Anthuleni Katha (1976) - Retrospecitve

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 - 13:00
Movie: Anthu Leni Katha (1976)
Banner: Andal Productions
Technical Details: 35 mm, Black and White Runtime: 2 hrs 30 min, Reels: 18
Censor Date: Feb 23, 1976
Release Date: Feb 27, 1976
Jayaprada as Saritha, Rajinikanth (debut) as Murthy, "Phataphat" Jayalakshmi as Chandra, Sreepriya as Bharathi, Baby Gouri as Seeta, Master Ravi as Kumar, Master Raju as Raju, Sudha as Sumathi, Jayashri as Kanakam, Jayavijaya as Jayalakshmi's mother, Pradeep Sakti as Conductor, Parvathi as Parvathi, Prasad Babu as Tilak, Narayana Rao (debut) as 'Vikatakavi' Gopal, Hemasundar as Bharathi's father-in-law, Anjibabu as waiter, Kamal Hasan (Guest) as Arun
Playback: P. Susheela, S. Janaki, L.R. Eshwari, S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, Yesudas, Anand
Camera Assistant: R. Raghunatha Reddy
Asssitant Directors: Ananthu, S.A. John
Art: A. Ramaswamy
Associate Director: Eranki Sarma
Story: M.S. Perumallu
Music: M.S. Vishwanathan
Assistant Music Director: Joseph Krishnamurthy
Dialogues, Lyrics: Acharya Atreya
Camera: Lokanathan
Producer: Rama Aranangal
Story, Screenplay, Direction: K. Balachander
Song Singers Lyrics Cast
Devude icchaaDu veethi okaTi Yesudas Athreya Rajanikanth
kaLLalO unnadEdO kannulakE telusu S.Janaki Athreya Jayaprada
EmiTi lOkam, palugaakula lOkam! L.R. Eshwari Athreya "Phataphat" Jayalakshmi
TaaLikaTTu SubhavELa S.P. Balasubrahmanyam Athreya Narayana Rao
Oogutundi mee yinTa vuyyaala P. Susheela, Chorus Athreya Jayaprada

(G. Anand lent his voice to Narayana Rao only in singing old film songs during various scenes in the movie.)

This is the story of Saritha (Jayaprada) who works hard to bring her family up after her father abondons them. She has a widowed sister, another sister ready to get married and a blind brother. On the top of that, she also has to look after her drunkard elder brother's family of wife and three kids.

About the film:
One of the best films of Jayaprada. If one has to list her top ten films, then this will be the number one film! She did a tremendous job as Saritha in the film. Actually, 1976 was the best year in her career. It started with Anthu Leni Katha with Balachander in the end of February, she did other memorable films like Mangalyaniki Maro Mudi with K. Viswanath, Sita Kalyanam and Sree Rajarajeswari Vilas Coffee Club (released in 1977) with Bapu (the latter for the prestigious Vijaya banner). After this she had another super hit film in the form of Yamagola next year which showed her in a glamarous role co-casting with NTR. (She debuted with Bhoomi Kosam, and then did Naaku Swatantram Vacchindi and Devude Digi Vaste... before Antulenki katha happened). This film gave her a big break as an artist par excellance!

This was the first film for Andal Productions in Telugu. Rama Aranangal did not know any bit of Telugu but he made the film in Telugu. The film became a super hit, and this made him go for another project with the director, a straight Telugu film in the form of Maro Charitra.

This is the debut film for the Rajinikanth (in Telugu), Sreepriya, Pradeep Sakti, and Narayana Rao. Sreepriya did the same role in Tamil and later did solo herione in films like Chilakamma Cheppindi, Patnavaasam, Vayasu Pilichindi, Pottelu Punnamma, Dongala Dopidi, Evadabba Sommu!, Kaali, etc. She produced a couple of films in Tamil, such as the Tamil version of Sivaranjani (titled Nakshatram in Tamil) and Devatalaaraa Deevinchandi, but was not able to get much success. She recently directed a Telugu film 'Drushyam' with Venkatesh.

Rajinikanth's cigarette act caught the attention of many. His voice was dubbed in Telugu. He earlier did another Balachander film Thoorpu-Padamara in Tamil. In 1976, he also did a Tamil film with K. Balachander, as a remake of O Seeta Katha in Telugu.

Kamal Hasan played a guest role as Saritha's boss in the film. He debuted with K. Balachander's "Arangetram" in 1973, and was not new to Telugu audience as his films like Manmadha Leela were dubbed into Telugu. His debut was later remade in Telugu as Jeevitha Rangam with Chandramohan playing his role in Telugu.

"Phataphat" Jayalakshmi debuted with the film Swargam-Narakam a year earlier. She did her Telugu version role in Tamil too and was retained. Her role in the film became so popular that she became "Phataphat" Jayalakshmi! She did films like Korikale Gurraalaite... etc. At a very young age, Jayalakshmi killed herself after her marriage with her boyfriend Sukumar broke. (Sukumar was the nephew of the famous hero and former CM of Tamilnadu, Sree M.G.R.)

Except for the indoor scenes, most of the outdoor was shot in Vizag. This is the first Balachander film shot in Vizag.

The film was a remake of the Tamil super hit film "Aval Oru Thodarkathai" that hit the silver screen in 1974 and was dubbed into Malayalam in 1975 as "Aval Oru Thudarkatha". Sujatha played the role of Jayaprada, Jaiganesh did the role of Rajanikanth, and Kamal Hasan played the role of Narayanarao in the original. The same tunes were used in both the languages. Sreepriya, "Phataphat" Jayalakshmi and the rest of the cast were repeated in the Telugu version.

Another Hindi version, titled Jeevan Dhaara (1982), was directed by Tatineni Ramarao, and Lakshmikanth-Pyarelal scored the music this time. Rekha did the role of Jayaprada, while Raj Babbar did that of Rajinikanth, Rakesh Roshan that of Kamal Hasan, Amol Palekar that of Narayana Rao, Karan Razdan that of Pradeep Sakti, Simple Kapadia, (Dimple's sister) that of "Phataphat" Jayalakshmi, etc. This version was a decent hit too.

Narayana Rao shares his experience...
I was doing my acting course still, when I was selected for the role. Balachander sir came as an invigilator for my exams. While he was there, he selected three of us for this film – me, Rajinikanth, and Pradeep Sakti for the roles.

I was actually selected to do the role that was finally done by Prasad Babu, while a Kannada actor Ashok was supposed to do the role of Gopal tat I actually played. Ashok had some issues and walked out in the last minute saying that he cannot do the role. Ananthu gaaru asked Rajini to suggest someone who could do that role, and Rajini suggested my name! Thus, the role finally landed in my kitty. I was initially hesitant to do the role, as Kamal did a great job in the original (Tamil version), but I did the role nevertheless, as I could not say anything to Balachander sir. As the film celebrated hundered days, Balachander sir said on the stage that I did 90% of what Kamal did in the original, adding that it'll in fact be 150% for the Telugu version, and that he was happy with that.

...Even Pradeep Sakti was supposed to do a different role originally, that of Soman who seduces Jayavijaya and Jayalakshmi in the film, but he was nervous and finally ended up doing the conductor role in the film. ...My first remuneration was Rs. 1500/- and Rajinikanth's was Rs. 1000/-! We got a signing amount of Rs. 100/-, went to Vadapalani with in bus and performed puja with that amount on our first day.

This film made Jayaprada a big artiste. She was very good in the film, but while doing the film Balachander sir was so strict that she even wanted to drop out of the film midway. Rajini and I convinced her to have patience. ...The greatness of Balachander gaaru is that he can turn even a useless stone into a priceless diamond! All the hard work you feel while doing will be forgotten when you see the end product. Even today, people rememeber me as Gopal of Anthu Leni Katha, even after forty years since release, and it's a great feeling!

...Most of the shooting was done in Neptune Studio, which belongs to Bheem Singh gaaru. Jayaprada's house set was also in that studio. Songs and other scenes were done in Vizag. The song are, EmiTi lOkam! and the terrace shots are done at Apsara Hotel in Vizag.

This movie was also remade in kannada as Benkiyalli Aralidha Hoovu with Suhasini in the lead role, it was ahit too. Hindi version did not do well as the adaptation was poor and music average.

NTR's Aaradhana was also released on the same day as this movie. Though Aaradhana had huge starcast like NTR, Vanisree, and Jaggayya, Anthu Leni Katha went on to become a great hit. The film was screened at Deepak Cinema in Hyderabad, where I went for the morning show. There was a power cut after interval, and it was a time when there were no generators! When the power finally restored at 4:30 p.m., not a single spectator had left the theatre or asked for a refund! Everyone was just plain mesmerized at Balachander's magic, and waited to see the film fully!

- Written by Sri Atluri