belonged to the producers so their involvement was high in the film. Till the 13th reel we made the audience believe that Shoban Babu was doing a single role. Initially Shoban Babu was apprehensive about the negative character he was portraying but later he admitted that it did him good. He played a doctor during the morning and by dusk he would turn a killer. Shoban Babu would follow instructions like an LKG student and I would ask him why he doesn’t he ask me questions or bother to probe into the character. He would reply, “If I go wrong you are there to correct me.” He did not believe in burdening his mind with unnecessary thoughts that doesn’t concern him.

Illu Illalu (1972)

Cast: Krishna, Vanisri

Subbi Reddy, Subba Rao (Producers)

Nandini films

The comedy by Rajababu and Rama Prabha was a highlight in this film. The song Vinara Sooramma Koothuri Moguda… was a hit. Their performance was as good as Krishna and Vanisri’s. There was an assistant director who would be constantly chewing paan and would instruct the actor to say ‘Puri Koora’ but because his mouth was stuffed, would say ‘Puli Koola’. We used that in the film. Krishna and Vanisri’s combination was good but at that time they had some misunderstandings but even then they worked hard in the night to complete the film on time. They’d do beautiful romantic scenes together, but after the shot, would sit in two different corners. We would laugh it off. It is true there are no permanent friendships or rivalries in cinema.

Paadi Pantalu (1976)

Cast: Krishna, Vijayanirmala

Padmalaya

This is the first film in which I got my name mentioned in the credits for story also. I thought I would do the film for Nandini Films but Krishna asked me as to what happened to the story I was to narrate. Krishna’s brother Hanumantha Rao was the real hero, he completed the film in 42 days and in the highest budget which was 22 lakhs. The norm was not to spend more than 15 lakh. Krishna was going through a lean period and this was a big hit. I was considered the best in making village stories and 50 percent of the schemes for villages that politicians talk are from my movies. Jitendra wanted the film to be made in Hindi but we couldn’t do because we did not get artistes like Chaya Devi and Suryakantham. I did 22 films with Krishna. He was responsible for me moving base to Hyderabad.

Kottha Kapuram (1975)

Cast: Krishna, Bharati

Bharani Pictures

My guru was director Jagannath and his wife would write novels and short stories. They treated me like a son and when he passed away, I wanted to use his wife’s story as a movie and give her the credit. I wanted to have the satisfaction of seeing her name on the screen.

The producers those days would just insist on a good cinema and would leave everything for us to decide. Kapuram kottha kapuram… written by Cinare and music by Mahadevan was a hit. We roped in Chandrakala as the heroine, but after three days of shoot we replaced her with Bharati. We wanted S.V. Ranga Rao and we chose Gummadi instead. Incidentally, the movie was shot during the early days of Krishna-Vijayanirmala marriage.

(as told to y. sunita chowdhary)

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

NTR consoled my mother and said if I had become a cop I would have been known in just a few villages but because I took up direction I have become famous in the country