Of all Indian regional cinemas nowhere has the ‘mythological movie’ survived the longest as within the cinemas of south India, and particularly Telugu cinema, the place it was once a dominant style proper as much as the Nineteen Seventies. Ok.V. Reddy’s path-breaking 1957 bilingual, Mayabazar, starring one of the vital now mythical actors N.T. Rama Rao, Akkineni Nageshwar Rao, S.V. Ranga Rao and Savitri was once a welcome exchange to ‘the mythological template’ in the way it humanised the gods for the primary time. Its good fortune has since been abundantly repeated. S.S. Rajamouli, one in all Telegu cinema’s most well liked and influential twenty first century filmmakers, calls Mayabazar “the best vintage and absolute affect of all occasions, now not best on me and my era of filmmakers, however all the Telugu movie trade.”
Why? In the end it’s simply every other love tale from the Mahabharata with a paranormal premise that has its heroine changed by way of a male illusionist demon. At first, the movie presentations how a taut script can paintings wonders. For a tale revolving across the Pandavas and Kauravas with their famed sport of cube as its drama cause, it’s spectacular the way it manages to growth with out the presence of the Pandavas. Therefore, any person uninitiated into the humongous internet of members of the family within the Mahabharata can also benefit from the movie as a standalone, adventurous love tale. Secondly, none of its epic characters include the standard halo that defines their on-screen presence. Even Krishna is going about his machinations discreetly. Their frailties, frame language and standard speech of the gods lead them to relatable and straight-out-of-life, albeit in gown. Thirdly, by way of opting for a tale with super magical moments/ phantasm, the movie makes perfect use of the technical benefit of the cinematic medium.
Sasirekha (Savitri), the daughter of Balarama and Revathi, is betrothed to Subhadra and Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu (ANR) of their youth within the presence of Krishna (NTR) and Rukmini. They develop up nurturing their love. But if misfortune moves the Pandavas they usually lose their kingdom in a sport of cube, Revathi is now not willing to honour the dedication to offer her daughter to the son of a prince with out a kingdom. When Subhadra involves Dwaraka to request Sasirekha’s hand for Abhimanyu, Revathi rudely turns her down. Balarama too, tricked by way of Duryodhana and his uncle Shakuni, is of the same opinion to Sasirekha marrying Duryodhana’s son Lakshman Kumar.
That’s when Krishna steps in with a secret plan aided by way of Abhimanyu’s cousin, the illusionist asura Ghatotkacha, to unite the pining enthusiasts. ‘Mayavi’ Ghatotkacha replaces the actual Sasirekha as princess in an illusory palace created by way of his proficient assistants to carry the groom’s celebration at bay. The actual intentions of the Kauravas in the end get uncovered amidst hilarious fallacious identities and magical mayhem unleashed by way of Ghatotkacha underneath Krishna’s steering. After all, the circle of relatives reconciles.
Regardless that Mayabazar options two of Telegu cinema’s iconic actors, a tender ANR and NTR, they don’t get to do a lot on the subject of histrionics. The finesse that NTR lent to his first onscreen Krishna avatar made him an undisputed famous person of the mythological style, and he went directly to play the nature 17 occasions. S.V. Ranga Rao’s Ghatotkacha stole the limelight with a positive mix of mischief and insanity, empathy and bravery.
However the movie’s spotlight is Savitri’s convincing twin portrayal of a princess and a monster-prince (Ghatotkacha as Sasirekha) that made her one of the admired actresses of her time. Convincingly portraying shringara and hasya rasas, Savitri interpreted the reactions of female and male genders to equivalent scenarios. For college kids of gender research, her position is a take a look at case on how behavioural stereotypes of the male and the feminine outline an Indian actor’s interpretation of characters, in the course of the dominant feelings that distinguish, personify and prohibit a ‘woman-as-woman’ vis-a-vis a ‘man-as-woman’.
Mayabazar additionally boasted of one of the vital largest technicians — from writing to track to camerawork. Whilst Pingali Nagendra Rao’s taut script lends urgency to the motion in addition to humour, his songs paintings as integral lyrical scenes that by no means decelerate the narrative. For example, the frilly opening tune, ‘Ahana pelianta’, works as a wonderful sutradhar whilst introducing us to the prolonged Yadava extended family, comprising the movie’s main characters even whilst organising their dating with the protagonist.
In response to a well-liked Telugu folktale, ‘Sasirekha Parinayam’, the script seamlessly integrates Andhra customs and traditions into the north Indian Yadava way of life. The affect is actually introduced house by way of mythical singer and track director Ghantasala’s songs of the soil set to original native tools.
Even as of late, the dinner party tune ‘Vivaha bhojanambu’ (Ghatotkacha gorging on choicest south Indian snacks) and the romantic quantity ‘Lahiri lahiri lahirilo’ is still well-liked. The undying enchantment of the movie’s soundtrack is evidenced from the truth that maximum of its songs have long past directly to encourage the names of many Telugu movies.
‘Laharilo’ additionally sticks out for prolific and completed cinematographer Marcus Bartley’s moonlight impact, which turned into a hallmark of his craft in each indoor and out of doors shoots. His different fulfillment was once the movie’s particular results completed via digital camera methods.
Mayabazar is not just a whole entertainer with all of the enjoyable navarasas (adbhuta, hasya, veera and shringara), its top creative requirements additionally have fun the surprise of movie-making.
The critic, writer, filmmaker is Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, RV College, Bengaluru.