Sakshi (1967 film)
Sakshi (transl. Witness) is a 1967 Telugu-language Indian drama film written by Mullapudi Venkata Ramana and directed by Bapu. The film features an ensemble cast including Krishna, Jagga Rao, Ramana Panthulu, R. Ranga Rao, Raja Babu, Vijaya Nirmala, Allu Venkateswarlu and Chalapathi Rao. It is based on Ramana's 1959 story of the same name which itself was inspired by the 1952 American film High Noon. In Sakshi, a naive and bucolic boatman is exploited by society and turns into a hard-hearted person.
|Produced by||Suresh Kumar|
|Story by||Mullapudi Venkata Ramana|
|Music by||K. V. Mahadevan|
|Cinematography||P. N. Selvaraj|
Sakshi, the directorial debut of Bapu (who also worked as art director), was the first Telugu film to be shot completely in outdoor locations, with filming taking place in Pulidindi, a village located on the banks of the Godavari River. It was the acting debut of Ranga Rao, who later prefixed the film's title to his name. The entire film was completed in less than 20 days.
Sakshi was released on 1 July 1967. Although many people in the Telugu film industry believed the film would not run for even 20 days in theatres, it ran for almost a month and became a profitable venture, besides receiving critical acclaim. It was later screened at the Tashkent film festival in 1968, where it was also well received.
Kishtaiah is a naive and bucolic boatman living in Dachampaadu, an islet in the Godavari belt. In the same area lives Fakir, a dreaded criminal. The village head, known by his title Munasabu, hires Fakir as his lorry driver to transport coconuts to the town. The only person Fakir cares for in the village is his sister Chukka. He abandons Ratthi, a woman who was madly in love with him. Kishtaiah's uncle Gourayya and his fellow guard are murdered by Fakir when trying to stop him from stealing coconuts from Munasabu's garden. As Kishtaiah is the sole witness to these murders, the village elders force him to testify against Fakir in court.
Fakir is arrested, but vows revenge. He escapes from prison, and no villager gives Kishtaiah shelter. Chukka marries Kishtaiah, in the hope that her brother would not kill him. Fakir is unaware of this and attacks Kishtaiah, who eventually abandons his naive persona and kills Fakir. All the villagers who earlier shunned Kishtaiah now surround him, but Kishtaiah, disgusted with their selfish behaviour, leaves the village and surrenders to the police.
Sakshi was a story written by Mullapudi Venkata Ramana and published in the 28 October 1959 issue of Andhra Patrika, a weekly newspaper. The story was inspired by the American film High Noon (1952), retaining the plot element of a man sending a dreaded criminal to prison, and the criminal vowing revenge. For his directorial debut, Ramana's friend Bapu decided to adapt Sakshi. The film adaptation was produced by Suresh Kumar and Seshagiri Rao under Nandana Films. P. N. Selvaraj was chosen as the cinematographer at Bapu's suggestion. Bapu also worked as art director alongside Bhavaraju Seetharamudu, an engineer who helped the unit by laying new roads. Ramana wrote the film's dialogue, with most of it being in Rajahmundry dialect. Satyam handled the editing.
Krishna was cast as the male lead Kishtaiah, Jagga Rao as the antagonist Fakir and Ramana Panthulu as Munasabu. R. Ranga Rao was cast as Karanam in his acting debut, and later became known as Sakshi Ranga Rao. Raja Babu was cast as Munasabu's son. Krishna's future wife Vijaya Nirmala was cast as the female lead Chukka, and this was the first film where they acted together. Vijaya Lalitha was cast as Fakir's initial love interest Ratthi, Allu Ramalingaiah's son Venkateswarlu as Munasabu's grandson Gopi, and Chalapathi Rao as Kishtaiah's uncle Gourayya.
Before the commencement of principal photography, Bapu took lessons on how to deal with close-up, mid-close-up and long shots from Kabir Das. Sakshi became the first Telugu film to be shot completely in outdoor locations. Pulidindi, a village located on the banks of the Godavari River, was chosen as the shooting location. According to Nirmala, after each day's shoot ended, Bapu "used to draw lines of his next day's shooting. He always drew his thoughts on paper so that everyone was comfortable when the shooting started." The scene depicting Kishtaiah and Chukka's marriage was shot at the Meesala Krishnudu temple of Pulidindi. The entire film was completed in less than 20 days.
The Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema calls Sakshi "a rare instance of late 60s New Indian Cinema aestheticism in Telugu". According to The Hindu's Srivathsan Nadadhur, "The film not only lays importance on the crime angle, but also emphasises the need for humans to stand up for each other in times of crisis."
|1.||"Atu Yennela Itu Yennela"||Aarudhra||P. Susheela||4:11|
|2.||"Dayaledha Neeku Dayaledha"||Aarudhra||P. Susheela, P. B. Sreenivas||8:08|
|3.||"Silipoda Sinnoda Cheera Dochukunnoda"||Daasarathi Krishnamacharyulu||P. Susheela, Ghantasala||3:47|
|4.||"Amma Kadupu Challaga Atha Kadupu Challaga"||Aarudhra||P. Susheela||4:19|
|5.||"Padhi Mandhi Kosam Nilabadda Neeku"||Aarudhra||Mohan Raju||5:28|
Release and receptionEdit
Sakshi was released on 1 July 1967. It was publicised via posters with the tagline "20 rojullo teesina chitram" (the film which was shot in less than 20 days), and rival producer Aluri Chakrapani caustically commented, "20 rojullo teeste 20 rojule aaduddi" (the film will only run 20 days), a view shared by many others in the Telugu film industry. Despite this, the film received critical acclaim and ran for nearly a month, recovering its investment and making a marginal profit. It was later screened at the Tashkent film festival in 1968, where it was also well received.
- Rajadhyaksha & Willemen 1998, p. 393.
- Narasimham, M. L. (9 November 2018). "Sakshi (1967)". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 4 March 2019. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
- Nadadhur, Srivathsan (29 June 2017). "Bapu-Ramana's Sakshi turns 50". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 4 March 2019. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
- "Sakshi". Indiancine.ma. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
- Rajadhyaksha & Willemen 1998, p. 128.
- Parankusam, Aditya (2 July 2017). "50 glorious years of Sakshi". The Hans India. Archived from the original on 4 March 2019. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
- "The Bapu who took Tollywood places dies at age 80". Deccan Chronicle. 1 September 2014. Archived from the original on 18 February 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
- Rajadhyaksha & Willemen 1998, p. 55.
- Sakshi (songbook) (in Telugu). Nandana Films. 1967.
- "Saakshi". JioSaavn. Archived from the original on 5 March 2019. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
- Prasada Sarma, G. V. (5 March 2011). "Mullapudi leaves behind enduring legacy". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 4 March 2019. Retrieved 3 March 2019.