History & Culture


Double delight ANR - EV Saroja in ‘Iddaru Mithrulu’  

Dukkipati Madhusudana Rao’s proclivity towards Bengali themes was well-known. Even Velugu Needalu which did not credit its writer in the film’s titles was loosely based on Asit Sen’s 1956 super hit Bengali movie, Chalachal which was a cinematized version of Ashuthosh Mukherjee’s novel. Asit Sen remade Chalachal in Hindi as Safar (1970).

Basking under the success of Velugu Needalu, Annapurna Pictures acquired the remake rights of yet another Bengali film, Mangal Chakraborty directorial, Tasher Ghar (1957) which had traces of influence of Daphne Du Maurier’s novel ‘The Scapegoat’ Drawing the main characters from the Bengali film, the creative unit of Annapurna Pictures consisting of director Adurthi Subbarao, his associate director K. Viswanath, senior journalist Govindu Rama (Gora) Sastry and producer Dukkipati Madhusudana Rao made several changes in the script by adding new characters and scenes to make it more sprightly and logical than the original version and titled it Iddaru Mithrulu. It was Akkineni Nageswara Rao’s first movie in a dual role.

The Story: The wealthy Ajay and the poor Vijay (both roles played by ANR) are lookalikes. Having met accidentally, they share their miseries and exchange places with each other for a year with an agreement. Ajay’s cunning manager Bhanoji (Gummadi) plan to usurp his wealth. Vijay who is now impersonating Ajay, foils his plots. Bhanoji’s daughter Sarala (Rajasulochana) sincerely loves him. Ajay who is now impersonating Vijay joins as a mechanic and falls in love with colleague Prakash’s (Nanduri Muralikrishna) sister Padma (E.V. Saroja). While settling his sister Meena’s (Sarada) marital life by doling out the money to her avaricious father-in-law (Relangi), he forges his own signature and taken into custody. Bhanoji learns about the agreement between Ajay and Vijay and hastens the marriage of Sarala with Ajay knowing well that he is Vijay. The subsequent events lead to Bhanoji’s confession and the story end on a happy note with real Vijay marrying Sarala and Ajay marrying Padma. Meena and Bujji (Padmanabham) too reunite.

Cast & Crew: When the cinematographer and director can read each other’s mind and work in tandem, the result will be an excellent on screen visual feast. Adurthi’s creative genius coupled with P.S. Selvaraj and his operative cameraman Paachu’s pleasant visuals and the stunning shake hand scene of the two ANRs drew much applause. A medical practitioner from Bapatla and a playwright, Korrapati Gangadhara Rao’s situational dialogues add value to the product.

Playing Ajay and Vijay, ANR was much more spirited and sprightly than the original versions enacted by Uttam Kumar. Gummadi played the cunning villain Bhanoji with excellent result. Though it was her first major film, Sarada as Meena made a memorable contribution with her subtle acting that later won her roles in some great Malayalam movies. Interestingly, in Tasher Ghar too the sister’s (played by Sabitri Chatterjee) name was Meena. The two heroines – Rajasulochana and E.V.Saroja acquitted themselves well. G. Varalakshmi acted as the visually challenged aunt of Ajay. Seshavathaam (played by Allu Ramalingaiah) and Meena’s husband Bujji (Padmanabham) were some of the characters that were tweaked and expanded in the remake. Some new characters were introduced to generate humour and also to take the story forward like Parandhamaiah (Relangi), his kind-hearted wife Suramma (Suryakantham), Vijay’s father Ramadasu (Ramana Reddy) and Ajay’s servants the dumb Venkanna (noteworthy performance by K. Venkateswara Rao) and his daughter Lakshmi (Parvathi).

Dasaradhi Krishnamacharyulu made his film debut with the super hit song, ‘ khushi khushiga navvuthu…’ and wrote few other lyrics along with Sri Sri, Arudra and Kosaraju. Maestro Saluri Rajeswra Rao’s music played a major role in the movie’s success. Notable among the songs were the Ghantasala, P. Susheela renditions, ‘ Paadavela Radhika…,’ ‘ Ee Musi Musi Navvula…’ and Susheela, P.B. Srinivos’s ‘ Chakkani Chukka Sarasaku Raave,’ and Madhavapeddi Sathyam’s, ‘ Sri Rama Nee Naama Mentho Ruchira…’ Traces of influence of western tunes can be found in two of the most popular songs – ‘ Halo Halo O Ammayi…’ (Bob Azzam’s 1960 Arabic song, ‘ Ya Mustafa Ya Mustafa…’) and ‘ Khushi Khushiga Navvuthu…’ (The Kingstone trio -Nick, Bob and John’s 1958 song, ‘ Hang down your head Tom Dooley’) both sung by Ghantasala and Susheela.

Trivia: Saraswati nee Sarada had made her first screen appearance in a minor role in Kanyasulkam and left for native Tenali to pursue a stage career. L.V. Prasad suggested her to Dukkipati for the sister’s role in Iddaru Mithrulu and she never had to look back after that.E.V. Saroja bagged her role rather unexpectedly. Saroja met Dukkipati at Vauhini studios during the shooting of Iddaru Mithrulu and said had he been making it as bilingual she would have got a role just like the one she had played opposite ANR in Thooya Ullam the Tamil version of Velugu Needalu. To her surprise she was signed for the second heroine’s role in Iddaru Mithrulu. ‘Pratibha’ Sastri dubbed the movie in Tamil as I ru Nanbargal and it ran well too. Jagannatha Rao, a small time actor, played body double for ANR. Interestingly in one scene when the two ANRs meet at Ritz Hotel, Hyderabad, the film’s assistant director K.V. Rao played the ‘dupe’ to ANR and thus he became the first actor to play a dupe to a dupe artiste.

Savitri who figured in all the Annapurna pictures films till then was peeved at being left out in the cast but was sportive enough to be the chief guest at the 100-days function of Iddaru Mithrulu (released on December 29, 1961) held at Deepak Mahal, Hyderabad. All the cast and crew were flown from Madras to Hyderabad by a chartered flight for that event.

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Printable version | Jan 12, 2022 8:31:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/history-and-culture/IDDARU-MITHRULU-1961/article14397126.ece

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