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Aaani Muthyalu - Dr. Bhanumati Rama Krishna
- Vanaparthy Ranganath
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"aakasha veedilo haayiga egirevu
desha deshalanni tirigi choosevooo
eda tanunnado baava..
eda tanunnado baava..
jaada telisina poyi raava
andaala o meghamala..
aa.. chandaala o meghamala..."

goes the golden old song. Ever heard this one, many of us probably did many many times. Yupp!! this golden oldie is from the movie Malleeshwari starring swargiya Dr.NTR and the one and only allrounder of Telugu Cinema Dr.Bhanumathi Ramakrishna garu. On the occasion of her 76th birthday let us learn a little about this versatile personality.


Bhanumathi garu was born on September 7, 1925 to Sri Bommaraju Venkata Subbayya and Saraswathamma near Ongole. She was the second of the three girls that this couple had. Venkata Subbayya garu was a learned person and an artist by himself. He taught music to all his kids right from their childhood.

Entry into films and introduction with Sri Ramakrishna:-

It was in the year 1939, when Bhanumathi was barely 13 years old, Sri Chintajallu.Pullaih (popularly called as C.Pulliah) a friend of Venkata Subbayya garu approached him for allowing his daughter to act in his film. Pulliah was impressed by the fact that Bhanumathi was very good in singing. At that point, girls from good families were not allowed to act in movies because it was not considered decent. However, Venkata Subbayya garu was convinced by Pullaiah garu and he agreed that his daughter would act in the movie if no body touched her. And then the movie began. The movie was "Varavikrayam" and Bhanumathi played the role of Kalindi in that movie. Her character, though short, got recognition for her. She was paid Rs.350/- for her first movie and the movie was shot in Calcutta under East India Films banner. At that time the concept of playback singing was not in vogue. Actors were supposed to sing while they act and in this way Bhanumathi got a chance to sing in her first movie itself. She effectively sang the Thyagaraja keerthana "Palukave naa diavama……. parulu navede nyayama" and it is said that it was okayed in the first take itself. Such was the dedication and versatality of this new born actress.

Varavikrayam brought commercial success to Pulliah and Bhanumathi was flooded with offers. But she developed aversion towards films because she felt it was artificiality more than anything else in movies. She told that to her father many times but because she was flooded with offers her father did not let them go but he chose only good roles for her. Her next couples of movies were flops and her aversion towards movies kept growing.

It was during the shooting of the movie "Krishna Prema" in the year 1942, Bhanumathi came across a young and handsome personality. She learned that he was the assistant director of that movie. He was none other than Sri P.S. Ramakrishna Rao (Paluvayi Shiva Ramakrishna Rao). Meanwhile, Bhanumathi's father was looking for suitable alliances. Bhanumathi let her father know about her love towards Ramakrishna garu thru her elder sister. Her father did not like the idea of a person with filmi-background marrying Bhanumathi. And it was news to Sri Ramakrishna that the leading lady of the movie was in love with him. Their marriage took place against their elder's wishes and Bhanumathi chose to quit movies. The couple had a son whom they named Bharani.

Re-entry into movies:-

Bhanumathi chose to stay away from movies as her husband wished her to be a housewife more than anything else. However, it was the late B.N.Reddy who could attract her to movies back. He was planning a movie called "Swargaseema" and he wanted a young girl as the heroine for that movie. The other heroines of that time like Kannamba, Shantakumari etc. all were middle aged. B.N.Reddy convinced both Ramakrishna and Bhanumathi and the movie was made in the year 1943. The movie was a runaway hit and offers flooded Bhanumathi once again. But this time she chose to stay with films because she thought that her son should get the best of all the worlds.

Studio construction and entry into the field of direction:-

It was in the year 1945, there was only one notable studio in Madras named Vahini. Bhanumathi and her hubby thought that they could re-invest back into the field from which they earned money and then in the same year they constructed the studio, which they named after their son "Bharani". Bhanumathi continued her winning streak with films like grihapravesham etc. The couple did the film "Ratnamala" under their own banner in the year 1947. Her other subsequent movies like Laila Majnu, Malleeshwari were all hits. But the turning point came in the year 1953 when Bhanumathi fulfilled her desire of performing a dual role in the movie "Chandi-rani". This movie was simultaneously made in Telugu, Tamil and Hindi and was released on the same day all over India and thus Bhanumathi created history by becoming the first woman in the history of Indian Cinema who directed, produced, sang and acted in that movie.

Subsequent Films:-

Bhanumathi went on with acting in films like vipranarayana, chakrapani, tenali ramakrishna, varudu kavali. She also co-starred with ANR in the movie batasari under the direction of her hubby Ramakrishna rao. We could re-collect at this point that ANR garu rates batasari as the best movie in his career. Her other movies like bobbiliyuddam, antastulu till the recent peddarikam and chamanthi were all hits. It would be unnecessary to add here that Bhanumathi sang all the songs picturised on her by herself.


Often labeled as arrogant and proud by many stars and media, Bhanumathi garu is often misinterpreted. Her frank, "speak on the face" attitude brought her more foes than friends. But she always believed that if a person has talent and if he/she believes that they did not do any wrong they should never care of other things. (And even if she is, then why not J (It is not hard for us to accept a person who has qualifications like acting from age 14, constructing a studio at age 20, become the first woman to direct a movie etc. apart from being talented and beautiful to be a little arrogant.. a're be practical chicha )).


Bhanumathi garu won innumerable awards in her illustrious career. Notable among them are the national awards for the best actress in the movies Antasthulu, Bobbiliyuddam. She also won another national award for the movie Annai (Tamil).

The Government of India adorned her with Padmashri in the year 1966. The Government of Andhra Pradesh honored her with "Raghupati Venkayya Naidu" award in 1986. The Government of Tamilnadu conferred her with the award "Nadipukku Ilakkanam" which means the "dictionary/grammar for acting". She was appointed the Principal for Tamilnadu Govt. Music collage for the years 1986-88. Sri Venkateshwara University conferred her with a doctorate degree in the year 1984.

From Varavikrayam to Balayya's forthcoming Bhargav arts film, Bhanumathi garu has traveled a long way. It could be noted here that she was the star in ANR's and L.V.Prasad's debut movies (Am I trying to say here that she is senior to both of them J ). While many of her co-stars and directors were conferred "Dada Phalke award" in both Telugu and Tamil film industries, this most coveted award still stays away from her. salutes this greatest allrounder and hopes that her 76th birthday would get her the coveted award.


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