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blast from the past

Garuda Garvabhangham 1936

M. D. Parthasarathy, M. S. Mohanambal, Serukalathur Sama, ‘Vidwan' Srinivasan, T. S. Mani, Vimala and M. D. Subramania Mudaliar



Popular tale Garuda Garvabhangham

The mythological tale about Lord Krishna, his wives Rukmini and Satyabhama, brother Balarama and Garuda, was so popular that it was made into a movie more than once and in more than one language. First made in 1929 as a silent film by the sadly forgotten A. Narayanan, it had an alternative title in English — ‘Pride of Satyabhama.' The film featured the multilingual filmmaker Y. V. Rao as Krishna and Devaki as Satyabhama.

It was made in Telugu as Garuda Garvabhangham in 1943 by noted filmmaker Ghantashala Balaramaiah (Prathibha Pictures) with P. Bhanumathi, Vedantham Raghavaiah, famed stage and screen star Vemuri Gaggaiah and Ramakrishna Sastri.

The first talkie version was made in 1936 by the South Indian film pioneer R. Padmanabhan who was responsible for the entry of another pioneer K. Subramanyam and the legendary Raja Sandow into filmdom. Produced under his banner Oriental Films, this film was shot at Pioneer Studios in Calcutta where Padmanabhan had made his earlier films.

After Duryodhana and his kin were defeated in the Kurukshetra battle, Balarama returns to find that Krishna was the cause of his friend Duryodhana's defeat. He vows to wreak vengeance on the Pandavas and begins to treat Krishna with contempt. Satyabhama and Rukmini misunderstand Krishna and fight as usual. Garuda, the ‘vahana' of Lord Vishnu, is fed up, as he has nothing to do. To curb Balarama, Satyabhama and Garuda, Krishna hatches a plot…

Sage Narada, known for his mischief-making, visits Hanuman and casually tells him that he is on his way to meet emperor Balarama. Hanuman, the eternal devotee of Lord Rama, is angered by the name Balarama. He asserts that there is no person stronger than Rama, and unless he changes his name, he would destroy him forever! Meanwhile, Krishna persuades Garuda to capture Hanuman. Garuda is trounced, and Balarama decides to fight Hanuman himself. However, Hanuman who goes in search of Balarama in his palace shatters him and his army. Then Hanuman, reminded of his past (Lanka Dahanam), sets fire to the palace. Krishna tells Hanuman that Balarama is the reincarnation of Lakshmana and promises him that they would give him ‘Rama Dharsanam.'

Krishna asks Satyabhama to come as Seetha. When she appears in expensive costume and jewellery, Krishna insults her for dressing up like a temple dancer! He then asks Rukmini who comes dressed as Seetha with modesty.

Rama, Lakshmana and Seetha give Hanuman Dharsanam and bless him with eternal joy.

Noted singing star of yesteryear Serukalathur Sama played Lord Krishna, while Vidwan Srinivasan played Narada. Noted music composer (of ‘Gemini Studios' fame) M. D. Parthasarathy played Hanuman and created much impact. Satyabhama was played by M.S. Mohanambal (her younger sister was M.S. Sarojini of Pakshiraja Studios).

As it often happened in mythological films of those days, Garuda Garvabhangham too had a ‘comedy song' with words such as halwa, kushi and shabhash. Anachronism? But then in those days, neither the makers nor the critics bothered! Indeed the song book had on its cover, ‘The best mythological and comical Tamil talkie!'

Remembered for: the popular story and impressive performance of Parthasarathy.

RANDOR GUY

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