Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A Review of Patala Bhiravi

Posted by: Rama Mohan A. Websites: Lifestyle India, Get Elite, ViewDom

N.T. Rama Rao, Malathi, S.V. Ranga Rao, C.S.R. Anjaneyulu, Balakrishnan, Padmanabham, Lakshmikantam, Hemalathamma, Relangi Venkatramaiah, T.G. Kamaladevi, Surabhi Kamalabai, Girija, Chitti, Savitri(Gust Roll)

Breaking all box-office records in AP, Vijaya quickly made a Tamil version and Gemini Studios followed with a Hindi version, all starring Rama Rao who soon after started his own production house. The poor gardener’s son Thota Ramudu (NTR) has to become rich to gain the hand of the Princess Indumati (Malati).

The villain is a sorcerer (Ranga Rao) who wants to make the hero, as a fine example of manhood, into a human sacrifice to the underworld Goddess Patala Bhairavi. He entraps the hero with a magic bowl able to generate gold and Thota has to overcome numerous trials (e.g. fighting a crocodile which turns out to be a godly being living under a curse) before he tricks the sorcerer and is able to decapitate him. He thus satisfies Patala Bhairavi’s lust for a human sacrifice and receives all the riches he craves from her as a reward. To lengthen the film, the sorcerer is revived and again pursues the hero and is again defeated.

The kitschy imagery and studio sets provide an appropriate style for this emphatically Orientalist fairy tale. Ghantasala’s music is a key contribution to the film’s success. The Hindi version, dubbed by Gemini from Telugu, included a specially shot colour sequence with a dance by Lakshmikantam. The Telugu film consolidated a local version of the ‘folklore’ film, a swashbuckling Orientalist fantasy evoking both Alexandre Dumas and Hollywood’s Douglas Fairbanks films. Created by the Tamil cinema (cf. Apoorva Sahodarargal, 1949; later associated mainly with MGR), the genre was successfully transferred into Telugu where established directors like B.N. Reddi (formerly associated with reform themes) had to acknowledge its commercial infallibility (Raja Makutam, 1959).

The real success of the genre is due to its colourful invention of local pseudo-legends often adapting idioms from the folk theatre, e.g. Burrakatha. Earlier Telugu films in this idiom included Balanagamma (1942), Ratnamala (1947) and Raksharekha (1949). Savitri performed a dance in the film.

See a video of Patala Bhairavi
Prema kosamai Valalo Padene.
NTR mega hit - Patala Bhiravi- video song

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