A Review of 'Sampoorna Ramayanam'

The Nationalist Poet, Subramanya Bharathi had called ‘Telugu’ a sweet language. The Moviegoers and the devout who had watched the movie 'Sampoorna Ramayanam' in Telugu would have seconded him. The movie was released in 1971 and we are in the golden jubilee year of its launch. Accolades to the Director, Bapu and Durga Cinetone, (Nidamarthi Padmakshi) who presented this long (3 hours and 10 minutes) and enjoyable movie. Sobhan Babu enacted as Rama and Chandrakala played Sita in this mega starrer. Chittor V. Nagiah as ‘Vasishta’, Gummadi as ‘Dasaratha’, S. V. Ranga Rao as ‘Ravana’, Sathyanarayana as ‘Meghanada’, Pandari Bai as ‘Shabari’, Jamuna as ‘Kaikeyi’, Chandramohan as ‘Bharata’ and Nagaraju as ‘Lakshmana’ had played their roles very well. 

The Music Director, K. V. Mahadevan and the singers had done their best. The story was by Valmiki. Mullapadi Venkata Ramana and Arudra had given the dialogues for this lovely film. A. K. Sekhar and Vaali needed to be appreciated for their work as Art Directors. Chitti Babu had played the veena in this movie, which ran for more than 100 days in a number of theatres. Pasumarti Venugopala Krishna Sarma and Vempati Chinna Satyam had done their job exceedingly well, for the dance sequences were much appreciated. P. Susheela, Jikki, Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao, P. B. Srinivas, Leela and others had rendered the hit songs. 

The fabulous movie was based on the Ramayana of Valmiki. Each one of the actors had done their best. Gummadi had done very well as ‘Dasaratha’. The song, ‘Shiva Tandava Stotram’ by Ravana is perhaps found only in this movie. All the songs are fabulous. The song 'Rama Laali Megha Syama Laali' by P.Susheela was enacted by Jamuna. She had done a marvelous job. The young Rama and his brothers found in the hands of the three Queens of Dasaratha were a sight to see. The line, “Endhaku A Chandmama…” with Rama trying to catch the moon was lovely. Kausaluya, Kaikeyi and Sumithra with Dasaratha in attendance showed us the importance of women in the society.  The birth of Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrugna gave enormous joy to the people of Ayodhya. Dasaratha and his Queens savoured the joy beautifully. The director had brought it out well. S. V. Ranga Rao as ‘Ravana’ is introduced through the song “Evadu Ninnu Minchu Vaadu”. The gestures of Ranga Rao took us back to the days of Ramayana. “Adigo Ramayya” is another good song. 

Dasaratha made a promise to Kaikeyi and she extracted it from him at the time of the Yuvaraja Pattabishekham. Poor Dasaratha was therefore separated from Rama at a time when his other sons were also away from him. He was reminded of the story of the pious Shravana Kumara and the curse. The affection of the father and the democratic choice made by the people with regard to declaring Rama as the heir apparent spoke volumes about the right choices made by our countrymen during the yonder era. 

Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao had rendered the song, “Ramaiya Tandri O Ramaiya Tandri” marvelously. Rama and Sita cross the river Sarayu on the boat of Guha. The line, “Naa Nomulanni Pandinayi” meaning – “I had received the benefits of my vratas” in this song tells us about abstinence and deep devotion. The boat rocked when 'Ailesa' is sung fast. A concerned Rama looked at Guha and boat was made to move smoothly. The ‘Shiva Tandava Stotram’ was much appreciated. We could understand every emotion and purpose behind this epic through the songs. 

Kudos to the director who had amusingly brought out the essence of the Ramayana. The movie was produced in colour and it was done at a time when black and white was kind of the order of the day. Pandari Bai as ‘Shabari’ would be remembered. The colours, the sets and the editing made the movie even more watchable. ‘Sampoorna Ramayanam’ in Telugu with the songs made it more of a musical. The song in Kishkinda showed the careless Sugreeva enjoying life. Finally, it was left to Lakshmana who reminded the Vaanaraas of their promise. 

Handsome Sobhan Babu and pretty Chandrakala had done well in the movie. The role of Soorpanaka and the racy song, “Choosindi ninnu Choosindi” showed the viewers the mood of one who is submerged in pleasures. All the fights, stunts and trick shots in the movie had received praises at the time of the release. Choice of costumes and colour schemes made one feel as though the team had mastered the 'Colour theory'. 

The story of Maryada Purushottamma Rama has been casted numerous times. Movies, plays, and serials, with several versions have ruled the roost. Dance dramas connected with Ramanayana have done well in countries like Thailand. Every country has its own version of the Ramayana. Writer Anand Raghav has done a book on the many versions of the Ramayana in the far-east. However, this movie stands out. 

Sampoorna Ramayanam in Telugu starring Sobhan Babu and Chandrakala is among the best. A must watch and let us celebrate the golden year of its release by watching it now. 

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