Telugu Cinema Movies

1971's 'Bangaru Thalli', the Telugu remake of 'Mother India'

Earthy roles Krishnam Raju; Jamuna; Jamuna with Krishnam Raju and Sobhan Babu

Earthy roles Krishnam Raju; Jamuna; Jamuna with Krishnam Raju and Sobhan Babu  

The movie starred Jamuna, Jaggaiah, Krishnam Raju, Sobhan Babu, Nagabhushanam, Nirmala.

Not every day an actor gets to play such an intense character that travels from being compassionate to being impenitent, but assertive throughout, taking control of things despite facing calamities. Citing this reason, going against the advice of her well-wishers, Jamuna signed to play Annapurna in Bangaru Thalli, a remake of the cult Hindi movie, Mother India. “In my opinion, a true art should reflect various facets of life. Such acting not only brings out the best in the actors but also earns them permanency,” wrote Jamuna in an article in Vijayachitra in 1971.

With a fervour to produce movies of substance, Chegondi Hari Rama Jogaiah (billed in the titles as Chegondi Hari Babu) and Nachu Seshagiri Rao, founded Babu Pictures. The duo acquired the Telugu remake rights of Mehboob Khan’s 1957 classic, Mother India which in fact was a vastly improvised version of Mehboob’s 1940 production, Aurat. Jamuna was their first and only choice to enact the mother’s character which Nargis took to cult status. Tapi Chanakya was signed to direct the movie.

The story

To perform the marriage of her son Rajaiah (played by Jaggaiah) with Annapurna (Jamuna), Seethamma (Nirmala) takes a loan from the cunning money lender Papaiah (Nagabhushanam) whose dubious ways lead Rajaiah to further debts. Annapurna suggests that they cultivate the land that is not under pledge to Papaiah. While digging for a well in that land, Rajaiah loses both his hands. Unable to bear the insults thrown at him by Papaiah, Rajaiah leaves home. His mother dies in shock. Left alone to tend her three sons, Annapurna struggles to make both ends meet. Her third son, a toddler dies in cyclone. Years pass by. With the support of her two grown up sons, the soft natured Ramu (Sobhan Babu), and the rebellious Ranga (Krishnam Raju), Annapurna turns the corner. But Papaiah still collects interest from her with deceitful accounts. This irks Ranga. When he confronts Papaiah, the money lender’s goons beat him. When Ranga hides in the hay stacks, Papaiah’s men burn the stack. Ranga escapes but returns with his gang of armed men, kills Papaiah and kidnaps his daughter Dhanalakshmi (Ramaprabha). When Ranga refuses to leave the girl, Annapurna shoots at him. He dies in her lap. The story is narrated through a flashback when Annapurna recollects her past while she is invited to inaugurate a new canal in the village.

Cast and crew

While recreating the sequences for Bangaru Thalli, Tapi Chanakya faithfully followed the original version structured by Mehboob and writers Wajahat Mirza and Ali Raza. In doing so he missed out on the nativity factor. Mother India was set in Uttar Pradesh where several decades ago dacoits on horseback terrorised people but horseback thugs were unknown to the Telugu land.

Pinisetty Sriramamurthy’s dialogues were largely inspired by Wajahat Mirza’s lines from the Hindi version. Some of Pinisetty’s dialogues were well received. When Annapurna offer her jewels to Rajaiah to clear the debts, Rajaiah refuses to take them and he tells her, appu leni rythu uppu leni koora yekkadaina vuntaayaa (Can you find anywhere a farmer without debt and a curry without salt). Also before firing the rifle at Ranga, Annapurna says, Nenoo aadadaannera tana gowravame naa gowravam. Kaavalante naa kodukunu bali pedathaanu gaani saati aadadaani maanaabhimaanaalu bali kaanivvanu (I am also a woman, her honour is my honour. If necessary I will sacrifice my son but not the honour and dignity of a fellow woman).

Veteran cinematographer Kamal Ghosh made brilliant use of light and shade enhancing the scenes shot in outdoor locations in West Godavari district as well as on the sets at AVM Studios. K A Marthand edited the movie.

Jamuna’s earthy portrayal of the struggling single mother won her many admirers. “The character Annapurna had many shades carrying different emotions. It was mentally and physically exhausting. In the night I read the dialogues thoroughly and practised in front of the mirror before going to the shoot the next day,” wrote Jamuna in her autobiography, Jamunatheeram.

It was Krishnam Raju’s 19th starrer and the up-and-coming actor impressed with his perfect portrayal as the rebel Ranga.

S Rajeswara Rao composed the music and the popular songs were — Yenthaina baruvu ee brathuku (lyrics: Devulapalli Krishna Sastry, singers: Susheela, Vasantha, Latha) and Palleseema mana pantaseema (Dasarathi; Ghantasala, Susheela, Pithapuram Nageswara Rao, Swarnalatha).


Jamuna watched the movie at Vinoda Talkies, Vijayawada and was overwhelmed at the audience response to her acting.

Nargis was 28 when Mother India was released in which she played mother to Sunil Dutt and Rajendra Kumar who were of her age. Jamuna was 35 when she acted as mother to a 34 year old Sobhan Babu and 31 year old Krishnam Raju.

Krishnam Raju’s role of the rebellious Ranga established him as an actor in aggressive characters which later earned him the moniker, ‘Rebel Star.’

However, comparisons were inevitable and Bangaru Thalli failed at the box office, unable to meet the standards set by the lavishly made and well- enacted Technicolor film, Mother India which had many reruns till 1970 across the country, including the then united Andhra Pradesh.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 12:52:52 AM |

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