K. (Krishnamachari) Balaji was active in Tamil Cinema in the fifties and sixties, and played the lead in many movies. He was the grandson of Dewan Bahadur T. Rangachari, a leading lawyer of the Madras High Court. Rangachari attended the Commonwealth Conference as a delegate held at Canberra, Australia, and also presided over the Government of India Film Enquiry Committee and submitted its voluminous report containing the early history of Indian Cinema in detail.
Balaji was the son of Krishnamachari and his Malayalee wife. After his high school education, he worked for a short while with the Madras Telephones and was drawn to theatre. He made his debut in movies in a minor role in the S.S. Vasan-Gemini Studios classic Avvaiyar . Joining Narasu Studios as production in-charge, he graduated to playing the hero. He was denied a share of the family property and his mother took the matter to court and won a share inheriting a bungalow on Pantheon Road, Egmore. (It bears the name ‘Canberra,’ the Australian capital where the Commonwealth Conference, attended by his grandfather, was held.)
He graduated from acting to production in which he enjoyed much success and most of his movies were remakes of Hindi hits. (He once told this writer that he often made trips to Bombay and engaged a taxi and while travelling he would speak to the driver, asking him about new Hindi movies and how they were faring. Based on such recommendations, both would watch the movies and if he was impressed he would negotiate the remake rights! A novel way of buying movies but that was the drive Balaji had!)
Utthami Petra Rathinam was presented by the successful multilingual producer of Indian Cinema M.M.A. Chinnappa Thevar under the banner Amara Productions. Thevar’s brother, talented editor-filmmaker M.A. Thirumugam, directed the movie, besides editing it. The script was by Thevar Films’ ‘stock writer’ Aaroor Das, while the music was by well-known Telugu film music composer T. Chalapathi Rao (a cousin of the famed Indian filmmaker T. Prakash Rao), who composed music for Tamil movies too.
The lyrics were by Thanjai Ramaiah Das, A. Marudhakasi, and Subbu Arumugham. T.M. Soundararajan, P.B. Sreenivos, A.L. Raghavan, P. Susheela, Jikki, P. Leela. S. Janaki and S.C. Krishnan lent their voices to the songs.
There was a dance sequence by noted actress Sukumari choreographed by the well-known team Chopra, Hiralal, and S.M. Rajkumar.
C.V. Murthi was the man behind the camera. The film was shot at Vijaya-Vauhini Studios.
Malini hailing from Andhra who shot to fame with Sabhash Meena played the heroine and was supported by veterans like T.K. Ramachandran, S.V. Sahasranamam, Pandari Bai, Kannamba, S.V. Subbaiah, and P.D. Sambandam.
Interestingly, the comedy pair was Manorama and Kuladeivam Rajagopal on whom a duet was filmed. Nagesh’s name appears in the credit titles, but his role was minor. The story is long and complicated, with many twists and turns.
Thematically, it is about the problems between the rich and the poor and the rich man’s daughter falling in love with the poor boy whose father works for the rich man. The others eye the property and the women, and how these problems are solved forms the rest of the story.
In spite of the formidable cast, interesting onscreen narration and pleasing music, the film did not do well mainly because of the complicated and somewhat familiar storyline.
Remembered For: the impressive performances of Balaji, Malini, Rajam, Pandari Bai, Sahasranamam, and Subbaiah and the comedy scenes of Rajagopal and Manorama.