remake of his 1939 biographical of the Tirupathi temple deity is
a milestone in NTR's acting career. Balaji (NTR) descends to earth
following a celestial problem caused by Narada. On earth, as a common
man who is nevertheless recognized by all the 'good folk' as the
god, he falls for Padmavathi (Savitri). In the end, as two earthly
women, the 'heavenly' Lakshmi and Padmavathy, battle over him, he
turns into a statue. The film then turns into a documentary on the
Tirupathy temple, before the populist ending restores the god to
his true devotees as against the Brahmin clergy.
spite of the shift from celestial grandeur to semi documentary earthliness,
the film seeks to induce a childish religiosity, e.g. in the sequence
where Balaji is fed milk by a cow, the udder and his mouth being
framed, in close up, by a rock.
film's marketing suggested that viewing the film was a substitute
for visiting India's richest shrine, and papier mache replicas
of the icon were placed outside the movie theaters soliciting donations
in the name of god. Apparently the temple authorities later sued
the film's producer.
to Rama Rao's biographer S Venkatnarayan (1983), the star's politicizations
stems from the period when thousands of pilgrims from Tirupathy
also visited his Madras house. NTR later produced and directed another
Venkateswara version, Sri Tirupathi Venkateswara Kalyaam (1979).