BLAST FROM THE PAST Movies

Punarjanma (1963)

Stills of ANR, Krishnakumari, Gummadi and Vasanthi in ‘Punarjanma’  

After back to back successes of Bharya Bharthalu and Kulagothralu, producer A.V. Subbarao and director K Pratyagatma were discussing the subject of their next film for Prasad Art Pictures banner. A friend who came to visit them suggested Gulshan Nanda’s novel, Pathar ke Honth. Both Subbarao and Pratyagatma liked its offbeat theme. The novel is about a scarlet woman’s daughter who, despite her preference to lead a normal lifeto eke a living, entertains rich clients with her song and dance. She is engaged to cure a mentally disturbed person. With Akkineni Nageswara Rao too giving the green signal, Subbarao bought the novel’s Telugu rights.

To bring in nativity Pratyagatma and writer Acharya Athreya brought in several changes in the script, introduced new characters, and pumped in humour to an otherwise serious subject. One of the major changes that Pratyagatma made was to give the story a happy ending, unlike in the novel which ends on a tragic note. Crediting the story to Gulshan Nanda in the titles, Pratyagatma wrote the screenplay and shared the title card as a dialogue writer with Athreya.

The Story

Son of a Jagirdar (played by Gummadi), Gopi (ANR) is a sculptor and an artiste. When his dream girl’s statute which he had sculpted so passionately, catches fire, Gopi gets a mental shock. Before this illness, he and his niece Vasanthi (Vasanthi) are in love. Now, Vasanthi’s mother Yasoda Devi (Suryakantham) stops her from meeting him. Finding that Gopi is responding to music, the Jagirdar seeks the help of a prostitute’s (played by Nirmala) daughter Radha (Krishnakumari) who is a singer and dancer, to keep him company. Radha, longing for a normal family life, accepts his offer. One day when Radha is playing bommala pelli (dolls marriage) game with the children of the Jagirdar’s daughter-in-law Janaki (Sandhya), Gopi suddenly brings his deceased mother’s mangalsutra from the cupboard and ties it to Radha. Jagirdar and his mother (Hemalatha) accept it as a real marriage. In the company of Radha, a gradual change comes about in Gopi gradually and he regains his sanity. However, he forgets his past and renews his love for Vasanthi. A crestfallen Radha leaves for her home and resumes her life as an entertainer. Meanwhile Gopi is confused as some vague remembrances haunt him. Vasanthi reveals the truth. Gopi and Radha are reunited.

Cast & Crew

In Pathar ke Honth the hero in the end falls from the roof and dies. However, Pratyagatma changed it to a happy ending with the hero’s family welcoming the heroine into their fold. Adept at writing taut screenplay, Pratyagatma constructed the scenes well, backed by apt dialogues from Athreya such as Okaru chedinavadu marokaru mathi chedinavadu (Suryakantham to Prabhakar Reddy who played ANR’s drunkard elder brother Giri); Ma brathukulu rahadarlu…bazarlu (Radha to Jagirdar about her profession); Pavithramaina hrudaymgalavaru pathithalu kaaru (Hemalatha after ANR ties the knot to Krishnakumari). The comedy dialogues were written by Pratyagatma. The ace director went for some symbolic shots like the kite caught in a tree branch shown after Gopi ties the knot to Radha. Cinematographer P.S. Selvaraj needs special mention for creating the right mood with his lighting for the crucial scenes between ANR and Krishnakumari. Equal honours go to art director G.V. Subbarao for the art gallery set erected at Saradhi Studios where the movie was shot.

ANR showcased the demented person with ease and subtlety. As Radha, Krishnakumari came up with a touching portrayal, sober yet vibrant. She considers the role as one of her best. Clean and neat portrayals came from Suryakantham as the selfish, scheming modern woman who speaks a mixture of English, Vasanthi as her good natured daughter, Hemalatha, the kind hearted granny and Sandhya as Janaki, the eldest daughter-in-law who at first reluctant to accept Radha into the family, but makes amends for her mistake. Gummadi was natural in such characters which require concern and care for his off spring. In the original novel, the hero’s wayward elder brother’s character has a lot of whip- lashing villainy to it. But, Pratyagatma diluted it to a mere teasing of the hero to scare him in one scene and to have a scuffle with him in the climax. Within the available scope, Prabhakar Reddy made a neat presentation. Ramana Reddy, Padmanabham and Chadalavada filled the comic interludes.

T. Chalapati Rao composed the music. The popular songs include Yevarivo Nee Vevarivo (Lyric: Sri Sri; Singer: Ghantasala and shot on dancer L. Vijayalakshmi), Deepalu Velige Paradalu Tholige (Dasaradhi, P. Susheela) and Nee Kosam Nee Kosam Na Ganam Na Pranam (C. Narayana Reddy, P. Susheela).

Trivia

Vasanthi sported the popular Hindi actress Sadhana’s fringe hair cut called ‘Sadhana cut’.

Punarjanma was a hat-trick film for both Krishnakumari and director Pratyagatma with Prasad Art Pictures banner starting with Bharya Bharthalu (1961) followed by Kulagothralu (1962). Released on August 29, 1963, Punarjanmadespite a novel theme and fine performances turned out to be an average grosser. Seven years later L.V. Prasad made Pathar Ke Honth in Hindi titled Khilona (1970) with Sanjeev Kumar, Mumtaz and Shatrughan Sinha . It was a super hit. Gulshan Nanda who wrote the screenplay stuck to his novel, but taking a cue from Punarjanma , changed the climax to give a happy ending.

The novel was also made as Engirindho Vandhal (Tamil, 1970) and Amrithavaahini (Malayalam, 1976) .


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 3:18:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/punarjanma-1963/article17446844.ece

Next Story