STARRING N.T. Ramarao, Devika, Malini, Girija, Relangi, Ramanamurthy, T.L. Kantharao, Gummadi, R. Nageswara Rao and M.N. Rajam.
HYDERABAD: Partition and the riots in the aftermath rendered many homeless. Thousands of people on either side of the border lost their properties and migrated to distant lands to start life afresh. One such family left Pakistan and settled in Hyderabad. The once prosperous farmer peddled a rickshaw to support his wife, child and college going brother. His life and the turns it took formed the theme for the 1957 Hindi hit, Bada Bhai produced and directed by K. Amarnath with Ajit and Kamini Kaushal in lead roles. Impressed by the film’s success and its story line, Rajshri Productions bosses Sundarlal Nahata and T. Aswathanarayana bought the remake rights. They signed director C.S. Rao and writer Sadasivabrahmam to work on the Telugu version. The duo made one minor change. Instead of the 1947 partition, in Sabhash Ramudu the protagonist migrates with his family to Hyderabad from Konaseema after losing his property in the devastating floods to river Godavari. To infuse some humour in an otherwise sombre family drama, Sadasivabrahmam introduced two new characters, a pickpocket and his love interest, the damsel who runs a petty shop.
The Story: After he lost his property in the devastating floods, Ramu (NTR) takes to the job of a rickshaw pullar and settles in Hyderabad with wife Lakshmi (Devika), child Radha (Baby Sasikala) and younger brother Mohan (Ramanamurthy), a college student. Mareesu (Relangi), a pick pocket falls in love with Mallika (Girija) a petty shop owner. He is an admirer of Ramu. Bhupathi (R. Nageswara Rao) is the chief of a robber gang and runs a night club where dancer Jayasri (M.N. Rajam) performs and also helps him in his robberies. Ramu learns about the gang’s hideout and Bhupathi’s associate (K.V.S. Sarma) shoots at him injuring his leg. Police commssioner Narayana Rao (Gummadi) not only approves his daughter Rani’s (Malini) marriage with Mohan but also gets him a job as police inspector, much to the chagrin of his son Kumar (Kantharao), also a police inspector. Attracted by Jayasri, Kumar falls into the bad company of Bhupathi. Bhupathi gets her killed and implicates Ramu in the murder. Bhupathi kidnaps Mallika. Mareesu, Kumar, Mohan and Rani were also held captive by him. Ramu escapes from the prison to take on Bhupathi and his gang. Meanwhile the police too enter and arrest the culprits. Rani and Mohan’s marriage is performed.
Cast & Crew: The Hindi version’s absorbing screenplay made director C.S. Rao’s job easy as all that he had to do was to faithfully follow it. Sadasavibrahmam also largely followed Bada Bhais writer S.K. Prabhakar while writing the dialogues.
NTR as the protagonist Ramu displayed subtle emotions with impeccable ease, underplaying the character. Devika made a neat contribution as his supportive wife Lakshmi. Interestingly, Kamini Kaushal’s name was also Lakshmi in Bada Bhai’ Though Devika tried to come out of her sober look in the light hearted scenes, when she teases Mohan cautioning him about falling in love and while she announces to her husband about the arrival of their second offspring, Kamini Kaushal was more expressive in portraying the joie de vivre in light bantered scenes and the sullen look in serious situations. For R. Nageswara Rao playing the character of Bhupathi was like a cakewalk. He proved a shade better than Jayant (Sholay fame Amjad Khan’s father) who essayed the role in Bada Bhai. Surabhi Kamalabai acted as the maid in Gummadi’s house.
Ghantasala’s music played a major role in the film’s stupendous success. He had borrowed two tunes from Nashad’s (not to be confused with Naushad) compositions for Bada Bhai, the all time favourite – ‘Jayammu Nischayammura…’ (Lyric: Kosaraju, singers: Ghantasala, P. Susheela, Sarojini and chorus) derived from Kadam Bhadaye jaa… (Talat Mahmood) and the duet – ‘Kala kala virisi jagaale pulakinchene…’ (Sri Sri – Ghantasala, Susheela) borrowed from ‘chori chori dil ka lagaana buri bath hain’ (Lata Mangeshkar, Talat Md.). Ghantasala also used an O.P. Nayyar tune – ‘Ye hai Bombai meri jaan’ from CID for the song – ‘Hello darling maataadavaa’ (Sadasivabrahmam – Pithapuram Nageswara Rao, Jamunarani). The rest were Ghantasala’s original compositions and the hit numbers include – ‘Jabilli velugulo Kalindi chentha’ (Sadasivabrahmam – K. Rani) and ‘Aasale alalaaga…’ (Kosaraju – Ghantasala).
Trivia: Nashad’s (original name: Shaukat Ali Hashmi) immortal compositions include – ‘Bhula Nahin Dena Ji Bhula Nahin Dena Zamana Kharab Hai…’ (Lata, Rafi) and ‘Tasveer Banata Hoon Tasveer Nahin Banti’ (Talat Md.) from K. Amarnath’s Baradari (1955). Incidentally, Amarnath also directed six Tamil films including the big hit, Minnalkodi (1937).
Ranganath Das brought Malini to films with Santhanam. She had changed her name from Kusumakumari to Malini while she was acting along with Sivaji Ganesan in B.R. Panthulu’s runaway hit, Sabash Meena (Sabhash Pilla in Telugu). Malini later acted with MGR in Sabash Mappillai and settled down with the film’s producer-director S. Raghavan.
Baby Sasikala is now a UK based singer-dancer Shashikala Tallam. In 1998 she has cut an Indi –pop album titled ‘Raksh’ for which P.B. Srinivos wrote the lyrics and Saluri Vasu Rao set the tunes.
Sabhash Ramudu was the last big hit film for R. Nageswara Rao. The film was released on September 10, 1959 (its Tamil dubbed version Sabash Ramu had a simultaneous release) and a month before on August 5th RNR succumbed to tuberculosis. He was 33. Before his untimely demise he had completed work on his two assignments – Bhaktha Sabari and Jagannatakam.