A Tribute to a legendary Director B.N.Reddy
The Telugu cinema, which once had its glorious days, has now become a cesspool of cheap entertainment. Rich thematic and aesthetic values, for which it was once famous, are now largely absent from it. The rise in number of productions and multifold increase in budget are matched by degeneration in aesthetic quality.
In the thirties and forties a whole lot of intellectulals,journalists and writers like C.Pullaiah, Gudavalli Ramabramham, P.Pullaiah, L.V.Prasad and B.N.Reddy brought glories to the Telugu film industry crusading against social evils without overlooking aesthetic and entertainment aspects of a film.
Of them B.N.Reddy and L.V.Prasad were appropriate personalities to be called ‘founding fathers of Telugu film industry’ for the instrumental role they played in veering nascent Telugu film industry in ’40 and ’50 towards reformist zone. Surprisingly both of them were born in the same year and 2008 happened to be the centenary for the duo. In the hustling to maximize returns none of the present crops of heroes and movie association members have any inkling to these legendaries figures centenary year.
Soon after the death of B.N.Reddy in the year 1977, writing an obituary, A.S.Raman, the first Indian editor of illustrated weekly of India says ‘’… he had been a sick man, sick not only because of his physical ailments but on account of the tension and anguish that failure of the commercial cinema in India in general and in Andhra Pradesh in particular had caused him”.
He was one of the most respected pioneers of the quality cinema in the south. Each of the eleven pictures he directed over a period of nearly 40 years is good by any test.
It said in his final days of life he was a frustrated man because he felt unwanted by the industry. He was worried a lot over the erosion of values in the film industry. All of his films are epitomes of idealism, lyricism, and romanticism of that period i.e.30s and 40s.A lot of times he advised newcomers that it is possible to make plenty of money without departing from decency in content and offering the public clean and lively entertainment.
Though he confined to making Telugu films he was as significant national figure and as familiar as stalwarts of Devakibose, Shataram in those days. He proved that the regional films also could evoke the national mood. Devakibose remade BNs ‘’Bangarupapa’’ in Bengali language that was first Telugu film remade into Bengali. Though he dreamt of making films on the lives of Ramanujam and Kshetrayya could not make as conditions were not conducive for his line of thinking.
Life in Brief.
BN.REDDY was born on November 16, 1908 in a family of farmers in Pulivendula taluka of Kadapa district and later migrated to Madras in search of good fortunes. B.N. had his childhood and academic life in Chennai. Though B.N. was the first in the family to start career in films his brothers later followed him, his immediate brother B.Nagi reddy was pioneer of the action film genre in the Telugu film industry and the second one Kondareddy was a cameraman. Though BN studied charted accountancy, the arrival of Telugu talkie had profound impact on him. His foray into Telugu film industry had something to do with his interest in literary activities and his keen interest in acting.
All his films are made under his banner except the one PUJAPHALAM, which he directed for Shabhu films.
He had the credit of Gandhiji watching his action when they played VARAVIKRAYA drama in Chennai and fortune of watching Ravindranath Tagaore acting in a drama when he visited Shanthiniketan.
All his films had local colour.The social theme was his forte. The main object was, not to dramatize the dreary documentary detail but to probe the nature of class conflict in terms of the economic pressure and compulsions. He never went beyond what he was absolutely sure of.
BN made his directorial debut with Vahuni pictures, a production unit he founded in collaboration with his friend Moola Narayanaswamy ‘VANDEMATHARM’ a social film with strong stress on nationalism. The film was instant sensation, such was its impact then Nizam banned it because of its likely impact on his subjects. Since then he had never looked back and went on to direct hit after hit, even though some of his colleagues left his camp midway for personnel reasons.
The jewel in his star-studded fil mography was ‘Mallliswary’ a film set in the spacious days of the Vijayanagara Empire under the reign of Srikrishandevaraya. It was the first Telugu film to cross the Indian border.
It is heard, as the government and filmindursty has not shown much interest in centenary celebrations, BN’ grand daughter (an IFS officer and Ambassador to Thailand) and grand son who is in US throwing are putting in all efforts to make occasion a grand success.
BN died on 8-11- 1977 after prolonged illness.
LIST OF BNREDDY FILMS