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1956 158’ b&w Telugu d P.S. Ramakrishna Rao pc Bharani Pics s/lyr Ravoor Venkata Satyanarayana Rao c Sridhar m P. Bhanumathi, Addepalli Rama Rao lp P. Bhanumathi, N.T. Rama Rao, Jamuna, S.V. Ranga Rao, Relangi Venkatramaiah, Kalyanam Raghuramaiah, Rushyendramani, Lakshmikantam

Bharani Studios’ remake of Y.V. Rao’s Tamil mythological, Chintamani (1937). Chintamani (Bhanumathi), forced into prostitution by her mother, falls in love with the merchant Bilwamangal (NTR). The latter reciprocates her feelings, which leads to much tragedy, revealed in mystical imagery: his wife’s corpse and a python help Bilwamangal cross a river to be with his beloved. Chintamani is disillusioned, prompting the gods Krishna and Rukmini to descend to earth to show her the right path. The legend was filmed repeatedly, some versions presenting it as a biography of the saint poet Surdas (Homi Master’s silent Bilwamangal, 1929; Madan Theatres’ Bilwamangal, 1932). Most Hindi and Bengali versions tell the story from the male perspective, following Girish Ghosh’s famous play Bilwamangal (1886), but the South Indian films narrate Chintamani’s tale. Although at times accused of plagiarising

  1. Ramchandra’s Hindi compositions from Azad (1955), Bhanumathi’s score is successful (e.g. Ravoyi ravoyi, Punnami chakorinoyi). Kannada actress B. Saroja Devi repeated the title role the following year.