Padamati Sandhya Ragam

Padamati Sandhya Ragam[a] (Telugu: Paḍamaṭi Sandhyārāgaṁ; transl. Evening Raga of the West[b]) is a 1987 Telugu-language romantic comedy film directed and written by Jandhyala. It stars Thomas Jane and Vijayashanti as Chris, a white American man and Sandhya, a young Indian woman respectively who fall in love after her family immigrates to America. Indian drummer Sivamani plays a major role as Ronald, a black American drummer who also falls in love with her.

Padamati Sandhya Ragam
Padamati Sandhya Ragam.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJandhyala
Written byJandhyala
Produced byGummaluri Sastry
Meer Abdulla
G. Subba Rao
Kasaraneni ShantiKumar
Thomas Jane
Edited byGautham Raju
Music byS. P. Balasubrahmanyam
Pravasandhra Chitra
Release date
  • 11 April 1987 (1987-April-11)
Running time
142 minutes
United States

The producers, Americans Gummaluri Sastry and Meer Abdulla, started developing the film after meeting Indian filmmaker Jandhyala and musician S. P. Balasubrahmanyam. It was designed as an American-Indian co-production, with residents of both countries represented in the cast and crew. The soundtrack was written by Balasubrahmanyam, Sadasiva Brahmendra, Annamacharya, and Veturi. Despite its low budget, shooting took place across the United States and some scenes were shot in India as well.

Padamati Sandhya Ragam was well received by audiences in India and won the Filmfare Award for Best Film – Telugu in 1987 as well as Jandhyala the Nandi Award for Best Story Writer the same year. It has since gained some retrospective attention for its representation of the Indian diaspora.


Sandhya arrives in India with her husband Chris to visit their family after her father's death. They are received coldly at the airport by his granddaughter Anitha, who escorts them to her father's home. As he had no sons, the family are afraid that Chris, who is white, won't be able to conduct the traditional last rites as the deceased's closest male relative, but he insists on taking the responsibility and cremates his father-in-law's body as the sun sets. After coming back that night, he tries to talk to Anitha but she scolds him instead, blaming him for disrupting her grandfather's peace. Sandhya intervenes by slapping her and reveals that Anitha is actually their daughter who was taken away by her grandfather when she was five years old. Sandhya then narrates what happened beforehand.

20 years earlier, Sandhya arrives with her family in the United States after her father is given a job by his younger brother there. Sandhya's father Adinarayana, a staunch traditionalist, is confused by American culture and sticks to his traditions despite Ramarao's attempts to make him assimilate and everyone else's bemusement. They also meet Seshagiri Rao, an ice cream shop owner who is also Indian, and his son Ganapathi, a big eater. One day, Ganapathi takes Sandhya to the supermarket but abandons her after hearing of a new ice cream shop, causing her to panic. After nearly getting run over by his car, she meets Chris. Because of the language barrier, he decides to take her an Indian family he knows and they end up arriving as Seshagiri Rao's house, where they learn they are neighbours. Later, she meets her other neighbour Ronald, a black drummer. They both get closer to her, to Adinarayana's disapproval. As they fall in love with Sandhya, they get Ganapathi to teach them Telugu, but humorously mangle the language on their first attempts. Both of them quickly improve and end up proposing to her on the same day. After thinking about it, she comes outside the next day with a white sari, signalling her acceptance of Chris to his celebration and Ronald's frustration. Adinarayana tries to arrange her marriage with an Indian doctor named Ravi. Ravi is progressive, however, and encourages her to continue pursuing Chris. Later, Chris and Sandhya secretly meet up and he proposes they elope, to which Sandhya reluctantly agrees. Adinarayana learns about their love and tries to catch them with Ronald's help, so they run away in a motorcycle and then steal an RV when that stops working. After losing them, the couple realise they have no money and manage to satiate their hunger with some milk found in the RV's fridge. Escaping a close call with the police the next working, they luckily find other Indians who let them stay in their house. Adinarayana consents to their marriage, but the couple get into an argument on whose customs to follow. After Ronald spots them and tells Ramarao, he goes to them and ends up resolving the matter by suggesting holding two ceremonies – one at a church and another at a temple. Thus, Chris and Sandhya finally get married.

In the present, Sandhya gives a message on how all humans are equal, proceeded by Chris talking about his appreciation of Indian culture. They then offer Anitha the opportunity to go to America and live with them. As Chris and Sandhya leave for the airport the day after, Anitha wistfully sits in her room with the door closed. Right before they get on the plane, she shows up, asks Chris to forgive her, and joins them on the flight.


  • Vijayashanti as Sandhya
  • Thomas Jane as Chris (credited as Tom)
  • Sivamani as Ronald
  • Gummuluri Sastry as Adinarayana
  • Meer Abdulla as Ramarao
  • Seshagiri Rao as Seshagiri Rao
  • Vijay as Ganapathi
  • Ashajyothy as Sudha
  • Sudheshna Reddy as Anitha
  • Sutti Velu as Natanalayam Manager
  • Sudha as Lakshmi
  • Ravi Chitturi as Ravi

Additional cast: Johnson, Godman, Elizabeth, Bindu, Jyothy, Baby Rohini, Vijay Kothari, Bhushan Rao, Rama Sastry, Seetha Sastry, Mrunalini, Joshua York. M.Bala Muralikrishna[1]


My acting coach, Ralph Tabakin, called me up and said, "There's these Indians in town, and they’re looking for a blond-haired, blue-eyed kid to be in their Indian Bollywood movie." And I said, "Ralph, I don't have blue eyes. I can't go." Ralph said, "Well, you got blue eyes now. You go down there and get the part. And I get 10 percent, ’cause I’m acting as your agent in this regard." And I did, and I did. And he did. [Laughs.]

Thomas Jane, 2011[2]

Meer Abdulla, then an international student from India who already aspired to be a filmmaker, started working in the performing arts after meeting Gummuluri Sastry, an engineer already living in the United States, as an amateur stage actor in the plays he directed.[3][1] As the leader of a Telugu association, Sastry had the opportunity to invite the crew of the Indian film Sankarabharanam to tour the United States in 1984. This ended up giving Sastry and Abdulla the chance to meet Jandhyala and S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, leading to the ideas of the film being conceived and developed. After a variety of other names were suggested for the film, Balasubrahmanyam's received approved by everyone and became the final title, with Jandhyala even giving Balasubrahmanyam US$116 to show his gratitude.[1] Balasubrahmanyam also proposed that Sivamani play Ronald. Finding an actor for Chris was a different matter entirely. Instead of using an established actor, a long campaign involving multiple talent agents was initiated. However, the initial actor chosen dropped out under uncertain circumstances, with Abdulla claiming that he had left after getting a last-minute offer from Hollywood in 2006 but then stating that he did not know the reason in 2010.[1][4] Thomas Jane, at the time a teenage acting student in Maryland, was the final choice for the role, which was his film debut. Because the production ran out of money, he was paid with an RV used to make the film.[2] Shooting for Padamati Sandhya Ragam commenced on 3 August 1986.[1] The American portion was filmed first, with most of the scenes being shot in the residences and shops of Sastry and Abdulla's friends and neighbours in the Washington metropolitan area.[3] The other segments were shot all across the country.[1] Filming lasted two months.[3]

Reception and analysisEdit

The Washington Post stated the film "attracted rave reviews in India" in a 1989 article.[3] In retrospect, it has been identified as one of a number of films made by the Telugu diaspora in America in the 1980s that explored life in the country.[5][6] Jahnavi Reddy of The News Minute analysed Padamati Sandhya Ragam as being a precursor to Indian films about international romance that have been released after the country's liberalisation and mass migration to the United States began. She also stated that the casting of Sivamani, an Indian musician, as the black American character Ronald in the film was "problematic" and discussed how he was mostly played off as comic relief compared to Chris, pondering if he would have been accepted by Sandhya's family if she fell in love with him instead.[7]


One song from the film, "Life is Shabby", gained renewed attention in the late 2010s due to its odd English lyrics and use of rap, which is significantly different from S. P. Balasubrahmanyam's usual style.[8][9]

1."Ee Toorupu Aa Paschimam"VeturiS. P. Balasubrahmanyam and S. Janaki 
2."Life is Shabby Without You Baby"S. P. BalasubrahmanyamS. P. Balasubrahmanyam 
3."Muddugare Yashoda"AnnamacharyaS. Janaki 
4."Pibare Rama Rasam"Sadasiva BrahmendraS. P. Balasubrahmanyam and S. P. Sailaja 



  1. ^ Also romanised as Padamati Sandhyaa Raagam or Padamati Sandhyaragam.
  2. ^ Certain words of the title are ambiguous; Sandhya can refer to either the film's character or twilight, while ragam can either mean colourful or the musical concept. More specifically, the title is also a phrase that literally means "the color of the setting sun in the west" that is used poetically to refer to the golden hour before dusk. However, Evening Raga of the West is the most commonly used translation.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Sri (16 August 2005). "PSR – Retrospect". Maro Sandhya Ragam. Archived from the original on 15 December 2007.
  2. ^ a b Harris, Will (30 September 2011). "Thomas Jane". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on 27 November 2020. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d Khan, Aziza (21 September 1989). "Novice filmmakers send scenes of D.C. to India". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on 2 March 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  4. ^ Fernandes, Sharon (19 January 2010). "From Telugu film debut to Globe list". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 31 January 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  5. ^ Rani, D. Sudha (2018). "Image of America in Telugu Cinema: A Study of the Cultural Implications" (PDF). Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities. 10 (1). doi:10.21659/rupkatha.v10n1.12. ISSN 0975-2935. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 September 2020. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  6. ^ Nathan, Archana (8 June 2017). "If the H-1B battle goes bad, Telugu movies like Baahubali may never make it in the US". Quartz India. Archived from the original on 26 October 2020. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  7. ^ "'America Abbayi, Andhra Ammayi': How NRI men find love in Telugu cinema". The News Minute. 29 September 2020. Archived from the original on 18 October 2020. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  8. ^ "Watch: When drummer Sivamani played an African American and wooed Vijayashanti". The News Minute. 1 June 2018. Archived from the original on 9 January 2021. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  9. ^ "'ప‌డ‌మ‌టి సంధ్యారాగం' కోసం బాలు రాసిన ఇంగ్లీష్ పాట‌" [An English song written by Balu for ‘Padamati Sandhyaragam’]. Andhra Jyothi. Archived from the original on 27 September 2020. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  10. ^ "నంది అవార్డు విజేతల పరంపర (1964–2008)" [A series of Nandi Award Winners (1964–2008)] (PDF) (in Telugu). Information & Public Relations of Andhra Pradesh. 13 March 2010. p. 28. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  11. ^ "35th Annual Filmfare Awards | Regional Films". Filmfare. 1988. Archived from the original on 5 February 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2019.

External linksEdit