Director: Chittor V. Nagaiah; Writer: Chittor V. Nagaiah, Devulapalli Krishna Sastry, Y. Lakshminarayana; Cinematographer: M.A. Rehman; Cast: Chittor V. Nagaiah, Mudigonda Lingamurthy, Ramasarma, Gopalakrishnan, A.V. Subba Rao, K. Doraiswamy, T.R. Rajkumari, Girija, Vidyavati, Chhaya Devi, Master Krishna, Lakshmi
Nagaiah’s Tamil directing debut follows his celebrated performance in the epic melodrama Ezhai Padum Padu (1950), repeating the theme of the honest hero trapped in circumstances beyond his comprehension. The story is adapted from Samuel Butler’s autobiographical novel The Way of All Flesh (1903) and Louis King’s film version (1940). Bank clerk Shivram (Nagaiah giving a ponderously melodramatic performance) and his wife hope to see their two children grow up into classical Carnatic musicians. Trapped in a theft by the banker’s corrupt brother-in-law, Shivram is believed to have been killed and his family lives in extreme poverty for decades until Shivram turns up again, arrested for theft while watching his daughter’s birthday celebrations from the street. Eventually Shivram manages to unmask the real villains, Dhanraj and the dancer Leela (Vidyavati). Remembered for its extensive use of music, including a classical concert, the playback singing of M.L. Vasanthakumari and the extensive reference to radio via the public- interest broadcasts sponsored by the charitable Balananda Sangham. The Sangham also supports Shivram’s starving family, an initiative apparently adopted from this film by All-India Radio. Extending Nagaiah’s recourse to cross- cultural musical references, the film’s highlights are the two Hindi songs Pushpon ki rani and Main hasti gaati aayi (both sung by Meena Kapur) which accompany the Bombay-based courtesan Leela’s dances. Nagaiah’s own hit song is Adigadigo gaganaseema sung along with the children.