Kotha Bangaru Lokam Copied Scenes




Vedantham Raghavaiah.


BS Ranga.

CR Subbaraman.


Raavu Bala Saraswati

Dialogues & Songs

Vinoda Pictures.

Peketi Sivaram,
R. Nageswara Rao,
Chandra Kumari,
Surabhi Kamala Bhai,
Annapurna Devi,
Vijayalakshmi and Others.

If a Telugu cinegoer is asked to name any one single 'classic' social film in Telugu, that is true to its literal meaning, no doubt, he will name 'Devadasu'. Such is the power that this film has on the audience, irrespective of their age, education and social status. One truly wonders about its powerful grip on the audience. Though released in the year 1953, Devadasu remains an all-time favorite for the Telugu cinegoer ever since.

The Immortal Love Story: Devadasu is a Bengali novel written by Sri Saratchandra Chatterji, popularly known as 'Sarat'. Many a novel written by him was immortalized by the extraordinary translation into Telugu by many stalwarts, particularly 'Chakrapani'. Chakrapani is the pen name of Sri Aluri Subba Rao. He was the Editor of the then popular Telugu monthly, Yuva, in which he used to serialise the translated versions of the Bengali novels. Devadasu was one such novel serialised in Yuva. It had a very strong following among the readers those days. Chakrapani, being a very versatile writer, made it a point to make all the original Bengali characters so very native Telugu that many refused to believe that it was in fact a translation from a different language. The characters right from Devadasu to Parvathi, Chandramukhi to Bhagawan to all the rest, were made Telugu natives.

The Plot: Devadasu is the story of an eternal lover, who failed to fulfill his childhood dream of being together with his beloved. Born into a well-to-do family, Devadasu grows with a fascination towards Parvathi, a girl in the neighbourhood. Devadasu's father does not accept their love as Parvathi hails from a lower caste with minimal financial means. Parvathi's father is insulted when he approaches them with the hand of his daughter for Devadasu. Angered by this, he goes on to finalise Parvathi's marriage with a Zamindar, who is almost double her age. Coming to know of this, Devadasu becomes desperate and sinks himself into boozing. Parvathi visits Devadasu and asks for an opportunity to serve him, because she feels that she was also partly responsible for the fall of her lover. And Devadasu accepts her request and promises to visit her before his death. When Devadasu finally visits her place despite his physical inability to do so, it was already too late. Parvathi, learning of a stranger's death near her palace, runs to see if it was her own lover Devadasu. Parvathi gets hurt when her husband gets the palatial gates closed, and dies along with her lover whom she could not join when he was alive. Thus the story of these immortal lovers comes to a tragic end.

The Film: The filming of the novel 'Devadasu' was a cherished dream of the veteran film producer Sri DL Narayana. He started his career in the film industry as a Production Manager in Bharani Pictures, a concern owned by film actress Smt. Bhanumathi Ramakrishna and her hubby Sri Ramakrishna. After getting enough experience in the production line, Sri DL, as the friends affectionately called him, decided to start his own production company with the banner 'Vinoda Pictures'. His close friends Sri Vedantham Raghavaiah, Sri Samudrala Raghavacharya (Senior), and Sri CR Subbaraman also lent their support. Though a man of great guts and high literary taste, DL did not take any risk by producing a film of his choice. Instead, he went on to produce 'Stree Sahasam', a film based on a folklore story, in 1951. Led by the star actor ANR, Akkineni Nageswara Rao, and the glamorous heroine Anjali Devi, this picture directed by Vedantham Raghavaiah, was a runaway hit. Encouraged by its success, DL now ventured to produce the famous Bengali novel 'Devadasu' as a film. He had with him the enviable team of Vedantham, Samudrala and CRS (C R Subbaraman), who among themselves made a strong foundation for the picture in the making. For the role of Devadasu, DL had chosen ANR again, which raised many an eyebrow in the industry. Many laughed at the choice of ANR. But DL was undeterred. He had full confidence in his selection of ANR as the hero. For the pivotal role of Parvathi, DL had selected Janaki, who was almost a newcomer in the industry.

Then they started on the script work for the film. To be frank, their job was an easy task. They had before them three films made in different languages on Devadasu, all of them being hits by themselves. There was the film made by PC Barua (Pramadesh Chandra Barua), in 1935, with KC Saigal in the lead. This was a film made simultaneously in Hindi and Bengali languages. Bimal Roy was the cinematographer for this film, who later produced another version of the film in 1955 with Dilip Kumar as Devadas and Vyjayanthimala and Suchithra Sen as his heroines. Apart from this film, there was another film by New Theatres in Tamil with PV Rao as the hero, who also directed the film. Thus equipped with three different films, the DL Team, consisting of Vedantham, Samudrala and CRS, went on with their efforts. After 10 songs were written, composed and recorded, they had a major setback with untimely death of CRS, who was the music director of the film, at the tender age of 29 years. His death was shrouded in mystery and was surrounded by rumours. This upset the team for a while. To overcome the problems, DL team decided to produce a low budget film. Thus, the film 'Santhi' was released in 1952, with Chadrakumari and Ramachandra Kasyapa as the lead pair. A budding artiste named Savithri played a minor role in this film. After this, the production of Devadasu, was decided to be taken ahead. By this time, Janaki who was to play the role of Parvathi had become very busy and she had no dates to spare. Then, the DL Team had decided to take Savithri for this role instead. For the role of Chandramukhi, who loves Devadasu despite being a prostitute, the team decided to take Lalitha, one of the three Travncore sisters (the other two being, Padmini and Raagini). The role of Bhagavan (the original name in the novel is Chunnilal) went to Sri Peketi Sivaram. SV Ranga Rao(as Zamindar Narayana Rao), CSR, Surabhi Kamala Bai and Aarani Satyanarayana (Dharmanna) were in the other lead roles. Seetharam, though featured in a very minor role as the cartman (bandivaadu), leaves an indelible mark as an actor.

The Shooting: The shooting for the film went on smoothly. The scenes in which ANR enacted as a drunkard were shot for 53 days continuously. It was rumoured at that time that ANR was acting those scenes after having real booze. But very few people knew the fact that ANR was a complete teetotaller. It was also rumoured that ANR was fasting to make his body look lean and pale. ANR contradicts this also. Thus, what we see on the screen in this movie is the believable action by ANR. Needless to say, the film became a super hit.

The Highlights: The superb direction by Sri Vedantham Raghavaiah made the film an immortal classic. Lyrics and the music from the film were a rage at that time. The Telugu audience whole-heartedly owned all the lyrics penned by Sri Samudrala. The song 'Jagame Maaya..' is a classic by any standard. By the time the recording of this song started, CRS passed away and the lyric was set to tune on the lines of CRS by Viswanathan-Ramamurthy, the duo who assisted CRS while he was alive. Ravu Bala Saraswathi, Jikki and Ghantasala rendered the songs. 'Palleku Podaam', 'O Devadas', 'Cheliya Ledu Chelimi Ledu', 'Andam Choodavaya', 'Kala Idani Nijamidani', 'Kudi Edamaithe' are all-time super hit songs. The dialogues, written by Sri Samudrala, well suited the characters making them all the more near and dear to the audience.

Movie Trivia: Though Devadasu is not the first film in which Savithri played a lead role, she received all the applause she deserved for her role as Parvathi. Earlier she acted as heroine opposite NT Rama Rao in 'Palleturu,' directed by T. Prakasa Rao and opposite Chandrasekhar in 'Sankranthi,' directed by C. Pullaiah. She also acted as heroine for ANR in the film 'Bratuku Theruvu,' directed by P. Ramakrishna for Bhaskar Pictures. After Devadasu, the ANR-Savithri pair became a success formula. They were leading the industry for more than two decades.

ANR does not consider Devadasu as his major role. In his opinion, Devadasu is a character totally backed by the writer. There was not much scope for him as an actor in that role. He considers his roles in Vipranarayana and Batasari to be far more superior in this regard.

Even today there is a controversy as to who wrote some of the lyrics in the movie. Though the credits in the film emphatically announce Samudrala as the lyric writer, the famous researcher, Sri VAK Ranga Rao, claims that he has evidence to show that Sri Malladi Ramakrishna Sasthri wrote some of the lyrics.

Before Devadasu was planned by DL, the still photographer, Sri Nagaraja Rao, shot some stills of ANR in the Devadasu make-up, with a glass in his hand and looks of a drunkard. Sri Nagaraja Rao also took shots of Savithri in Parvathi's make-up. These make-up stills taken by Nagaraja Rao in the Narsu's Studio, impressed DL so much that he decided to use the same make-up for his real shooting of the film. DL has shown these make-up stills to Mr. Mangaiah, the make-up man for the film Devadasu, who followed the same.

In 1974, superstar Krishna ventured to produce another version of Devadasu under his own Padmalaya Banner with Vijaya Nirmala as the director and Arudra as the writer. Irked by this, ANR got his Devadasu (of 1953) re-released simultaneously. Though superiorly made in color by Krishna, the film acted by ANR became a rage once again, leaving Krishna's Devadasu far behind in the race. Many people believe that the Black & White photography by BS Ranga in the ANR version, that emphasized the tragic elements of the movie, made all the difference.

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