S.R. Puttanna Kanagal, fondly called the ‘Chitra Bramha’ was one of Indian cinema’s greatest filmmakers. Starting his career as a publicity boy Puttanna Kannagal created a new wave in the Kannada cinemas moving from mythological and historical subjects to socially relevant themes. Puttanna had a strong sense of color and imagery.
He would go to great lengths to select the locations and costumes for a song. His picturization skills with the then less technically aided cinema industry are highly commendable and remarkable. Puttanna was a fantastic, out of the world director and a phenomenal visualizer just born for the cinemas. Though numerous factors, what can be best highlighted about the legend is that.
Most of his movies are focused on the mind or the aspects one should develop internally to construct a strong personality from within. And conveyed over and again that ‘life is a war, within’. Each of his movies is unique, delivering high morales with his exceptional cinematography skills. Let’s have a look at some of his legendary movies
Puttanna Kanagal’s Nagarahavu is an epic movie based on T. R. Subba Rao’s three novels Nagarahavu, Ondu Gandu Eradu Hennu, and Sarpa Mathsara. The movie starring Vishnuvardhan, K. S. Ashwath, Aarathi and Shubha in lead roles is truly game-changing. The youth of today, the middle-aged or the old have one thing in common, that is a craze for this iconic movie. The conversations between Guru (Chamayya) and Shishya (Ramachari) is the highlight of the movie. Puttannas direction skills and his unique cinematic visualization is simply phenomenal.
The movie though being one of the old hits has so much to convey to this and the coming generations. It shouts out the mindest, mental challenges and social pressure faced by one during his teens. And the importance of guru in one’s life. And the role of a teacher as to, with what actual love and broadmindedness a student is supposed to be handled by his mentor. The movie has surely changed many lives and turned a revolutionizer in the history of Kannada cinemas.
Puttanna’s Sharapanjara is a fantabulous movie revolving around the issues of a woman’s chastity, depicting the acceptance of mentally ill by society and unfaithful spouses. How out of the box and genuine Puttana’s thoughts were?. He is indeed a treasure of Sandalwood!. Kalpana (Kaveri ) after the marriage falls mentally ill and is admitted to a mental hospital.
After recovery, she is all fine but only gets back to face shameful scorn from her family, neighbors and her very her husband who loses interest in her for the fact that she was mentally ill and gets into an extra-marital relationship. Unable to bear the extreme insults and harassment by society and husband, she ultimately goes insane and is admitted back to the same mental hospital. Puttanna Kanagal through the movie for sure throws ethical responsibility on all the viewers on how we treat people facing mental challenges.
Puttanna Kanagal’s breathtaking movie starring Aarathi and Ambarish in lead roles was a revolutionary one. Any amount of praises to Puttanna for his, this exceptional work is simply insufficient. His excellent thought process of how possibly a woman artists life could be is clearly depicted in the movie. The heroine, a popular theatre artist, falls in love with a rich, young man.
They eventually get married and beget a child, but Ranganayaki wanting to pursue her career is disliked by her husband who leaves the town with the child. Years later a young man falls in love with her, she reciprocates his love, but as a mother. She encounters her ex-husband and pleads him to show her son just for once. But as fate has it doesn’t happen, she gets into deep depression and commits suicide, too late for the young lover who realizes that he had fallen in love with his own mother. Wow! What a heart-wrenching story. Hats off to Puttanna for such extraordinary movies he entertains us with.
Subhamangala is a beautiful movie based on a novel of the same name by Vani, starring Aarathi and Srinath in lead roles. The direction of Hema(Aarathi) as a pampered girl brought up with extreme love and care by her father is thought-provokingly portrayed by the extraordinary director. Hema is playful and acts like a kid in all matters even though she has reached marriageable age. She then meets Prabhakara, her cousin who is visiting her village after many years but his father opposes their friendship.
It is heart touching when Hema’s father dies. The movie is all about how Hema from a pampered girl, only being dependent on father grows into a self-reliant woman who earns a living, not wanting to depend on others. The movie has moved many who could relate to similar situations in life.
Manasa Sarovara (1982)
Wow! What a movie was Puttanna Kanagal’s Manasa Sarovara starring Srinath and Padmavasanthi in the lead roles. Manasa meaning the mind, the movie is all about mental challenges and how thoughts internally decide one’s external personality. A middle-aged psychiatrist finds a young insane woman wandering aimlessly along the streets. He takes her to his abode for treatment. Slowly the woman recovers from her trauma.
The doctor promptly falls in love with her and decides to marry her. In the meantime, the doctor’s nephew arrives and falls head over heels for her. The doctor who had cured her, unable to tolerate this intimacy ultimately goes insane. Puttanna’s directions on highlighting the traumas internally and convincing people that a person is nothing but his mind and thoughts repeatedly is commendable and a must watch especially to the youth of today.
Edakallu Guddada Mele (1973)
The movie was based on a novel by Bharathisutha of the same name. Starring Jayanthi, Aarathi, Chandrashekar, Shivaram in lead roles, it was Puttanna’s as usual 100 day-run movie and a super duper hit!. The movie begins with Sanskrit saying, ‘Kaamaaturaanam Nabhayam Nalajja’, meaning a ‘lustful person knows neither fear nor shame.’ and the rest of the movie attempts to illustrate the same. ‘Kaama’ is one of the six moral weaknesses, these six enemies are there within troubling every being out there, but the only difference is about the intensities is what the movie conveys.
So the story is all about a couple and their young neighbor who gets entangled in a complex relationship falling prey to ‘Kaama’. A must watch especially to the youth these days who find it hard to get over the enemies within which only leads them destructing their own lives.
Belli Moda (1967)
Belli Moda is Puttana Kannagal ’s wonderful movie based on a novel by the same name, written by Triveni. The movie examines the tumults in the lives of the people residing in the ‘Belli Moda’ estate. Indira is the heiress of her father’s estate. A young man, Mohan, is engaged to her and is desirous of owning Belli Moda, and leaves to the US for studies. Mohan falls from the mountain and is severely injured in an accident.
He is nursed by Indira, and then, Mohan falls truly in love with her and proposes her marriage who had earlier rejected her as he realized property would go he her brother. However, this time, Indira refuses to marry him and breaks his heart, for he only cared about her wealth. So this is how Puttana used to live us provoked with ethical values such as pure love is in no comparison to wealth and many more relevant social messages which is actually required to people of today.
Upasane is Puttanna’s fantastic musical drama film based on the novel of the same name written by Devaki Murthy. The film majorly had women playing the lead roles comprising Aarathi, Leelavathi, M.N Lakshmi Devi etc. The film dealt with the plight of Sharadha (Aarathi) who intends to pursue her career in classical music.
It heartily portrays how the artist has to face numerous challenges and obstacles to put up with her passion for the art form. The film went on to win multiple high-profile awards at the Karnataka State Film Awards for the year 1974-75 including the Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography. Aarathi, who played the protagonist at her age of 19, won the Filmfare Best Actress award. A must watch to all the music lovers out there.
Bili Hendati (1975)
Puttanna’s movie which people went crazy about and became the only talk of the town then with his new introduction of the western actress Margaret Thomsen. During those times watching the western model with her ethnic wear and dialogues in Kannada were simply so thrilling to the general public. Sharada (Arathi) is affianced to a guy who is visiting the United States. Being thus a de facto daughter-in-law, she assumes the role and practically lives with her in-laws. However, when her fiancé returns, she finds out that he has married to Elisa, a “white woman”, and is no longer interested in her.
The rest of the story revolves around how Elisa wins overall and sundry with her agreeable character and willingness to meld and melt into Indian society. Sharada assumes a larger-than-life good Samaritan character, which is presumably the very antithesis of a jilted lover. Puttanna’s contribution is to be saluted!.
The most loved and appreciated movie by the audience is Puttanna’s brilliant movie starring Dr. Rajkumar, Jamuna, and Prithviraj Kapoor. The story revolves around the dangers of superstition, particularly when it concerns marriage and how unscrupulous elements in society could manipulate these beliefs to their benefit and lead to tragic consequences. This way Puttana used to deliver some ‘then happening’ and had to be considered dangerous social complications’ which only focus on destroying the peace and harmony of the society and affect the wellbeing of individuals.
A must watch to everybody looking forward to some iconic, legendary acting directed by the legend Puttanna Kannagal himself leaving behind messages strong enough to change one’s life.