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Devadasu (1953 film)

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Devadasu (1953 film)

Theatrical release poster of the Telugu version
Directed by Vedantam Raghavaiah
Produced by D. L. Narayana
Written by Samudrala Raghavacharya (Telugu dialogues)
Udayakumar (Tamil dialogues)
Screenplay by Vedantham Raghaviah
Based on Devadas by Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay
Starring Akkineni Nageswara Rao
S.V.Ranga Rao
Music by C. R. Subburaman (soundtrack)
Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy (background-score)
Cinematography B. S. Ranga
Edited by P. V. Narayana
Revathi Studios
Narasu Studios
Vikrama Studios
Distributed by Vinoda Pictures
Release dates
26 June 1953 (Telugu)
11 September 1953 (Tamil)
Running time
176 minutes[1]
Country India
Language Telugu

Devadasu is a 1953 Indian bilingual romance film directed by Vedantam Raghavaiah and produced by D. L. Narayana under Vinodha Pictures. Released initially in the Telugu language, based on Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay novel, Devdas. The soundtrack was composed by C. R. Subburaman.

The film was shot simultaneously in Telugu and Tamil (as Devadas) with slightly different casts. The Telugu version features Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Savitri, and Lalitha in the lead roles with S. V. Ranga Rao, Seetarama Anjaneyulu, Dorasamy and Surabhi Kamalabai playing supporting roles. M. N. Nambiar, Sachu and Chandrakumari played supporting roles respectively in the Tamil version. C. R. Subbaraman composed the film's music. The film was edited by P. V. Narayanan, while B. S. Ranga provided the cinematography. The film is the inaugural recipient of the Filmfare Award for Best Film - Telugu.

The film focuses on Devadasu and Parvathi, who were in love since childhood. Parvathi's father objects to the relationship and forces her to marry a middle aged zamindar. Unable to cope up with the failure, Devadas turns into a drunkard and rest of the film is about whether Devadas meets Parvathi or not. Devadasu released on 26 June 1953 and Tamil version released three months later. Both versions were critically and commercially successful. The Telugu version has since have achieved cult status, with terms and phrases from the film being widely cited. Both versions proved to be a major breakthrough in Nageswara Rao's career. The Telugu version is listed among CNN-IBN's list of hundred greatest Indian films of all time.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Music 4
  • Release and reception 5
  • Legacy and influences 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • Bibliography 9
  • External links 10


Devadasu, son of Ravulapalle zamindar Narayana Rao (S. V. Ranga Rao), and Parvati, daughter of his not-so-rich neighbour Neelakantham (Doraswamy) are childhood friends. The zamindar enrolls his son in a boarding school in the city. The grown-up Devadasu (Akkineni Nageswara Rao) returns to the village after his education. His childhood friendship with Parvati now turns into love.

When Parvati’s grand mother (Surabhi Kamalabai) talks of the alliance, the zamindar spurns the proposal. A peeved Neelakantham vows to find a wealthier prospective son-in-law home and arranges Parvati’s marriage with the zamindar of Durgapuram (Chilakalapudi Seeta Rama Anjaneyulu), an elderly widower with children. Parvati stealthily meets Devadasu and asks him to accept her as wife.

Devadasu is surprised at her visit, sends her away and he goes back to the city. He writes to Parvati that he cannot defy his parents so Parvati marries the old zamindar. Devadasu is despondent unable to forget her so drinks alcohol excessively and is encouraged by his friend Bhagawan (Peketi Sivaram), who also introduces him to a courtesan Chandramukhi (Lalita).

While Parvathi settles in her new house, Devadasu chooses the path of self-destruction. On the advice of Chandramukhi, he leaves for his village, but goes to Durgapuram to keep a promise he had made to Parvati that he visit her before his death. Devadasu breathes his last in front of her house. Parvati rushes to see him, but the door is closed by her family and she collapses.



""When people saw me on screen in Devadasu, they assumed that I starved myself to look like the heartbroken, alcoholic that I played on screen. Truth is far from it. I was actually healthy with robust looks. After watching myself I realised that no matter how hard i tried, I didn't look like a drunkard because my eyes were clear. So, I requested the director to shift the shooting schedule to the night. I used to stuff myself with heavy dinner and then shoot overnight... even as my eyes were dropping, heavy with sleep. The effect was excellent and that's how I pulled Devadasu off."

 – Akkineni Nageswara Rao, on his character in an interview with Suresh Kavirayani of The Times of India in April 2013.[2]

D. L. Narayana signed Vedantham Raghaviah to direct a bilingual film Devadasu in Telugu and Tamil under the production banner of Narasu Studios. The film's script, which was written by Chakrapani himself, was based on Devadas by

External links


  1. ^ a b c d Dhananjayan 2014, p. 103.
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  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i
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  6. ^ a b c d
  7. ^ a b Dhananjayan 2014, p. 104.
  8. ^ a b
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  11. ^ Baskaran 1996, p. 92.
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  16. ^ a b
  17. ^ Dhananjayan 2011, p. 133.
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  1. ^ Vasantha Maligai and Vazhvey Maayam were remakes of Telugu films Prem Nagar (1971) and Premabhishekham (1978).
  2. ^ Nageswara Rao again portrayed tragic characters in films like Prem Nagar (1971) and Premabhishekham (1978).[16]


In July 2007, S. R. Ashok Kumar asked eight Tamil directors to list ten of their favourite films. Balu Mahendra named Devadasu as one of his top ten Tamil films. Mahendra added that the film had "superb lighting by B.S.Ranga, excellent performance by A. Nageswara Rao and Savithri and haunting music by C.R.Subbaraman".[20] YVS Chowdary titled his 2006 comedy film as Devadasu, which had no similarity with this film.[21] CNN-IBN included the film in its list of "100 greatest Indian films of all time".[22]

[19] (1955).Missamma Nageswara Rao in order to get rid of the tragic-romantic hero image took up the comic role in [2] in similar roles.typecast The film proved to be a major breakthrough in Nageswara Rao's career. The success of the film made him known as "Tragedy King" and also lead him in getting [18] Other films that followed its theme include [16] is regarded as one of the most successful films in both Tamil and Telugu cinema.Devadasu

Legacy and influences

Devadasu received positive reviews from critics upon its release. M. L. Narasimham of The Hindu praised the performances of the film's cast, particularly that of Nageswara Rao. He added that B. S. Ranga's "excellent" cinematography and C. R. Subbaraman's music were the film's highlights apart from Vedantham Raghavaiah's direction.[6] Randor Guy wrote that the film was remembered for "empathetically brilliant performance of Nageswara Rao in the title role and equally impressive acting by Savithri".[4][15] Cinegoer wrote "The superb direction by Sri Vedantham Raghavaiah made the film an immortal classic".[3]

The Telugu version of Devadasu was released on 26 June 1953, whereas the Tamil version was released three months later on 11 September 1953.[7] Both versions were released with an approximate final reel length of 5,260 metres (17,260 ft) and were given a "U" (Universal) certificate by the Central Board of Film Certification with a run time of 190 and 192 minutes, respectively.[12][13] Both versions were commercially successful, with the Telugu version completing a theatrical run of 100 days. The film is the inaugural recipient of the Filmfare Award for Best Film - Telugu.[14]

Release and reception

Tracklist of the Tamil version[9]
No. Title Singer(s) Length
1. "Santosham Vendrum"   R. Balasaraswathi Devi 3.17
2. "Ellam Maayai"   K. Rani 03:02
3. "uravum Illai"   Ghantasala, K. Rani 04:15
4. "Jagame Maya"   Ghantasala 03:17
5. "Oh Devatha"   K. Jamunarani, Udutha Sarojini 02:51
6. "Paramugam Enaya"   R. Balasaraswathi 03:32
7. "Thunintha Pin"   Ghantasala 03:08
8. "O Devadas"   Ghantasala, Jikki 02:51
9. "Santosham Tharum"   Ghantasala 02:27
10. "Anbe Pavama"   Balasaraswathi Devi 03:16
11. "Kanavithuthan"   Ghantasala 03/08
All lyrics written by Udayakumar, KD Santhanam, except where noted. 
Tracklist of the Telugu version[8]
No. Title Singer(s) Length
1. "Andaala Anandam"   R. Balasaraswathi Devi 3.17
2. "Antha Bhranthi Yena"   K. Rani 03:02
3. "Chelitya Ledhu"   Ghantasala, K. Rani 04:05
4. "Jagame Maya"   Ghantasala 03:17
5. "Oh Devatha"   K. Jamunarani, Udutha Sarojini 02:51
6. "Intha Telisiyundi"   R. Balasaraswathi 03:32
7. "Kudi Yemaithe"   Ghantasala 03:08
8. "O Devadas"   Ghantasala, Jikki 02:51
9. "Palleki Podam"   Ghantasala 02:27
10. "Thane Marena"   Balasaraswathi Devi 03:16
11. "Kala Idani"   Ghantasala 03.08
, except where noted.  Samudrala RaghavacharyaAll lyrics written by

It received positive reviews from critics, Randor Guy of The Hindu noted that the songs "contributed to the success".[4] M. L. Narasimham from the same newspaper also praised the songs noting "The major contribution to the film’s success, however, came from the music director, a genius called C.R. Subbaraman. Every song he composed is a hit to this day.."[6] S. Theodore Baskaran in his book The Eye of the Serpent noted, "One factor that sustains the popularity of this film to this is the songs [sic]".[11]

The soundtrack of Telugu version was released on 31 December 1953 while that of the Tamil version was also released on the same date; both were marketed by HMV.[8][9] The soundtrack was a huge commercial success, with "Jagame Maaya", in particular, achieving classic status. Songs like "Ulage Maayam" and "O Devadas" became popular among the Tamil diaspora.[10]

The official soundtracks of Devadas were composed by C. R. Subbaraman, the lyrics of which were written by Samudrala Raghavacharya and Thanjai N. Ramaiah Dass & K. D. Santhanam for the Telugu and Tamil versions respectively.[3][1] There was a controversy regarding the credit of lyricist in the film. Though Samudrala is credited as the lyric writer in the film, however the researcher V. A. K. Ranga Rao claims that Malladi Ramakrishna Sasthri wrote some of the lyrics.[3] C. R. Subbaraman died before the film's release, remaining songs were composed by their assistants M. S. Viswanathan and T. K. Ramamoorthy.[6]

Soundtrack album To Devadasu by C. R. Subbaraman
Genre Feature film soundtrack
Length 32:25
Language Telugu
Label HMV Records
Producer C. R. Subbaraman


Principal photography commenced with Nagaraja Rao, a still photographer who shot some stills of Nageswara Rao in the guise of Devadasu, with a glass in his hand and looks of a drunkard. Rao also took shots of Savithri in Parvathi's make-up in Naarsu's Studio, Narayana who was impressed with these stills decided to use the same make-up for the real shooting of the film. Narayana has shown these make-up stills to Mangaiah, the make-up man, who followed the same.[3] Nageswara Rao, who portrayed the titular character, recalled that Vedantam, being a Kuchipudi dance exponent and a veteran stage actor, used to enact the scenes before the actors, thereby making their job easy. He even recalled that the character's half asleep makeup was a result of hardwork by makeup man Mangaiah and director shot him only at night so that he could get a "natural" feel to the hero's drunken look and those scenes were shot for 53 days.[7]

After the shoot was held for a week, the film was shelved owing to the view that such a tragic tale might not work out in Telugu which led the banner to produce Shanti, which was a failure.[6] D. L. Narayana decide to revive the film after encouraged by the success of Stri Sahasam.[3] Sowcar Janaki who was originally chosen for the character of Parvathi opted out of the film as she could not spared fates, she was then replaced by Savithri.[3]

The makers chose Nageswara Rao and Sowcar Janaki as the lead pair. Arani Sathyanarayana portrayed the role of Devadasu's man Friday.[5] Peketi Sivaram who went on to become a famous director portrayed the role of Bhagawan. SV Ranga Rao, CSR, Surabhi Kamala Bai were selected to portray supporting roles. Seetharam, featured in a minor role of a cartman.[3] Lalitha of the Travancore Sisters was signed to play Chandramukhi.

[1] was recruited as the director of photography and P. V. Narayanan edited the film. Vali and Kotwankar were the art directors.B. S. Ranga [1][3] and Udaykumar wrote the dialogue for the Telugu and Tamil versions respectively.Samudrala Raghavacharya [4]

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