Blast from the past: Krishna Vijayam

Among the 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu, Krishna avatar is perhaps the most interesting when it comes to motion pictures. Krishna’s adventures as a boy, the romance between Radha and Krishna and his role as a destroyer of evil have been exploited by Indian cinema to the hilt. ‘Krishna Leela’ has been a staple theme both on stage and screen (ever since the Silent Era). During the 1950s, when a handsome, young man from Andhra named Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao donned the celluloid avatar of Krishna, he literally became Lord Krishna of the movies. When a temple was built in a small town in Andhra Pradesh dedicated to Lord Krishna, the face of the presiding deity resembled that of N. T. Rama Rao! During 1950, Jupiter Pictures produced the epic story of the birth of Lord Krishna, his boyhood and his elimination of Kamsa. Woven into the story was Krishna’s adventures with the gopikas. Indeed this film was a musical (Chidambaram S. Jayaraman - S. M. Subbaiah, lyrics Papanasam Sivan, T. K. Sundara Vathiyar, Bhoomi Palakadas and K. P. Kamakshi). The role of young Krishna was played by four artistes, including Master A. L. Raghavan. Handsome and blessed with a good voice, Raghavan as Balakrishna made an impact. Later, he became a fairly popular playback singer. He is married to the Tamil cinema star M. N. Rajam.

The ‘adult Krishna’, described in the credit titles as Radhakrishnan, was played by the sadly neglected actor P. V. Narasimha Bharathi, with Radha being played by Trichur Premavathi. Kamsan was played by the well known actor of his day, R. Balasubramaniam. The others in the cast were Nott Annaji Rao, C. V. V. Panthulu, S. A. Natarajan, M. K. Mustafa, M. R. Santhanam, Sayiram and an unknown bit role player called M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar (one of the demons). The female cast, besides Premavathi, included M. S. S. Bhagyam, Lakshmiprabha and Lakshmikantha. There were quite a few girls who played gopikas and they were led by Lalitha-Padmini. Comedienne K. S. Angamuthu was one among them.

Well known Carnatic musician N. C. Vasanthakokilam played sage Narada, obviously inspired by MS doing a similar role in Savithri. Expectedly, Vasanthakokilam sang quite a few songs which were all ragamalikas comprising nearly a dozen Carnatic ragas.

One song by her “Navaneetha Kannaney…” became a hit. (Raga Sindu Bhairavi, music C. S. Jayaraman, lyrics K. P. Kamakshi). Another highlight of the film was a song and dance number, again a ragamalika, by the gopikas who complain to Yashoda, Krishna’s foster mother, about his mischievous deeds. This song, “Ennadi anniyayum idhu… adi Yashoda…”, was sung by a group of playback singers, including P. Leela, K. V. Janaki, T. V. Ratnam and T. R. Bhagirathi.

The film was written and directed by well known editor-filmmaker Sundar Rao Nadkarni.

Krishna Vijayam though made well with melodious music did not fare as well as expected mainly because following the watershed movie Velaikkari (also a Jupiter production), the audience taste began to change slowly but surely.

Remembered for the Carnatic music and the excellent rendering of songs by Vasanthakokilam.

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Printable version | Oct 4, 2022 10:36:09 pm |