Daana Veera Soora Karna

Daana Veera Soora Karna (transl. Generous, Heroic, Valiant Karna) is a 1977 Telugu Hindu mythological film co-written, produced and directed by N. T. Rama Rao under his banner, Ramakrishna Cine Studios. Based on the life of Karna from the Mahabharata, it stars Rama Rao in three roles: the title character, Duryodhana, and Krishna. It also stars Rao's sons Nandamuri Harikrishna and Nandamuri Balakrishna, who play the roles of Arjuna and Abhimanyu, respectively. Music for the film was composed by Pendyala Nageswara Rao.

Daana Veera Soora Karna
Daana Veera Soora Karna.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byN. T. Rama Rao
Produced byN. T. Rama Rao
Written byN. T. Rama Rao
Kondaveeti Venkatakavi (dialogues)
StarringN. T. Rama Rao
Nandamuri Balakrishna
Nandamuri Harikrishna
B. Saroja Devi
Music byPendyala Nageswara Rao
Edited byG. D. Joshi
Distributed byMayuri
Release date
  • 14 January 1977 (1977-01-14)
Running time
226 minutes
Budget10 lakh[1]
Box officeest. 1.5–2 crore[1][2]

Made on a budget of 10 lakhs (one million Indian rupees), the film was a commercial success and became the highest-grossing Telugu film at the time, grossing 1.5–2 crore (15–20 million rupees).[1][2] It is regarded as one of the greatest films of Telugu cinema.[not verified in body]


A baby is rescued from the Ganga river by charioteer Adhiratha, who adopts the boy and names him Karna. Years later, Karna witnesses the scene of Dronacharya taking off Ekalavya's thumb so that Arjuna could surpass him as an archer. At this injustice, Karna swears a rivalry against Arjuna.

Karna studies under Parasurama to become an expert archer. One day, Karna is bitten by Indra in the form of an insect and bears the pain so as not to disurb a sleeping Parasurama. When Parasurama awakens and sees the blood, he believes Karna to be of the kshatriya caste and curses him, as his efforts at teaching him would have been wasted. Parasurama later recognizes Karna as Sutaputra,[further explanation needed] but cannot take back his curse.

While travelling, Karna tries to save a Brahim's cow from Indra in the form of a lion; he fails, and the Brahim curses Karna to die in a helpless situation. Later, moved by a young girl's tears, Karna squeezes spilled ghee (butter) from the soil and is cursed by Bhudevi to be dishonoured by crushing his chariot wheel into her in his last stage of life.

Arjuna is being praised by Dronacharya for winning an archery tournament at the fort of Hastinapuram, when Karna arrives to challenge him but is insulted due to his low birth. Duryodhana saves his pride by making him king of Anga, and Karna dedicates his life to Duryodhana and they become soulmates. Duryodhana is invited to join Dharmaraja, who suffers a series of misfortunes at the hands of Shakuni and is forced into years of exile. Lord Krishna attempts to negotiate, and reveals Karna's birth secret. Out of loyalty, Karna remains with Duryodhana, while tensions escalate toward the Kurukshetra War with the Pandavas.

Chief military commander Bhishma insults Karna by recognizing him as Ardharatha,[further explanation needed] and Karna swears not to enter the battlefield before Bhishma. Bhishma collapses as the war begins, and makes contrition to Karna on an arrow bed. Karna takes Bhishma's blessing and enters the battlefield. To protect the Pandava's honour, Abhimanyu enters the battlefield and single-handedly defeats most of the army; to stop him, Karna is ordered to destroy his bow, after which Abhimanyu is overwhelmed and killed. That night, Karna weeps at his fallen foe's body and swears the reality is that he was the one who died while Abhimanyu lives on as an immortal.

The next morning, Krishna sends Kunti to request Karna join the Pandavas or swear not to kill them. Karna blames Kunti, the mother who abandoned him, for the destruction, but swears not to kill anyone except Arjuna, on the condition that Kunti have five sons if either he or Arjuna dies. The next day on the battlefield, Karna tries to kill Arjuna, who is protected by Lord Krishna. Krishna sends Indra in the form of a Brahim to trick Karna into giving up the divine breastplate which protects him. Karna does so, even knowing the truth, and Indra gifts him a powerful weapon which can only be used once. While wishing to use it against Arjuna, Karna is forced to use it when the camp is attacked at night.

The next day, an uncle of the Pandavas is appointed as Karna's charioteer, and demoralizes him on Krishna's instructions. The accumulated curses work together and Karna collapses. Krishna explains Karna's glory to Arjuna, then appears to Karna as a Brahim begging for alms. Karna breaks out his golden tooth as a donation. Kunti arrives and declares Karna's birth secret, angering Dharmaraja who curses the women against keeping secrets.

Karna dies in Kunti's lap and his soul enters the Sun God. Duryodhana attempts to abandon the war to grieve but is forced back. He chooses his opponent to settle the war, but Krishna reveals Duryodhana's weak point which is struck in a dishonourable manner. As he dies, Duryodhana questions Krishna's piety. Duryodhana and Karna are then shown meeting in heaven, displaying an immortal friendship.


Chalapathi Rao performed four roles and also appears in two other costumes as disguises of Indra, while Jaya Bhaskar did a dual role.

Writing and developmentEdit

Kondaveeti Venkatakavi, principal of a Sanskrit college, wrote the script and dialogue for the film, though he had had initial doubts as an atheist.

Notable[according to whom?] is the "positive spin"[This quote needs a citation] that the dialogues give to Duryodhana's character without changing the original story, particularly in scenes where he projects himself as the good guy and Pandavas and Krishna as crooked minds. While most mythological and folkloric movies since the 1950s were in colloquial language, this movie from the 1970s used graanthika bhaasha[clarification needed].

Many Telugu films were based on the Mahabharata. One aspect which distinguishes this film is the characterization of Duryodhana. While making the Sree Krishna Pandaveeyam[clarification needed] itself, Rama Rao projected Duryodhana as "Suyodhana"[clarification needed] with a positive touch to the role. In this film, he projected Duryodhana as a well-educated person who knew dharma and other things much better than anyone. Some people[according to whom?] even say that the title of the movie could actually have been Maanadhana Veera Suyodhana[clarification needed] — such is the importance and characterization of Suyodhana.[further explanation needed]


Filmmaker N. T. Rama Rao was preparing to shoot Chanakya Chandragupta when he learned that Kamalakara Kameswara Rao was planning the film Kurukshetram, with a similar story to Daana Veera Soora Karna. Rama Rao then set aside Chanakya Chandragupta and used many of the cast and crew from that project to quickly begin production on Daana Veera Soora Karna, determined to release the film to theatres before his rival.

The film was completed in 43 working days, despite the time needed to apply and remove makeup for the different characters played by Rama Rao and the four-hour length of the epic. He never saw the rushes before the release; thus they edited the film within days. Kannappa, who earlier worked on Rama Rao's Manushulanta Okkate, returned for this film.[further explanation needed] Wire work is noticeable in a couple of scenes. Mayasabha's[who?] work was not completed by the time of the shooting. Rama Rao took close-ups while the paintings were done and long shots once it was completed,[further explanation needed] Harikrishna and Balakrishna also painted the sets along with the art department.

It is claimed[by whom?] to be one of the lengthiest films in the Indian film industry, with a running time of 4 fours 17 minutes. Rama Rao can be seen on the screen for nearly four hours. (Though Raj Kapoor's magnum opus Mera Naam Joker runs for 4 hrs 24 minutes, this film was later trimmed by forty minutes.)

This was the first film shot in Ramakrishna Cine Studios in Hyderabad. It is the third film made under the Ramakrishna Cine Studios banner.


Daana Veera Soora Karna
Soundtrack album by
LabelEMI Columbia Audio
ProducerPendyala Nageswara Rao

The music was composed by Pendyala Nageswara Rao and released on EMI Columbia Audio.[citation needed]

No. Song Title Lyrics Singers length
1 "Ye Thalli Ninu Kannadho" C. Narayana Reddy P. Susheela 3:05
2 "Jayeebhava Vijayeebhava" S. P. Balu, G. Anand 3:21
3 "Chithram Bhalaare Vichitram" S. P. Balu, P. Susheela 3:23
4 "Telisenule Priyaa Rasikaa" S. Janaki, P. Susheela 4:32
5 "Raara Itu Raara" S. Janaki 3:23
6 "Anna Devudu Ledhana" S. Janaki 3:13
7 "Idhira Dhora Madhiraa" S. Janaki 3:58
8 "Yela Santhaapammu" V. Ramakrishna 4:03
9 "Kalagantino Swamy" Dasaradhi Madhavapeddi Ramesh, P. Susheela 3:57

Saluri Rajeswara Rao was initially the music director for the film, and set the songs "Ye Thalli Ninu Kannadho" and the verses were to music. The rest of the soundtrack was completed by Pendyala Nageshwara Rao. However, the title card shows only Pendyala's name.

The film has ten songs and 35 verses. Most of the verses are taken from Paandavodyoga Vijayam and Sree Krishna Raayabaram by the poet duo Tirupati Venkata Kavulu. Pundareekakshayya[who?] secured the rights to use the verses when working on the film Sreekrishnaavataaram. They were sought for the competing film Kuruskshetram but Pundareekakshayya instead gave the rights to Rama Rao.

S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and Peesapati Raghuramayya sang initial versions of the Raayabaram verses, which were re-recorded by V. Ramakrishna.[relevant?]

Padmalaya Studios secured the rights of Ghantasala's Bhagavadgeeta audio after his death and used those verses in Kurukshetram,[relevant?] while DVS Karna used "prosaic"[further explanation needed] Bhagavadgeeta for the most part.

The dialogues of the film also became very popular,[according to whom?] and were released as LP and audio cassettes by HMV.


The film was approved by censors on 12 January 1977 and released on 14 January. Gemini film labs was unable to print all 30 orders of the film in the time available, so its premiered was limited to 14 cinemas on the day of its release.[citation needed] The film ran for 100 days in 9 cinemas[3] and 250 days at the Hyderabad Shanti Theatre.[4]

With a budget of less than 10 lakhs (one million Indian rupees), the film earned more than ₹1 crore (ten million rupees) in its first run. It was sold for 60 lakhs (6 million rupees) for a 1994 re-release, with 30 prints earning more than ₹1 crore.

It was the second Telugu film after Lava Kusa to gross ₹1 crore (ten million rupees) and the first Telugu film to collect ₹2 crores (with an average ticket price being ₹1 in 1977).[4]

In the first twenty years after its release, the film sold the highest number of tickets, beating all the new releases for the year in 13 different years.[citation needed][dubious ]

The film was released on VCDs and DVDs by Universal Videos, SHALIMAR Video Company, Hyderabad.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c K., Janani (11 April 2020). "Quarantine Curation: 20 classic South Indian films that deserve a watch during lockdown". India Today. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  2. ^ a b Tanmayi, Bhawana (8 July 2017). "Highlighting the goodness of Karna, Suyodhana". Telangana Today. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  3. ^ Nonstopcinema Box Office – Balayya 100 days films list: Telugu movies, Tollywood, cinema
  4. ^ a b CineGoer.com – Box-Office Records And Collections – Silver Jubilee Films Of NTR Archived 16 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit