There’s no doubt that Alluri Seetarama Raju, starring superstar Krishna as revolutionary icon of Rampa rebellion that took place in the period of the British Raj – 1922-24, gave an outward glimpse of the Indian Independence and tells how young rebel Alluri was trapped and shot dead by the British. It is the first Telugu movie to have used cinemascope film, a format (cinematography technique) used in shooting a widescreen picture on standard 35 mm film in 1974.
Penned by the writer Maharadhi Tripuraneni, the movie, which was directed by V Ramachandra Rao, went on to receive National Film Award for best lyrics for revolutionary compositions from legendary poet Srirangam Srinivasa Rao.
The movie, which marks the 100th film in the career of Krishna, managed to pull the crowd to screens without a single romantic duet, and stood as the highest grosser for that year 1974. The movie showcased Alluri and the period of two significant years during the Rampa Rebellion in the Godavari agency — how the young revolutionary was drawn into a rebel’s mood, incident after incident — raids on police stations of Krishna Devi Peta, Dammanapalli, Rampachodavaram and Rajavommangi. However, the film could not show Alluri’s obscure childhood and his early struggles as a boy.
Following the 1882 Madras Forest Act, there had been severe distress among the Girijans who were eking out a living through ‘podu’ agricultural system. The laws that were passed by the British proved a major economic hindrance to these tribals and also affected their livelihood. This was the time when young Alluri broke into the scene and inspired the band of tribal leaders and gave a call for guerrilla warfare against the British.
Krishna, who mostly acted in social movies and family entertainers and endeared himself to both class and mass audiences, excelled in the titular role of Alluri Seetarama Raju in this historical narrative which brought him a lot of fame.
For actor Kongara Jaggayya, the movie earned much fame for the character he essayed as Rutherford Scott Coward, the then Visakhapatnam District Collector. Just before the making of the movie, Jaggayya who is also a literary buff, had to request scriptwriter Maharadhi to rework on the dialogues for the role of Rutherford in order to give an authentic look to how the British officials had functioned while discharging their duties.
Jaggayya had also sported blue-coloured lens for better and apt appearance of a British aristocrat. It is said that he also made several visits to Chintapalli forests and surrounding hamlets which were ruled and governed by District Collector Rutherford and spoke with elderly people to get an idea and credible insights of Rutherford’s attitude towards people. His homework paid off. Following the release of the movie in 1974, Jaggayya had received a phone call from the then Chief Minister PV Narasimha Rao hailing his work.
Vijaya Nirmala’s role as Seeta in the movie was very limited considering the cinematic narrative of the story. Rao Gopal Rao and Kanta Rao had portrayed negative characters. Tyagaraaju was apt as British officer Sebastian. Other characters include Chandra Mohan, Balaiah, Pandari Bai, Prabhakar Reddy, Rajababu, KV Chalam, Gummadi Venkateshwara Rao, Manjula and Rajasree. The movie went on to become the first Telugu movie to collect a share of Rs 1 crore in that era.
Alluri Seetarama Raju
Directed by: V Ramachandra Rao
Produced by: G Hanumantha Rao, G Adiseshagiri Rao
Cast: Ghattamaneni Krishna, Vijaya Nirmala, Sreedhar Surapaneni
Release date: May 1, 1974
Devudu Chesina Manushulu
A social movie with a message, the story revolves around the household of a zamindar, Dasaradharamaiah (SV Ranga Rao), whose eldest son Ramakrishna (NTR) gets lost in childhood due to his wicked stepmother and her brother, and grows up to become a smuggler and is known in the underworld as Ramu. Dasaradharamaiah’s second son Gopi (Krishna) and daughter Geeta (Kanchana) lead carefree life. What happens to Ramu and whether he ever reunites with his family and will a bond develop between the brothers forms the crux of the plot.
Directed by: V Ramachandra Rao
Produced by: G Hanumantha Rao, Krishna (presents)
Cast: NT Rama Rao, Krishna, Jayalalithaa, Vijaya Nirmala, SV Ranga Rao, Kanchana, Jaggayya
Release date: August 9, 1973
One of the most popular Western genre films in Telugu, the movie is loosely based on the 1966 Hollywood flick The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The plot finds inspiration from other Hollywood movies like For a Few Dollars More and Mackenna’s Gold, and revolves around different parties of highway robbers looking to lay their hands on the hidden treasure of Amaraveedu dynasty. In the high-octane movie with its ensemble cast, led by Krishna (who plays the role of Krishna Prasad) and Vijayanirmala (who plays Radha, daughter of one of the secret keepers of the treasure’s location), Nagabhushanam, Satyanarayana, and Jyothi Lakshmi play the ruthless robbers. The filmmakers tried making this high-budget movie with its engrossing action sequences, cowboy hats, horse rides, camels in the deserts, and pistols in a typical Hollywood style and managed to impress the Telugu audiences who thronged the theatres, ensuring the movie became a blockbuster hit.
Directed by: KSR Das
Produced by: G Adiseshagiri Rao
Cast: Ghattamaneni Krishna, Vijaya Nirmala, Nagabhushanam, Gummadi, Satyanarayana, Prabhakar Reddy, Dhulipala, Jyothi Laxmi
Release date: August 27, 1971