Poster of the Telugu version
|Directed by||Kadiri Venkata Reddy|
|Produced by||B. Nagi Reddy
|Screenplay by||Kadri Venkata Reddy|
|Story by||Pingali Nagendra Rao|
S. Rajeswara Rao
|Distributed by||Vijaya Vahini Studios|
Mayabazar (English: Market of Illusions) is a 1957 Indian-mythological epic bilingual film written by Pingali Nagendra Rao and directed by Kadiri Venkata Reddy. The film was produced by B. Nagi Reddy and Aluri Chakrapani under the Vijaya Vauhini Studios in both Telugu and Tamil languages, with a partly different cast for each. N. T. Rama Rao, S. V. Ranga Rao and Savitri played key roles in both the versions while Gemini Ganesan replaced Akkineni Nageswara Rao in the Tamil version. The film was the eighth in the series of the adaptations of the folk tale Sasirekha Parinayam and revolves around the roles of Krishna and Ghatotkacha in the marriage of Sasirekha, the daughter of Balarama, with Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna.
The film was made with an estimated budget of ₹ 200,000 with a final reel length of 5,888 metres (19,318 ft). Ghantasala orchestrated and recorded four songs composed by S. Rajeswara Rao apart from composing the rest after the latter left and Marcus Bartley was the cinematographer. The film was edited by the duo C. P. Jambulingam and G. Kalyanasundaram, while Madhavapeddi Gokhale-Kaladhar were the film's art directors. The Telugu version was released on 27 March 1957, and the Tamil version on 12 April 1957. It was also dubbed into Kannada.
Upon release, Mayabazar was a commercial success and later became a landmark film in Telugu and Tamil cinema, with its cinematography, art direction and visual effects, despite the limited technology available at the time. The film received the Filmfare Award for Best Film in Telugu and was also featured at the 1957 International Film Festival of India and Indonesian Film Festival. A poll conducted by CNN-IBN in May 2013 listed it as the greatest Indian film of all time. The Telugu version's digitally remastered and colourised version was released on 30 January 2010. It too was successful both critically and commercially.
- Note: This plot summary refers to the original Telugu version of the film
The story begins when Subhadra, the sister of Balarama and Krishna, marries one of the Pandava[a] named Arjuna, while their son Abhimanyu falls in love with Balarama's daughter, Sasirekha. Both families decide to conduct their marriage once they reach adulthood. By the time Abhimanyu and Sasirekha turn adults, Pandavas loses in a dice game to the Kauravas due to the manipulation of Sakuni. Krishna is furious for the act of Dussasana insulting Draupadi and saves her. Balarama decides to teach a lesson to the Kauravas and later reaches Hastinapuram. Sakuni and Duryodhana together shows utmost respect towards Balarama and after manipulating him, they seek his favour by asking that Sasirekha be married to Duryodhana's son Lakshmana Kumara. They do it with the intention of forcing Balarama and Krishna to support them if Pandavas wage a war after the completion of their fourteen-year exile. Unaware of this, Balarama accepts.
Balarama's wife Revati refuses to honour her previous commitment of conducting the marriage of Sasirekha with Abhimanyu due to the present financial position of the Pandavas. Krishna then manages to send Subhadra and Abhimanyu to Ghatotkacha's ashram. Initially, Ghatotkacha assumes them to be intruders in his forest and attacks them, but later apologises for his misunderstanding. When Subhadra narrates about what happened of her son and Sasirekha, Ghatotkacha decides to play some trickery in Dwaraka. First, with the knowledge of Krishna and a servant girl, he flies the sleeping Sasirekha along with her bed, from Dwaraka to his forest. Then using his magical powers, he assumes the form of Sasirekha and goes back to Dwaraka to wreak havoc on her wedding with Lakshmana Kumara.
He creates a Mayabazar (an illusionary palace) and makes Kauravas stay there whilst he recontinues his havoc. On the wedding day, Ghatotkacha makes Lakshmana Kumara lose his mental balance by appearing in various tantalising forms. Meanwhile in the forest, Sasirekha marries Abhimanyu in the presence of Krishna. When Sakuni accuses Krishna for all the misdeeds, the latter is forced to speak the truth using a special box and Ghatotkacha reveals his real identity. While the Kauravas are sent back to Hastinapuram, Sasirekha's parents accept her wedding and welcome the new couple back at the forest. All thank Ghatotkacha for conducting the marriage who then credits Krishna as the mastermind behind everything that occurred.
- Main Cast
- Remaining Cast
- Akkineni Nageswara Rao (Telugu) / Gemini Ganesan (Tamil) as Abhimanyu
- Gummadi Venkateswara Rao (Telugu) / D. Balasubramaniam (Tamil) as Balarama
- Mukkamala (Telugu) / R. Balasubramaniam (Tamil) as Duryodhana
- C. S. R. Anjaneyulu (Telugu) / M. N. Nambiar (Tamil) as Sakuni
- Mikkilineni Radhakrishna Murthy (Telugu) / V. K. Srinivasan (Tamil) as Karna
- Chaya Devi (Telugu) / Lakshmi Prabha (Tamil) as Revati
- R. Nageswara Rao (Telugu) / E. R. Sahadevan (Tamil) as Dussasana
- Suryakantham (Telugu) / C. T. Rajakantham (Tamil) as Hidimbi
- Ramana Reddy (Telugu) / V. M. Ezhumalai (Tamil) as Chinnamaya
- Relangi Venkata Ramaiah (Telugu) / K. A. Thangavelu (Tamil) as Lakshmana Kumara
After the success of Patala Bhairavi (1951), its production company Vijaya Productions selected the entire technical crew of that film for an adaptation of Sasirekha Parinayam (1936) which was also known as Mayabazar. This film was the eighth in the series of the adaptations of the folk tale Sasirekha Parinayam.[b] It was also the first mythological film produced by Vijaya Productions. Kadiri Venkata Reddy wrote the film's screenplay and also directed this film which was produced by B. Nagi Reddy and Aluri Chakrapani of Vijaya Productions. Venkata Reddy took almost a year for pre-production work and chose the actors who fit into the characters. Pingali Nagendra Rao wrote the story, script and lyrics. Ghantasala composed the film's music and Marcus Bartley was the film's cinematographer.
The film was edited by the duo C. P. Jambulingam and G. Kalyanasundaram and Madhavapeddi Gokhale-Kaladhar were the film's art directors. Singeetam Srinivasa Rao worked as an assistant director in the film. The estimated budget for both the Telugu and Tamil bilingual versions was ₹200,000.[c] Apart from the principal technicians and actors, a crew of 400 studio workers including light men, carpenters, painters and others worked on the film during its production stage.
The film was produced as a bilingual film in both Telugu and Tamil languages with a slightly different cast. In the place of Akkineni Nageswara Rao, who played Abhimanyu in the Telugu version, Gemini Ganesan played the role in the Tamil version. Savitri was the female lead in both versions, with her role being named Sasirekha in the Telugu version, and Vatsala in the Tamil version. N. T. Rama Rao was initially hesitant to play the role of Krishna in this film but accepted after Venkata Reddy insisted him to do so. Special care was taken on his attires and body language. This was the first time in his career that Rama Rao played the role of Krishna.
S. V. Ranga Rao played the role of Ghatotkacha in the film and Nageswara Rao described him as the film's male lead in many interviews. Gummadi Venkateswara Rao and Mikkilineni Radhakrishna Murthy were cast for the roles of Balarama and Karna in the Telugu version respectively while Sita was cast for a supporting role as Sasirekha's maid in the film. Those three, along with Nageswara Rao were the only people alive in the film's cast during the release of the digitally remastered version. Relangi Venkata Ramaiah was cast for the role of Lakshmana Kumara, Duryodhana's son in the film and because of his popularity, a special song was shot featuring him and Savitri. Allu Rama Lingaiah and Vangara Venkata Subbaiah played the role of Shakuni's lackeys, Sarma and Sastry in the film. Kanchi Narasimha Rao was seen as the disguise of old man donned by Krishna who stops Ghatothkacha when he enters Dwaraka.
Telugu singer include stage actor Madhavapeddi Satyam made a cameo appearance as Daaruka in the song "Bhali Bhali Bhali Deva" which he sang too. While Ramana Reddy played the role of Chinnamayya, a tantrik teaching witchcraft at Ghatotkacha's ashram, Chadalavada and Nalla Ramamurthy played the roles of his apprentices Lambu and Jambu respectively.
During the rehearsals, Venkata Reddy noted the time each actor took to deliver his or her dialogues using a stop watch and calculated the length of each scene (including the song situations) thus arriving at the usage of negative film to the required length. D. S. Ambu Rao, the assistant of the film's cinematographer Marcus Bartley, said that the film was shot strictly by the screenplay and light set by Bartley. The song "Lahiri Lahiri" was shot in Ennore, a suburb of Chennai. The outdoor shooting of the song lasted for 10 to 15 seconds and Bartley created a moonlight illusion for the song which made it the first Indian film to do so, according to Ambu Rao.
While erecting the set of Dwaraka, 300 miniature houses were created in about 50 x 60 electrified feet space, with no duplicate houses looking alike. All of them were erected under the supervision of the art director, Madhavpetti Gokhale and Kaladhar. It took four days of filming to get the right effect for the "laddoo gobbling" shots of Ghatotkacha in the song sequence, "Vivaha Bhojanambu". In the scene where Ghatotkacha, in the guise of Sasirekha, uses his foot to stamp Lakshmana Kumara's foot, the expression was Savitri’s, while the foot used for stamping was that of the film’s choreographer Pasumarthi Krishnamurthy's. He pasted false hair on his foot to give it the look of that of a demon's.
Themes and influences
Mayabazar is a mythological film adapted from a fictional folk tale based on Mahabharatha. Film artiste trainer and director L. Satyanand cited that Mayabazar can be labelled a science fiction or comedy satire, touching all aspects from the genres of action to drama and comedy to science fiction. The film basically revolves around the love story of Balarama's daughter Sasirekha (Vatsala in Tamil) and Arjuna's son Abhimanyu.
The characters of Krishna and Balarama along with their respective wives have difference of opinions over the couple's love affair. To introduce the film's theme, Venkata Reddy uses a magic box equivalent to a Television screen which displays whatever is dear to the viewer's heart. In that box, Sasirekha's character sees her lover Abhimanyu, Balarama sees his favourite disciple Duryodhana and Balarama's wife seeing an array of jewellery, indicating her materialistic behaviour.
Mayabazar was opined as a tribute to the Telugu culture, language and customs of the land; especially in the scenes where Balarama rudely asks Subhadra to leave when she confronts him with displeasure at his decision to separate Sasirekha and Abhimanyu. Though the film is a story of Pandavas and Kauravas with the Yadavas pitching in, the Pandavas are never shown but are only heard of throughout the film.
Album cover of the Telugu version
|Soundtrack album by Ghantasala|
|Genre||Feature film soundtrack|
After composing the tunes for four songs: "Srikarulu Devathalu", "Lahiri Lahiri", "Choopulu Kalisina Shubhavela" and "Neekosame", S. Rajeswara Rao opted out of the project,[d] leading to Ghantasala orchestrating and recording Rajeswara Rao's compositions with N. C. Sen Gupta and A. Krishnamurthy besides composing the rest of the film's soundtrack and the entire background score.
The official soundtrack album consists of 12 songs, the lyrics of which were written by Pingali Nagendra Rao and Thanjai N. Ramaiah Dass for the Telugu and Tamil versions respectively. The sound mixing process was supervised by A. Krishnan and Siva Ram. It was processed by N. C. Sen Gupta and was orchestrated by A. Krishnamurthy. P. Leela said in an interview that while recording the songs of this film, one of the songs sung by her took 28 takes and the fifth was finalised by Ghantasala. The song "Lahiri Lahiri" ("Aaga Inba Nilavinile" in Tamil) was based on the Mohanam raga. The song "Vivaha Bhojanambu" ("Kalyana Samayal Saadham" in Tamil) based almost entirely on the lyrics from Surabhi Nataka Samajam's plays of the 1950s which again was sourced from the 1940s Janaki Sapadham harikatha records of B. Nagarajakumari.
Nagarajakumari was inspired from a song composed by Gali Penchala Narasimha Rao for Sasirekha Parinayam (1936) directed by P. V. Das. That song's tune was inspired by Charles Penrose's 1922 song, "The Laughing Policeman", which Penrose composed under the pseudonym Charles Jolly. The soundtrack was marketed by HMV and the album cover depicts a still image of S. V. Ranga Rao portraying Ghatotkacha.
|1.||"Neeve Naa"||Ghantasala, P. Leela||02:48|
|2.||"Choopulu Kalisina Shubhavela"||Ghantasala, P. Leela||03:13|
|3.||"Lahiri Lahiri"||Ghantasala, P. Leela||03:49|
|4.||"Bhali Bhali"||Madhavapeddi Satyam||02:55|
|5.||"Neekosame"||Ghantasala, P. Leela||03:25|
|6.||"Aha Naa Pellanta"||P. Susheela, Ghantasala||02:33|
|8.||"Vivaha Bhojanambu"||Madhavapeddi Satyam||02:26|
|9.||"Vinnava Yesodhamma"||P. Susheela, P. Leela||03:37|
|10.||"Dayacheyandi"||Ghantasala, K. Ravi, Pithapuram Nageswara Rao, P. Susheela||07:21|
|11.||"Srikarulu Devathalu"||M. L. Vasanthakumari||03:48|
|1.||"Patupadum Kuiliname"||P. Leela||03:21|
|2.||"Aaha Inba Nilavinile"||Ghantasala, P. Leela||02:45|
|3.||"Neethana Ennai"||Ghantasala, P. Leela||02:45|
|4.||"Thangame Un Pole"||S. C. Krishnan, Savitri||02:17|
|5.||"Dum Dumyen Kalyanam"||G. Kasthoori, Ghantasala||02:39|
|6.||"Kannudan Kalandhidum Subadhiname"||Ghantasala, P. Leela||03:13|
|7.||"Kalyana Samayal Saadham"||Thiruchi Loganathan||02:26|
|8.||"Unakkagave Naan Uyir Vaazhvene"||Ghantasala, P. Leela||03:25|
|9.||"Dhayai Seiveerey"||S. C. Krishnan, Seerkazhi Govindarajan, P. Suseela||06:18|
|10.||"Pambaramaiaadalaam"||Jikki, P. Suseela||03:21|
|11.||"Bale Bale"||Seerkazhi Govindarajan||02:55|
|12.||"Vinnava Yashodamma"||P. Leela||03:37|
The Telugu version of Mayabazar was released on 27 March 1957, whereas the Tamil version was released a month later, on 12 April 1957. Both the versions have a final film length of 5,888 metres (19,318 ft) and were given a "U" (Universal) certificate by the Central Board of Film Certification. The film was a commercial success and completed a theatrical run of 100 days in 24 theatres and went on to become a silver jubilee film.[e] The film has received the Filmfare Award for Best Film in Telugu. The film was dubbed into Kannada and was featured at the 1957 International Film Festival of India and at the Indonesian Film Festival.
A special screening of Mayabazar was held at the Public Gardens in Hyderabad to celebrate its 50th anniversary on 7 April 2007. The celebration was jointly organised by the Department of Culture, Andhra Pradesh; Film, TV and Theatre Development Corporation and Kinnera Art Theatres. Akkineni Nageshwara Rao and C. Narayan Reddy, who were associated with the film, were felicitated on the occasion.
Mayabazar received positive reviews from critics, particularly for the work of the technical crew. W. Chandrakanth of The Hindu wrote
The greatness of the director lies here – he successfully reduces all characters to ordinary mortals displaying all the follies of human beings except Ghatothkacha or Krishna. And then he injects into the Yadava household a Telugu atmosphere, full with its simile, imagery, adage, sarcasm and wit. The result – a feast for the eyes and soul. That is Mayabazar for you.
Vijaysree Venkatraman, writing for The Hindu in 2008, remarked that the "special effects in this summer's Hollywood superhero movies were spectacular, but, for me, the mythological Maya Bazaar [sic] hasn't lost any of its magic." She added, "If watching the genial half-demon polish off a wedding feast single-handedly remains a treat, seeing the greedy duo from the groom's side get whacked alternately by the furniture and the wilful carpet has me in splits". Writing for The Hindu, film critic M. L. Narasimham said: "Though there were several movie versions in various Indian languages, the 1957 Vijaya Productions, Mayabazar is still considered the best for its all round excellence".
G. Dhananjayan in his 2011 book The Best of Tamil Cinema, 1931 to 2010 spoke positively towards the production of the film, praising the script and the music. He mentioned Savitri's performance as the film's highlight, especially in the scenes where Ghatotkacha assumes her form. The Times of India stated, "With a powerful cast and a strong script, this movie is a stealer. Savitri, NTR, ANR, SV Rangarao and not to mention Suryakantam add layers to their characters. Of course, the language and the dialogues, simply unbeatable. Some of the scenes are simply hilarious."
Digitisation and colourisation
Mayabazar was the first Telugu film transformed from black and white to colour version, with a re-mastered audio from mono track to a DTS 5.1 channel system. In late November 2007, a Hyderabad-based company named Goldstone Technologies acquired the world negative rights of 14 classic Telugu films produced by Vijaya Vauhini Studios, Mayabazar being one of them, to release their digitally re-mastered versions in colour. C. Jagan Mohan of Goldstone Technologies had years of experience during his work in AIR which made him think of redoing the sound on DTS. A team of 165 people worked for eight months. He used 180,000 shades of colour to arrive at a tone similar to that of human skin and used 16.7 million colour technology. They had to restore the audio, clear the distortion, raise volume of the vocals and find instrumental musicians to perform the same background music to record them on seven tracks instead of a single track. The sound effects were also remastered.
Apart from colouring the clothes and jewellery, Mohan said that the song "Vivaha Bhojanambu" and the wedding scene in the climax were the most challenging sequences, as food items should look more realistic after colourisation in the former. For the latter, Mohan explained
Each and every rose petal strewn on the pathway had to be colored. Further, each frame in the climax has many actors. In technical parlance, we refer to a set of colours used for skin tone, clothes, jewelry and so on as different masks. If five or six masks were used on one character, the presence of many actors in a frame called for that much more work.
Three songs "Bhali Bhali Deva", "Vinnavamma Yashodha" and "Choopulu Kalisna Subha Vela" along with many poems were removed/deleted from the remastered colour version to maintain print quality.
The total budget of the film's digitalisation was estimated to be ₹75 million.[f] The colour version was released on 30 January 2010 in 45 theatres in Andhra Pradesh. The colour version received positive reviews and became a commercial success. Regarding the colourised version, M. L. Narasimham of The Hindu felt that the effort was "laudable, but the soul was missing" and added "Get a DVD of the original (Black & White) movie, watch it and you will agree with ANR who while talking about Mayabazar once exclaimed, 'What a picture it was!'".
A government order issued on 29 January 2010 stated that the remastered version has been exempted from entertainment tax. However theatre owners charged full and they along with other film producers lacked clarity about the order's validity. Despite its success, Mohan decided not to remaster the remaining 14 films saying that most of the producers who sold the rights of the negatives to TV channels lost control over them adding that there were a lot of legal issues over ownership and copyright issues whenever other producers try to do something on their own.
The film is considered as one of the classics in Telugu cinema, particularly for its use of technology. It is also remembered for Nagendra Rao's dialogues "Evaru puttinchakunte maatalela pudathayi" ("How would words emerge if none invents them"), "Subhadra, aagadalu, aghaaityalu naaku paniki raavu" ("Subhadra, these atrocities mean nothing to me") and phrases such as "antha alamalame kada" ("Is everything fine"), "Asamadiyulu" ("Friends"), "Tasamadiyulu" ("Enemies"), "Gilpam" and "Gimbali" (antonyms of "Bed and Room mat") which later became a part of Telugu vernacular.
In January 2007, M. L. Narasimham of The Hindu placed Mayabazaar alongside other films Mala Pilla (1938), Raithu Bidda (1939), Vara Vikrayam (1939), Bhakta Potana (1942), Shavukaru (1950), Malliswari (1951) Peddamanushulu (1954) and Lava Kusa (1963) as those films which made an impact on the society as well as Telugu cinema post their release. Rama Rao later reprised the role of Krishna in various unrelated Telugu and Tamil films spanning a career of two decades.[g]
In February 2010, film artiste trainer and director L. Satyanand compared Mayabazar with films such as The Ten Commandments (1956), Ben-Hur (1959), Sholay (1975) and Avatar (2009), saying that they "are evergreen and never fade away from the mind", adding that they appealed to the people of their respective generations and continue to do so to this day. Satyanand praised Bartley's cinematography stating that the film
was definitely ahead of its time. It is still a mystery how Marcus Bartley could morph Sasirekha through the ripples in the pond. It was an absolute masterpiece, considering the equipment in use, those days. In the absence of hi-def cameras, computer generated visual effects and high-end computers, the direction, cinematography and visual effects were efforts of sheer human genius.
On the centenary of Indian cinema in April 2013, CNN-IBN included Mayabazar in its list, "The 100 greatest Indian films of all time". A poll conducted by CNN-IBN in May 2013 listed it as the greatest Indian film of all time. In August 2013, Nageswara Rao's son actor Akkineni Nagarjuna wished the film be remade in accordance to the tastes of the present day audience. The Andhra Pradesh State Government planned to introduce the film as a part of the tenth standard English syllabus from 2014. The fourth unit of the English text book was named "Films and Theaters" and there was a special mention of Mayabazar and its actors along with two images from the film.
In popular culture
Telugu director Mohan Krishna Indraganti named his second directorial venture as Mayabazar which released in 2006 and was also a fantasy film. The film was produced by B. Satyanarayana and regarding the title, he said that he was an ardent fan of Mayabazar and chose to name the film after writer D. V. Narasaraju insisted him to do so, saying that this is the only apt title for the subject. Director Krishna Vamsi called Mayabazaar as "epic, than a mere classic" and also said that the film's tagline "Sasirekha Parinayam" led him to title his 2009 Telugu film.
A 1987 Telugu film directed by Jandhyala Subramanya Sastry and a 2011 Telugu film directed by Veerabhadram Chowdary were named after "Aha Naa Pellana". Both of them were successful. In Rajanna (2011), a period drama, the film's central character Mallamma played by Baby Annie is shown listening to the songs of Mayabazar and the same was criticised because of the film's time period. However its director K. V. Vijayendra Prasad defended himself saying that Rajanna was set in 1958, a year after the release of Mayabazar.
The Tamil film Kalyana Samayal Saadham (2013) was named after the song of the same name. The scene where Krishna reveals his identity to Ghatotkacha at Dwaraka was utilised in a crucial sequence in Gopala Gopala (2015) where Pawan Kalyan played the role of Krishna. A Tamil song written by Thamarai and composed by Harris Jayaraj for the film Yennai Arindhaal (2015) was named after Mayabazar.
- The Pandava is a group of five brothers named Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. They are the protagonists in the epic Mahabharata.
- Other alternative titles for the film included Surekhaapaharan, Veera Ghatotkacha and Vastala Kalyanam.
- The exchange rate in 1957 was 4.79 Indian rupees (₹) per 1 US dollar (US$).
- M. L. Narasimham does not mention why S. Rajeswara Rao opted out of the project.
- A Silver Jubilee film is one that completes a theatrical run of 175 days (25 weeks).
- The exchange rate in 2010 was 45.09 Indian rupees (₹) per 1 US dollar (US$).
- Rama Rao reprised the role of Krishna in the unrelated Tamil film Karnan (1964), and various unrelated Telugu films such as Vinayaka Chaviti (1957), Sati Anasuya (1957), Deepavali (1960), Sri Krishnarjuna Yuddham (1962), Sri Krishna Pandaveeyam (1966), Sri Krishna Tulabharam (1966), Shri Krishnavataram (1967), Sri Krishna Vijayam (1971), Sri Krishna Satya (1972), Shri Krishnanjaneya Yuddham (1972) and Daana Veera Soora Karna (1972)
- Dhananjayan 2011, p. 162.
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