Subhalekha- A tribute to Individuality and Self-Respect- Part 1:

Till now in Marapuraani Chitralu we have seen the dimension of Comedy, Fine Arts, Love, and Politics in Telugu Cinema from my posts as well as posts written by my friend Deepti. We have seen the excellent depth to certain extent in the aforementioned aspects. Now it is the time to take a different turn in reminding about the worth of a human being and the revolutionary thought it can come to when Social Evils prevail at an annoying extent in the Society.

There are very few films in Telugu Cinema which talk about self-respect, individuality and importance of a human being through strong characterization and powerful dialogues. How wonderful it would be if the characters are not only a symbol of individuality but also confront the social evils which prevail in our Society? And brilliant it would be if a film is like an eye-opener for majority of people we encounter in daily life who feels that having a female child is a drawback and try to use their male children as the source of investment in the future?

One such thought provoking film which came in Early 80s was directed by the great KaLa Tapasvi K.Vishwanath sir named Subhalekha. This film gave a pretty new dimension to the image of Hero who is totally de-glamorized and works as a Hotel Waiter. Chiranjeevi as Murthy was shown completely mellowed and at the same time as a powerful individual who believes working for oneself is the utmost way of satisfaction- no matter what work it can be! The actor Sudhakar who is in this film became so famous after this film that his name has become “Subhalekha” Sudhakar even till date! The female lead played by Sumalatha was not a glam girl but a lady with utmost quotient of dignity and looks like as if she is somebody next door!

Subhalekha was a welcome change in every respect for not only confronting the social evils but also creating a new wave of entertainment with breathtaking simplicity as well as powerful characters throughout!

I don’t want to elaborate further about how well the film influenced a generation of thought but would like to proceed further about what exactly happens in the film- to break the curiosity for the reader who is not familiar with this masterpiece!

The first scene in the film is what we see the introduction of a hotel waiter Murthy (Chiranjeevi when he did not become Megastar yet but was brilliantly the character!) giving newspapers to every room present in the Hotel. Telugu Audience who are so used to the hero doing a meaningless fight or come with bunch of group dancers singing how great his philosophy is would find this introduction highly intriguing! This scene shows a great fact that Hero is also a normal human being like us all who fears the entry of a dog in one particular room!

Generally if a person who is scared of dogs encounters a ferocious one in an accident, he/she gets scared or they scream. But K.Vishwanath shows the tremendous dancing talent in Murthy where he diverts the Dog by his timely Western Dance steps! Not even within few minutes, we get to know the dancing interest in Murthy!! Such is the genius of great directors where the character is established in a very short notice but in a rock steady manner!

I am posting the above mentioned scene here so that the viewer gets the exact idea of how brilliantly Murthy(Chiranjeevi) dances!!

The Managing Director of Allwyn who stays in the Hotel during this scene watches this brilliant feast of dance and requests Murthy to dance for the ad which they were going to film soon.  Watch out for Chiranjeevi’s excellent dancing talent in various dance forms of India in these particular scenes!

Murthy has a grandmother(Nirmala) in their village who feels proud by just saying that her husband used to be a Tahsildhar (Government Servant) and they used to have huge amounts of money all the time. This shows a typical escapist phenomenon which many people have where they feel “Long Long Ago we used to be good” but forget the present conditions in which they are in. There is Murthy’s uncle (Played by the excellent actor Sakshi Ranga Rao) who is distraught with having so many daughters and feel having a daughter in a “minus”. Right to his feelings, his daughter becomes a widow at a very young age and asks Murthy for help to get her admitted in some college.

Oh yes, I did not mention that Murthy gives an impression in his village that he is doing a very prestigious job (According to them!) and make his family happy. The intention of Murthy in doing so is clearly explained in the coming scenes for the audience!

Very soon, Murthy’s uncle comes off to Hyderabad in order to meet him and eventually knows that Murthy is working as a waiter in the Hotel. Murthy replies to a distraught uncle in such an amazing manner this way:

“Udyoganiki viluva manishini batti vasthundhi babai..manaku collector entha avasaramo kammari kummari kooda anthe avasaram.Nenu kashtapadi sampadhinchukuntunnanu naluguri chetha manchi anipinchukuntunnanu. Nenu siggu padanantha kalam evaremanukunna naake baadha ledhu.”

A job gets its value based on the person who does it..We need a collector as well as a Potter or a mechanic. I am working hard and getting good name from others. As long as I am not ashamed I don’t have any worry about this.

Babai: Neekemundadhu raa..nee meedha enni aasalu pettukundhi mee baamma?Nuvvila platelu saucerlu pattukuni tiruguthunte petregipothundhi

Why would you worry? Your grandmother has so many hopes on you! If she knows that you are carrying these plates and saucers she will be distraught!

Murthy: Andhuke cheppaledhu..manaki taagadaniki neellu kooda lenappudu maa thatha nethulu taagadu ani goppalu cheppukunte ippati daaham teeruthundha babai?nizam cheppi aavidani badha pettekante abaddham tho santhosha pedithe manchidanukunnanu, peddha udyogam ani namminchanu.

That’s why I did not tell her. When we don’t even have water to drink we say our grandfathers had ghee to drink in pride. Will that quench the present thirst we have? I didn’t want to upset her by telling the truth hence I made her believe I am doing a great job and succeeded in doing so.

While Murthy says this his uncle cuts it off saying its time for him to leave now. Murthy realizes that by knowing he is a waiter his uncle underestimated him and his abilities. Murthy strongly tell his uncle that he can make uncle’s daughter study admirably.

This scene makes us realize the nature of people (relatives or few people who claim to be friends) change their nature immediately knowing when they cannot get the work done with us!!

I am posting the scene here for the tremendous acting and dialogue delivery of Chiranjeevi as well as how beautifully this scene was crafted!

Coming to the female protagonist of Subhalekha, it is time to know about Sujatha- a tutor in Accounts and Commerce in a college. She studies M.A in Economics and a highly educated lady with high values in life.  She happens to meet our hero Murthy in a bank and comes to know he is famous due to the dance he did in Allwyn ad and gives surety for his bank account. At that instant she doesn’t know that Murthy works as a waiter in a Hotel. The next interaction which she has with Murthy is in the hotel’s restaurant when she lands in trouble due to her repaired sandals and the latter comes to know about the same. This one scene is enough for the audience to know how caring/supportive Murthy is towards people- it is not only somebody he knows but also people whom he has no friendship with!

Murthy offers her sweet and snacks in return to the favour she did in Bank for him leading to the surprise of  Sujatha. She feels amazed at his dignity in doing work and also looks at him in admiration. One of the best attributes of Murthy is he doesn’t take his work as some burden or some force but does it with an excellent grace and joy! I personally feel we all have lot of things to be learnt from Murthy with regards to work- especially enjoying it with the heart’s total satisfaction- no matter how simple, small or disapproving it might look in the first impression!

Here is the brilliant scene where Murthy and Sujatha meet again and have a sweet little conversation!

The best and most important turning point scenes are yet to come in the part 2 of this post!

I would like to end this Part 1 saying Individuality is something which is too valuable, important and vital to be sacrificed for anybody or anything- Thanks to characters like Murthy we even come to know that Work has to be done with Love, but not with force!


4 thoughts on “Subhalekha- A tribute to Individuality and Self-Respect- Part 1:

    1. Need not call me in such a respectful tone 🙂 A Superb blog. Am in the process of finishing reading all your posts. In fact the other day when TV9 telecast a special show on Nalugusthambala aata, I was thinking of your blog 🙂 Keep the good work going and write more please

  1. I wish this film was available with subtitles! Thanks for trasnlating some of the dialogue – I knew I was missing so much by not understanding. It’s a wonderful film. and I enjoyed reading your thoughts and description of the story 🙂

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