The inclination to become unfaithful after seven years of marriage was the basis of a famous 1952 Broadway play by George Axelrod which took the celluloid avatar in Bill Wilder’s ‘The Seven Year Itch’ (1955) starring Marilyn Manroe and Tom Well who had reprised his role from the stage play. A married man struggles with the temptation to leave his wife and small child to run off with the young woman next door is the crux of the theme. Marilyn Monroe played the young woman and the movie carried one of the most famous images in cinematic history — Monroe’s dress blowing up by a passing train at a subway.
K.V. Reddy liked the movie and its story idea and entrusted the job of adapting it to Telugu nativity to the wizard of words Pingali Nagendra Rao. Pingali took only the central point of “marital wanderlust” from the Hollywood movie and came up with an entirely new story and characters. This would have been the story for Annapurna Pictures maiden production but for a veto by producer Dukkipati Madhusudana Rao despite the fact that both director K.V. Reddy and hero ANR were for it. Dukkipati felt that the audience may not accept their favourite hero to be shown as the father of three children in most parts of the movie (‘the role lacks glamour. Where is the scope for romantic duets?’) and cheat his wife and hanker after another woman.
Emboldened by the phenomenal success of both Dongaramudu and Mayabazar , K.V. Reddy decided to venture into film production and formed Jayanthi Pictures (P) Ltd., with fellow alumnae at the Presidency College, Madras — P.S. Reddy and T. Pattabhi Rami Reddy (who later produced and directed critically acclaimed films like Samskara ). K.V chose to film the feel good story that Pingali had penned and gave it the title, Pellilnati Pramanalu .
The Story: Bhimasena Rao has a daughter Rukmini and son Pratap, a military officer. Sent by his relative Salahala Rao and his wife Anuradhamma, Krishna Rao, a college mate of Pratap, stays at Bhimasena Rao’s house first as a cook by default and then as a guest. Love blossoms between Krishnarao and Rukmini. Their marriage is performed helmed by a socialist leader who made them take the wedding vows. Krishnarao gets a job at Salahala Rao’s office. Radha joins his office as a typist and irked by his talk about ‘mind control’ and contempt towards employing woman, she decides to teach him a lesson. He falls into her plan, craves for her when his wife takes their three children to visit her father. How Radha wriggles out of the situation and Krishna Rao realises his self form the rest of the story.
Cast & Crew: K.V. never believed in gimmicks in shot taking, angles or technique. With a clean frame and with dramatic narration, he used to tell the story with a straight forward honesty like the man himself. While he produced and directed the movie, K.S. Prasad cranked the camera with T.S. Rajarathnam as the operative cameraman. Thota Venkateswara Rao created the sets.
A few weeks before the release of the movie,’ ANR wrote an article, ‘Nalla kalladdalu’ (dark glasses) in Andhra vara patrika stating that Pellinati Pramanalu was his favourite film and the role he had played in it was one of his all time favourites. He thoroughly enjoyed playing the character of Krishna Rao. Jamuna as Rukmini exuded charm combined with dignified portrayal. Rajasulochana (Radha) brought in mischievous demeanor to her acting with effortless ease. S.V. Rangarao (Bhimasena Rao), Ramana Reddy (Salahala Rao), Chayadevi (Anuradhamma), R. Nageswara Rao (Pratap) were the other major players in this family drama sans villains. In the cast were Sivaramakrishnaiah (R.P. Nanda — Repalle Paramanadaiah), Peketi (salesman), Balakrishna (peon), Surabhi Kamalabai (soothsayer), Sita (friend of Radha), Leelabai (maid), Baby Rathnapapa and Baby Sita. Pingali coined new names for two light bantered characters played by Chadalavada and Allu Ramalingaiah using their professions in the movie, Ammakaalu and Prakatanalu respectively.
Ghantasala composed the music for Pingali’s lyrics. Notable songs were ‘Srimanthuralivai cheluvondu maatha…’ (P. Leela), ‘Vennelalone vedi yelano…’ and ‘Neethone loakamu neethone swargamu (Ghantasala, P. Leela). Pasumarthi Krishnamurthy choreographed for the songs.
Trivia: K.V. wanted to name the film, Bharya Bharthalu . Since it was registered by someone, he had opted for Pellinati Pramanalu .
Ghantasala, during his musical journey had gathered a folk tune which he wanted to adapt for a song in this film. Instead he had used it as a tune (without lyric) during the hero and heroine’s honeymoon trip to Mahabalipuram.
Pellinati Pramanalu was made simultaneously in Tamil titled Vazhkai Oppantham . ANR, Jamuna, SVR and Rajasulochana were retained while replacing R. Nageswara Rao with Nambiar and other characters with popular Tamil actors. Thanjai Ramaiah Das who wrote the dialogue also played a cameo role as the socialist leader. In Telugu, the role was played by M.V.N. Chari, a friend of K.V. Reddy. The Telugu version was released on December 12, 1958 and the Tamil film on September 4, 1959.
“The entire film was shot in three or four sets and only once we went outdoor location to Mahabalipuram. The Telugu version had an above average run while the Tamil film though fared average was pre sold getting back its investment. So it did recover its money,” says Singeetham Srinivasa Rao who had worked as an assistant director.
K.V. and his partners however had one consolation it won the silver medal at the National film awards.