Telugu people are invariably attached to Stage Drama especially the ones featuring poems. Their major source of entertainment in the past was with Stage Plays, which commenced from post dinner to early morning with requests of “Once More!” and applauses with whistles. When Telugu Talkie films were made, the stage plays were taken as it is, including the poems and were filmed.
The first Telugu Talkie film ‘Bhakta Prahalada’ is one good example. Another film that comes in this category is ‘Chintamani’ penned by Kallakuri Narayana Rao and was highly popular on stage. Chintamani’s glamor, Subbipetta’s comedy, Bilvamangaludu, Bhavani Shankarudu and their reciting of poems is a major highlight for the stage play. Based on this stage play, Kallakuri Narayana Rao’s son Sadasiva Rao made Chintamani as a feature film from the banner Madan Pictures from his own direction and released in the year 1933. The prominent stage actors of that age Ramatilakam, Pulipati Venkateshwarulu, Parvatibai, Y. Bhadracharyulu, P. Munuswamy and so on acted in it. The film’s shooting and postproduction was done in Calcutta. Radhakishan Chamriya offered his assistance to the film. Though it was a huge success on stage, Chintamani as a film was a failure. For some reason, audience could not admire the film as much as the stage play.
After 23 years of this commencement, in 1956 Bhanumathi and her husband Ramakrishna - a prominent director decided to make it in their home banner Bharani Pictures. Veteran writer Ravuri Venkata Satyanarayana made the script ready. While Addepalli Ramarao composed music for it, T.V.Raju composed the background score. Bhanumathi adorned the lead role of Chintamani, along with supervising the music department. Stalwarts like Bhanumathi, Jamuna, NTR, SVR, Relangi, Raghuramaiah and Rusheyndramani acted in this film.
Initially ANR was asked by Bhanumathi and Ramakrishna to play the role of Bilavamani, which was done by NTR. However, ANR politely refused the role- being a person who is very careful in selecting the roles. In fact, ANR even warned Bhanumathi to stop the project because playing the role of a prostitute might tarnish her image. However, Bhanumathi did not succumb to any external pressure, chose NTR for the role of Bilavamani, and completed the film. Though Chintamani as a stage play is very good, they had to add cheap entertainment masala elements such as vulgarity and double meaning dialogues to appease the audience. The same happened with Bharani Pictures Chintamani version. Most of the film was chopped off due to severe objection from Censor board and as a result, the final film lacked in entertainment factor.
Audience could not appreciate the film and Ramakrishna- Bhanumathi had to see lot of financial losses. ANR’s word came out to be true!