Daagudu Moothalu: The ‘hidden’ treasures unveiled

Adurti Subba Rao and NT Rama Rao  

D aagudu Moothalu remains a special film for many reasons apart from being the first script penned by writer Mullapudi Venkata Ramana. Starring NTR, Saroja Devi, Gummadi, Sarada, the film directed by Adurti Subba Rao was an August 21 release in 1964 and is celebrating the 51st anniversary of its release.

The film starts with Gummadi in quest of his bereaved son’s wife and grandson and failing to do so, lives in emptiness surrounded by his relatives Ramana Reddy and Suryakantham who eye his property. Meanwhile, the grandson, who grows up to be NTR, is found by a hotel owner, who leaves behind his business and five daughters with him as he passes away. Meanwhile Saroja Devi fleeing her home to escape marriage to a much married older man, lands up at NTR’s hotel. The plot thereon revolves around their love story, how he realises his true identity and successfully prevents his relatives from grabbing his grandfather’s property.

A remake of the 1936 Hollywood release, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, it was to be scripted by writer-lyricist Athreya, who’d even readied the first draft. Unimpressed with his version, Producer D B Narayana was keen to rope in Mullapudi, popular for his humourous digs in Andhra Patrika. With the two versions ready they didn’t think twice before choosing Mullapudi . However, things refused to remain simple with time. Mullapudi’s involvement in Adurti’s magnum opus Mooga Manasulu and producer Doondi’s Raktha Sambandham (the Telugu version of Sivaji Ganesan’s Pasamalar) led to delays in Daagodu Moothalu.

At a time when the industry was divided into ANR and NTR camps, Adurti’s presence for Daagudu Moothalu was a surprise too as he was closely associated with ANR’s Annapurna Films(which was later changed to Studios). Producer Narayana who was a friend of Adurti, with whom who’d floated the Saahini Arts banner in the late 1950’s,convinced Adurti to come on board.

As the shoot went on, Saroja Devi had a ligament tear, due to which, the sets constructed for the songs Mella Mella Mellaga and Adagaka Icchina Manase in Vaahini Studios had to be dismantled, which escalated costs and caused delays. A distraught Adurti rushed to the actress’s Bangalore residence, even ready to replace her with Krishna Kumari but realised her condition was worse than they had imagined. The makers then shot the songs around Lal Bagh, Ulsoor Lake and Cubbon Park. The actress was at her career best then and was paid Rs 80,000 for the movie ahead of NTR’s remuneration of Rs 40,000. The drastic difference was also due to NTR’s cordial off-screen equation with DBN Filmsa banner that had given him a major break with films including Banda Ramudu Penki Pellam .

However, things did turned sour between the producer and NTR post Daagudu Moothalu, significantly because of Navayuga Films bagged bagging the distribution rights for the same, quite popular in film circles as ANR’s loyalists. Incidentally, two major actresses of the time, Sarada and Vijaya Nirmala had feature in small appearances, though the former’s part becomes prominent as the film culminates.

K.V. Mahadevan’s music featured an eclectic range of tracks like the male and the female versions of Gorantha Gootike Cheravu Chilaka, Devudanevaadunnada and Andalam Yekkadamma with lyrics by Dasaradhi, C Narayana Reddy and Athreya.

Daagudu Moothalu was later remade into Tamil as Avan Pithana with S. S Rajendran and in Hindi with Dharmendra titled Jwar Bhata, which however couldn’t replicate the success of the original.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 10:48:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/daagudu-moothalu-the-hidden-treasures-unveiled/article7561719.ece

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