BLAST FROM THE PAST Friday Review

Jayasimha (1955)

'Jaisimha'  

January 19, 1955. Vauhini Studios.

Jayasimha and Budhimathi are walking through the streets, disappointed at not getting job as soldiers in the king’s army. A woman dressed as man riding on a horse meets them and gives to Jayasimha a ring with royal insignia with which he can present himself before the king saying that she has been sent by princess Padmini. Jayasimha, prince of the neighbouring country now in exile as Bhavani Prasad, gives his ring to her as a return gift saying he does not take anything free.

This was the scene shot on the first day of the shooting for National Art Theatre’s (NAT) third venture, Jayasimha. NTR and Relangi played Jayasimha and Budhimathi respectively while the princess’s maid Madhavi’s role was enacted by Rakthakanneru Sita. princess Padmini was portrayed by newcomer Waheeda Rehman.

NTR founded his production company NAT with an intention to make message oriented movies. Though his first two productions, Pitchi Pullaiah and Thodudongalu won critical appreciation, they left him with a huge monetary loss. A disheartened NTR told his production chief and relative Atluri Pundarikakshaiah that they should sell their cars and henceforth travel by bicycles. His producer-brother Nandamuri Trivikrama Rao and Pundarikakshaiah suggested to him that they should make a folk tale for their next venture. NTR also felt it as safe bet to produce folklore as three of his starrers in a row, Pathala Bhairavi, Chandirani, and Rechukka were big hits. Thus was born the story of Jayasimha.

The Story: Malawa king Amarasimha dies leaving his son Jayasimha under the care of his brother Rudrasimha and his wife Durgadevi. Despite his wife and son Vijayasimha’s objections, Rudrasimha plans to usurp the kingdom. He even plots to kill Jayasimha. After learning his uncle’s intentions, a dejected Jayasimha leaves the country and on his way saves the Magadha princess Padmini from bandits and her father king Raghuveer from his enemies. He stays incognito as Bhavani Prasad at an old soldier Ranadheer’s house after befriending his nephew Budhimathi. Ranadheer’s daughter Kalindi falls in love with Bhavani Prasad but respects his feelings when he calls her his sister and even sacrifices her life while saving him from his captors. The Magadha army chief Mahaveer plans to marry Padmini and joins hands with Rudrasimha to eliminate Jayasimha. But their plot is thwarted by Jayasimha and Vijayasimha.

Cast & Crew: Technically a well made film, full marks to director Yoganand for his smooth narration. Samudrala Jr. wrote crisp dialogues. M.A. Rehman contributed with excellent cinematography and veteran editor G.D. Joshi with slick editing. ‘Stunt’ master Somu’s contribution was no less. His fights compositions with axes and torches thrilled the children and adult audience alike.

NTR’s charisma came to the fore one more time in a role that he had perfected in his earlier folklore movies. He always encouraged talent. Kantharao (Vijayasimha) and Rajanala (Mahaveer) were fine examples. Both of them benefited hugely from the film’s success. Anjali Devi as Kalindi displayed her prowess in the scene in which she acts as a lunatic to save the hero. S.V. Rangarao played Rudrasimha and Gummadi as Ranadheer. In fact it was Waheeda’s debut film and she never showed any signs of a newcomer thanks to the training she had from Pundarikakshaiah who himself was an actor. Interestingly, ‘Shavukaru’ Janaki lent her voice to her with perfect lip sync.

T.V. Raju’s music largely contributed to the movie’s success. He was assisted by the talented Sathyam. ‘Jaya Jaya Sri Rama Raghuvara’ (Ghantasala), ‘Madiloni Madhurabhavam,’ (Ghantasala & Rao Balasaraswati) and P. Susheela’s classical rendition ‘Nadireyi Gadichene cheliya…’ became popular. Some of the hit numbers drew inspiration from Hindi songs. The duet ‘Ee naati ee haayi…’ rendered by Ghantasala and P. Leela was taken from Ghulam Mohammed’s composition, ‘Jindagi dene vale sun…’ (‘Dil- E- Naadan’) and Rao Balasaraswati, A.P. Komala’s rendition, ‘Manasaina cheli pilupu…’ adapted from Shyamsundar’s composition, ‘chori chori aagse dilme…’ ( ‘Dholak’) are examples.

Trivia: Though not acknowledged in the titles, 'Jayasimha's story line was largely based on the novel, 'Veera Puja' written by Balantrapu Venkatarao and Voleti Parvateesam the legendary poets duo popular as, Venkata Parvateeswara Kavulu.

Though Rojulu Maaraayi was her first release, Waheeda Rehman signed and faced the camera for the first time for Jayasimha. Interestingly, Jayasimha was her third release as in between she appeared in a dance sequence in Vithalacharya’s maiden Telugu film, Kanyadaanam (release date: July 14, 1955).

Kantharao shared screen space with NTR for the first time in Vaddante Dabbu though in a brief role and Jayasimha was their second film together.

Gummadi wrote in his memoirs, “After shooting the song, Jaya Jaya Sri Rama, I removed the makeup and sat next to NTR. Anjali Devi asked NTR ‘who is this boy?’ NTR had a hearty laugh and replied, ‘Till now he is the one who acted as your father.’ I can never forget the surprised expression on Anjali Devi’s face. As an actor it was the most memorable moment in my life.”

Released on October 21, 1955, Jayasimha ran for over 100 days in many centers.


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The trivia in the article has been corrected for a factual error.

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