Rajkumar, Bharathi, Arathi, Balakrishna and M.P. Shankar
Based on the late T.K. Rama Rao’s novel“Bangarada Manushya” with Rajkumar playing the lead role and Siddalingiah behind the camera hit the screen in 1972.
Supported with a sound star cast including Bharathi, Arathi, Advani Lakshmi Devi, M.P. Shankar, Balakrishna, Vajramuni, Sringar Nagaraj and Lokanath, the film has earned the distinction of being the first-ever Kannada cinema to run for over two years with at the State cinema hall on the K.G. Road in Bangalore. Produced by R. Lakshman and Gopal, under the banner Srinidhi Productions, the film set new standards in the production design. In contrast to the traditional approach, the producers preferred an open discussion with the crew and preliminary survey of outdoor shooting venues. While Lakshman was a Kannada activist closely associated with a league of frontline writers such as Aa. Na. Krishna Rao and Ma. Na. Murthy and managing the famous Bharat Talkies on the J.C. Road, Gopal was his close associate with a penchant for cinema. An educated youth sacrificing his personal life for the sake of his elder sister’s family and renouncing everything to protect the family’s integrity formed the main plot of the film. The film also spoke of rural development, modern agricultural practices, co-operative movement, social unity, honesty, love and dedication with tragic undertones.
Although the characterisation of the protagonist Rajiva was traced to the hero of “Kasturi Nivasa” (a classic released in 1971 with Rajkumar in the lead role), reflections of rural realities, intelligent screenplay, poignant situations, apt dialogues, and rich outdoor locale (most of the film was shot in Kalasa village in Chikmagalur district) mesmerised the audience.
Despite the overwhelming response, the film attracted strong criticism from a section of writers. Commenting on the purpose and narrative mode of the film, the late novelist Alanahalli Krishna said, “The film shows scant respect to the audience by showing a close-up of the hero’s footwear in the very beginning of the film. It encourages idol worship.” On the other hand, writer U.R. Ananthamurthy said the film was deceptive and would lead the young audience believe that they too will grow rich overnight like their hero Rajiva in the film. Irrespective of the flak, the film was set to redefine the course of Kannada commercial cinema. “Bangarada Manushya” had drawn the audience to the cinema hall in an unprecedented manner.
After the film ran for a year just at the State cinema in Bangalore , the management of the cinema hall decided to stop screening the film to accommodate a new film. This caused public outrage and took a violent turn. However, S. Bangarappa, the then MLA, intervened and resolved the issue successfully. The film went on to complete two years.
The veteran music director G.K. Venkatesh composed songs for the film and the two romantic songs “Aaha Mysooru Mallige” and “Baala Bangaara Neenu, Haneya Singara Neenu” have withstood the test of the time.
To be remembered for: The film drew unprecedented crowds to the cinemas.K.N. VENKATASUBBA RAO