Blast from the past History & Culture

Appu Chesi Pappu Koodu (1959)

Jaggaiah, Savitri, NTR in APPU CHESI PAPPU KOODU  

In keeping with the Vijaya Productions tradition of alternating between contemporary family dramas (popularly known as saanghika chithraalu or social films) and folklore-mythologies, after producing the record-making epic Mayabazar it was time to make a social film. As decided earlier it was also the turn of the Chakrapani-L.V. Prasad duo to take over from the folklore-mythology specialist K.V. Reddy. Adept at humour writing replete with sardonic digs on contemporary life, Chakrapani came up with the story of two diametrically opposite elderly men, one an eternal debtor whose motto was to extract the maximum loans from minimum number of creditors and the other, a rich gentleman with a false prestige whose life’s ambition was to get his granddaughter married to a boy from a royal family. Chakrapani along with Sadasivabrahmam and director Prasad developed the story line into a full length movie script and titled it Appu Chesi Pappu Koodu (ACPK) a popular Telugu idiom that denotes luxurious living on borrowed money. Sadasivabrahmam penned the dialogues loaded with wit and subtle humour. Incidentally, it was the only film that the ace writer wrote for the banner.

The Story: Dewan Bahadur Mukundarao searches for a prince as a bridegroom for his granddaughter Manjari. Deeply sunk in debts, Rao Bahadur Ramadasu, in order to usurp Mukundarao’s wealth plans to perform his already married son Dr. Raghu’s wedding with Manjari and bribes Mukundarao’s manager Ramalingam for this purpose. Raghu returns from London after ten years. Ramadasu tells his son that his wife Leela is dead. Leela’s brother Raja is released from jail after serving the sentence for his role in freedom struggle. His college mate Manjari receives him. Cornered by Raja, Ramadasu agrees to let Leela stay in his house as a dumb servant. To set things right for his sister, Raja wears different get ups including the guise of a prince and impresses Mukundarao. Manjari who is in love with Raja joins the game plan. Meanwhile Raghu recognises his wife Leela and he too plays his part adding hilarity to the drama. How the youngsters bring the elders to senses form the rest of the plot.

Cast & Crew: What starts as the humorous tale of debtor and creditors soon turns into a predominantly family drama with sibling sentiment and love track. Despite too many characters, Prasad’s deft handling made the scenes flow smoothly. Stalwarts in their field, Marcus Bartley cranked the camera and Kalyanasundaram and Radhakrishna were the editors. But somehow the magic of Chakrapani and L.V. Prasad who created such light banter classics as Pelli Chesi Choodu and Missamma was missing in ACPK. Perhaps the audience of the time too felt that. Released for Sankranthi (January 14th) 1959, it had an average run for the first four weeks but picked up later taking it to the above average slot salvaging some prestige for the highly successful Vijaya banner established by Nagi Reddi-Chakrapani. In tailor made roles, it was an easy task for the actors – NTR (Raja), SVR (Mukunda Rao), CSR (Ramadasu), Jaggaiah (as Raghu; his first film for the Vijaya banner), Ramana Reddy (Ramalingam), Relangi (Bhajagovindam, nephew of Ramalingam and a friend of Raja), Savitri (Manjari), Jamuna (Leela), Girija (Usha, daughter of Ramalingam in love with Bhajagovindam) and Suryakantham (Rathamma, Ramalingam’s wife). Others in the cast were – Mukkamala (grandfather of Jaggaiah), Chadalavada and comedian Balakrishna (servants), R. Nageswara Rao (Ramdin, the bodyguard of CSR) and Allu Ramalingaiah (the money lender), Sivarao and Nalla Ramamurthy (drama troupe actors).

Saluri Rajeswara Rao composed the music for Pingali Nagendra Rao’s lyrics. Popular among the songs were - Kaaseeki poyaanu Rama Hari…(Ghantasala, Swarnalatha), Yechatinundi veecheno ee challani gaali… (Ghantasala, P. Leela), Moogavaina Yemile…(A.M. Raja) and the duet Cheyi cheyi kaluparave haayi haayigaa… (A.M. Raja, P.Leela). Among the two dance dramas choreographed by Pasumarthi Krishnamurthy, Athmathyagam was filmed in Geva colour on E.V. Saroja and Mikkilineni and the other, ‘Damayanthi Swayamvaram’ featured NTR, Savitri, Jaggaiah and SVR. Ogirala Ramachandra Rao (his son Narasimhamurthy appeared as a child actor in ACPK) and K. Prasada Rao assisted Saluri.

Trivia: Akkineni Nageswara Rao was first approached for the role of Dr. Raghu. ANR excused himself citing date problems and Jaggaiah stepped in.

Chakrapani asked Rajeswara Rao to use the tune, Brindavanamadi andaridee… from Missamma for a song in ACPK. When the maestro said, ‘why an old tune, I will come up with a new one,’ Chakrapani retorted, ‘the romantic pair (NTR & Savitri) were the same, the music director, the lyricist, the director and the producers were the same, then why not the tune be the same?’ It was one of those rare occasions that Saluri complied and used the tune, of course with some variance for the song Sundaraangulanu Choosina Velala… rendered by P. Leela, Ghantasala and A.M. Raja.

Later day’s popular comedian, ‘Potti’ Prasad made his screen debut with ACPK in a brief role as one of the two (the other being Padmanabham) prospective bridegrooms for Girija. He was bowled over by the magnanimity of Nagi Reddi and Chakrapani when he was paid Rs.1116- for that one scene work (then a gram of gold cost Rs.10).

ACPK was simultaneously made in Tamil, titled Kadan Vangi Kalyanam with Gemini Ganesan in the lead. It had a below average run. Interestingly, Appu Chesi Pappu Koodu fared well in its rerun.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 12:01:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/history-and-culture/appu-chesi-pappu-koodu-1959/article7561720.ece

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