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Kanyasulkam (కన్యాశుల్కం) 1955


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BannerVinoda Pictures
DirectorP. Pullaiah
WriterGurajada Appa Rao, Vempati Sadasivabrahmam
ProducerD.L. Narayana
Music DirectorGantasala Venkateswara Rao
Film EditingR. Hanumamta Rao
Art Directorgodagamkaru, vaali
Camera OperatorN. Prakash
Assistant CameramenJaihind Satyam, R.N. Nagaraja Rao
Playback SingersGhantasala,P.Susheela, Padmapriya,M.Satyam
CharacterActor / Actress
GireesamNandamuri Taraka Ramarao
Ramappa Pantuluchilakalapudi seetha rama anjaneyulu
Lubdhavadhanlugovindarajula subba rao
buchammasowcar janaki
karataka sastrivangara venkata subbaiah
sowjanya roa pantulugummadi venkateswara rao
putakullammachaya devi
police inspectorpeketi sivaram
first filmsharada
Madhuravani, the muse of Girisam during the beginning of the play, and that of Ramappa Panthulu in the rest of the play, is portrayed as a very righteous, wise, magnanimous and able woman who is willing to even bend over backwards to help someone in need. This way the play sought to take on the prejudices and practices of contemporary Indian society head-on. The play includes a few gut-wrenching scenes such as one where Agnihothravadhanulu, an egoistic, male-chauvinistic Brahmin and a key player in the play, barbarically slams his food plate onto the face of his young, widowed daughter, when she requests that he reconsider his decision to marry his pre-pubescent daughter to an old man. The practice of parents arranging the marriages of their pre-pubescent daughters to old men for cash was very prevalent during those days, and was referred to popularly as Kanyasulkam, literally meaning "money in lieu for a girl", which also forms the title of the play.

The play also depicts, amusingly, the practices of orthodox Brahmins, such as Madi, with a particular character in the play even shrivelling away from everyone and everything like a touch-me-not, lest he might lose his sanctity. (He even has to perform some "religious cleansing" for the things someone touched before he can touch them.)

The play also has numerous lighter moments, notably regarding the marriage of the stingy old man, Lubdhavadhanulu. Much of that comedy occurs as dialogue between Girisam and his various love interests, and also during the marriage of Lubdhavadhanulu to a boy disguised as a girl. Contemporary Indian society is depicted in a very real fashion, without glorifying it so that it has the effect of being 'in-your-face'. Numerous interesting characters spring up during various points of the play, such as the widowed owner of a local food court, referred to as Pootakoolla 'Munda' (the word in quotes being an offensive word for a widow, originating from 'Mundan', meaning shaving, in Sanskrit and Telugu, because during that period, a woman had to shave her hair off after her husband's death), the debauched and widowed daughter of Lubdhavadhanulu, Meenakshi, and the son of Lubdhavadhanulu. They are very much similar in their notions and prejudices to the people one may see in any Indian village even today.

In Girisam, we can see that kind of a young man who is opportunistic, yearns for momentary pleasures, desires easy money and is unwilling to work, for the simple reason that he is too fickle-minded to hold any particular job for a considerable amount of time. He is so unwilling, in fact, that he wouldn't think twice about taking the easiest path to fulfilling his desires, even if he is trampling upon someone else's life while he is on his way. He claims to be a progressionist, but claiming is all he does. In Meenakshi, we may see a woman who might have been widowed even before she hit puberty. She was therefore paying for a mistake that was anyone's but hers and was being accused of being unfaithful to a husband she did not have. Ramappa Panthulu is a middle man and very incompetent one at that. He tries to twist and turn every situation in his favor, but ends up being entangled in the very much he himself created in the first place. He is a victim of his own making. Probably, Madhuravani and PootaKoolla 'Munda' are the only characters who have strong moral footing and maintain their stand throughout the play. There are no surprises, shocks, or suspense regarding the characters of the persons and flaws in their characters, if any, are laid out clearly by the playwright.
Release date1955

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