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Laughing is a luxury

At his height, Jandhyala almost wielded a regal power over the realm of comedy in movies, says A. Saye Sekhar

Jandyala's statue at Tummalapallivari Kshetrayya Kalakshetram in Vijayawada. Photos: Ch. Vijaya Bhaskar

IT'S MORE than two years since the King of Comedy in Tollywood, Jandhyala, passed away. But, there is no let up of his sweet memories in the minds of moviegoers across the State, more so in his motherland.

Virtually every Telugu person must have seen his "behind-the-scene" magic on the silver screen in the actors, who seemed well entrenched in the roles they donned, and heard his sensitive wit through them all. From early-eighties, he became the most popular movie director the Telugu cinema has known.

Dream comes true

Commemorating his birth anniversary, a group of Jandhyala's pals in Vijayawada, put up his bronze bust on the premises of Tummalapallivari Kshetrayya Kalakshetram, a right place to the right man at the right moment.

Perhaps, he is the only movie director to have this honour posthumously. "Abhiruchi" Panduranga Rao and M.C.Das, close associates of Jandhyala, took the initiative and motivated Lanco group to shoulder the onus of having the bust carved. Abhiruchi, a cultural organization, presents awards to celebrity artistes every January 13 -- on the eve of Jandhyala's birth anniversary. An off-the-cuff suggestion from someone on this occasion last year became the seed-crystal for the project and it was realized on the "bhogi" day this year.

Significantly, the unveiling of the statuette synchronized with the conduct of Nandi Natakotsavams-2004 - a mega drama fete - for the first time in Vijayawada, that too at the same venue.

Jandhyala Venkata Durga Siva Subrahmanya Sastry may not be all too familiar even to many of his friends with this long name. But, there is hardly anyone who doesn't know Jandhyala. The few who are known to him are determined to keep his memories alive in the hearts of Telugus, hence the effort.

Portrayal of commoner

Beyond his enormous impact on popular comedy in the Telugu tinsel world, Jandhyala laid thrust on making full-fledged family entertainers. He impaled the foibles of every commoner or an aristocrat. Every person found his own antics and angularities, or of those who he came across in everyday life, in some very ordinary characters portrayed on the screen.

In his dialogue-writing and also direction in his time, Jandhyala took sensitive potshots at the doings of assorted nabobs, stuffed shirts in typical Telugu families, village footpads, miserable misers, secret polluters, tax evaders, preening lawyers, idiosyncratic doctors, oily accountants, defendants who got off too easily and celebrities who talked too much.

All these oddments were sliced and diced so neatly, so politely, so unmaliciously, with so much alacrity, that even those who encountered almost themselves in the portrayals smiled with ease.

As a matter of fact, people of all hues couldn't say whether they were on Jandhyala's side or he was on theirs. All they knew was that they liked him and felt they knew him - a claim most of those who were close to him in his life would not make with much confidence.

He was affable, accessible, charming and amusing and the kind of guy you would gladly welcome into your home.

Studied in the city's SRR&CVR Government Degree College, Jandhyala moved and lived all over the city, at least in the hearts of people after he made it to the big screen. Being a playwright was an inborn quality for him, Mr. Panduranga Rao says. "Sumadhura" Prasad fondly recalls Jandhyala's attributes and says the late director had his feet firmly rooted in the ground, despite his success.

"Sumadhura Kalaniketan's" efforts to promote comedy play-lets always enjoyed his blessings in his lifetime, Prasad claims with a sense of pride.

* * *

Hits and wits

As was his wont, Jandhyala always liked humour and authored several social play-lets like Bahukurtha Vesham, Ek Din Ka Sultan, O Cheekati Ratri, Gundelu Marchabadunu and Mandodari Mahila Mandali. His Sandhyaraagamlo Shankhaaraavam, a full length social play, won laurels to him and paved way for his forays into the filmdom. Writing dialogues for NTR-starrer Adavi Ramudu, Vetagadu and several other movies, Jandhyala firmed up his position in the movie world. His first directorial venture was Mudda Mandaram, while the Ushakrion Movies' Srivariki Premalekha was a super hit comedy. Aha Naa Pellanta, Rendrellaaru and Vivaha Bhojanambu were the typical Jandhyala-mark films. Through Nalugu Sthambhalaata, he promoted the "Suthi pair", and brought out the innate talent of artistes like Brahmanandam, Naresh, Kota Srinivasa Rao, Gundu Hanumantha Rao and Sri Lakshmi, who still are the darlings of masses for their comedy roles. Ananda Bhairavi, which he directed fetched him the State Government's golden Nandi award.

Despite his moorings anchored in Vijayawada, his thoughts were always afloat in the blue seas of Visakhapatnam. It's for this reason, most of his movies had Vizag as their backdrop.


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