Blast from the past Friday Review

Chivaraku Migiledi (1960)

Impressed by their friend’s debut film, Ma Inti Mahalakshmi winning accolades, awards and box office success, Vuppunuthula Purushotham Reddy and his friends (M. Sathyanarayana Rao, Palwai Govardhana Reddy, G. Vidyasagara Reddy and Mandalreddy Kondalreddy) met G. Ramineedu to work on a film for them. They told him that they wanted to produce a quality film and a not clichéd product. It was in 1959.

Bengal connection

Ramineedu led them to Calcutta where on the advice of film scribe Saroj K. Sengupta they watched Asit Sen’s offbeat Bengali film, Deep Jele Jai based on a short story Nurse Mitra by Ashuthosh Mukherjee who also wrote for the screen version. The film was termed as a big hit in major centres all over West Bengal but fared dismally among rural audience. The movie in general and Suchitra Sen’s heartwarming performance appealed to the producer and the director but one of the producer’s friends expressed doubt about its box office potential back home as it was too classy. After watching some more Bengali films, finally Purushothama Reddy said that ‘whether we lose or gain, let’s make a good film’ and bought the rights of Deep Jele Jai and returned to Madras with print of the film.

Ramineedu approached his debut film’s heroine, Jamuna to play the lead in the Telugu version titled, Chivaraku Migiledi Remuneration issues cropped up and Ramineedu remembered that Savitri promised to work with him in his next film. After watching Deep Jele Jai , Savitri was so moved by the story she immediately said ‘yes’ and signed the film at a very nominal remuneration. She even bought the Tamil remake rights at a good price. Of course she never remade it in Tamil.

Ramineedu introduced Atluri Pitcheswara Rao as the dialogue writer. Literary wizard Malladi Ramakrishna Sastry guided him.

The Story: Nurse Padma (Savitri) is entrusted by Col. S.R. Chandra (Prabhakara Reddy) to treat jilted lover Bhaskar (Kantharao) applying the method of developing emotional relationship with the patient. While treating him, Padma falls in love with him. Bhaskar is cured. Listening to Chandra’s conversation with Padma he believes that Padma’s love is only a play act. Padma is crestfallen when Bhaskar gives his wedding invitation to her. Padma cures another abandoned lover Prakasam (Balaiah) applying the same method of treatment. Cured now, Prakasam deeply falls in love with her. Truamatised Padma unable to forget Bhaskar and not able to love Prakasam, ends up in the hospital as a mental patient. Dr. Chandra repents that he has seen Padma only as a nurse, not as a woman.

Cast & Crew: Produced under Manjeera Films Pvt. Ltd banner, the movie was made at a budget of Rs.2, 20,000 in 22 shooting days. Ramineedu faithfully followed Asit Sen’s version with almost identical sets and props (art director V.V. Rajendra Kumr –debut) and framings (cinematographer: M.K. Raju). If it was Room No. 24 for the special ward there, it was 24 for the Telugu version too. If Tapas (Anil Chatterjee) gave a peck on Radha (Suchitra Sen)’s left side of the neck to express his fondness towards her, Prakasam does exactly the same with Padma. If Radha wore the wrist watch on her right hand Padma did so. Even the dialogues bore striking similarity. V. Anki Reddy debuted as an Editor with this film.

Savitri scores

Ramineedu opined that in some key scenes including the climax, Savitri outclassed Suchitra Sen’s acting. Waheeda Rehman who played the role in its Hindi remake directed by Asit Sen, titled Khamoshi (1969) said in an interview that she could not meet the standards set by Savitri for the character. Savitri put her performance in Chivaraku Migiledi on top of her list of films. Kantharao and Balaiah came up with neat portrayals. Prabhakar Reddy was a friend of producer Purushothama Reddy and when he was in his fourth year MBBS, he had participated in an inter-college drama competition for which Ramineedu was one of the judges. Impressed by his acting, Ramineedu promised him a role.

The MBBS graduate debuted in films playing the role of a chief doctor. Later he became a sought after character actor and villain in many films and produced some quality films. Haranath made a guest appearance as an inpatient in the mental hospital. Malini played Lakshmi the singer who ditches Balaiah.

To infuse some humour in the otherwise serious story, Ramineedu introduced a couple of comic scene involving Ramana Reddy (Prakasam’s cousin), Junior Bhanumathi (nurse Krishnaveni), Chadalavada (Prakasam’s father), comedians Balakrishna, Sitaram, Nalla Rammurthy, Rajababu etc.

Aswathama composed the music for Malladi Ramakrishna Sastry, Arudra and Kosaraju’s lyrics. He borrowed two hit tunes of Hemant Kumar Mukherjee from Deep Jele Jai. They were - Ghantasala’s renditions, Sudhavol Suhasini… ( Ei Raath Tomar Amaar sung by Hemant Kumar) and Ayinavaru naakevaru oho vinu Mister ( Emon Bondhu Ar Ke Ache Tomar moto Mister- Manna Dey). The other popular songs were – Chinnaree nee manase (debut singer Sunanda), Kavikokila teeyani palukulalo (P. Susheela), Andaaniki andam nene (Jamuna Rani) and Chengoona ala meeda (M.S. Ramarao).

Trivia: Producer V. Purushotham Reddy later served as minister in Kasu Brahmananda Reddy and Jalagam Vengalarao’s cabinets. He was the Chairman of Telangana Regional Development Council in Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s government.

K.V. Reddy switched on the camera for the opening shot. When another producer approached him with a similar request, K.V. told him, ‘Look what happened to Chivaraku Migiledi at the box office. I do not mind coming, if you want me to.’ A smiling K.V. later told his friends that the producer never returned to him.

Chivaraku Migiledi was a box office failure but hailed as a timeless classic.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 3:41:00 PM |

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