Maya Bazaar (1957)

When I did a post on food songs as part of Food and Food Movie Month on Dustedoff last year, blog reader magi posted a link to a very interesting song Vivaaha bhojanambu and told me about the film it was from. Maya Bazaar, which several others also praised as being a very entertaining mythological.

What I did not realize then was that Maya Bazaar (which was made in both Telugu and Tamil) had much more going for it. An adaptation of the Mahabharat-linked Andhra folk tale Sasirekha Parinayam, this was produced by Vijay Vauhini Studios (whose earlier production, the entertaining Pathala Bhairavi, had also been a big hit). Directed by KV Reddy and with a score (twelve songs) composed by Ghantasala, the film also made very good use of the talents of cinematographer Marcus Bartley, who won accolades for the special effects of the film, many of which stand the test of time pretty well. This was also the first Telugu film to be digitally remastered and colourized, with the redone version being released in 2010.

But, on to the story itself. I’m not going to do a scene-by-scene synopsis of the film here, as I usually do, because I think in this case at least a basic gist should suffice. Note that the version I watched is the Telugu one; the Tamil version had, for some characters, a different cast.

We are introduced to Sasirekha, the very pretty young daughter of Balarama (Gummadi Venkateswara Rao) and Revathi (Chhaya Devi). It is Sasirekha’s birthday, and for the festivities, several family members have arrived at Balarama’s.

There is Balarama’s brother, Sasirekha’s uncle Krishna (NT Rama Rao) and his wife Rukmini (Sandhya).

And there is Balarama’s sister Subhadra (Rushyendramani) and her son, the young Abhimanyu. In the course of the celebrations, Subhadra asks for Sasirekha’s hand in marriage for Abhimanyu, and Balarama is happy to say yes.

Sasirekha and Abhimanyu are already good friends. Now that she knows she’s going to be Abhimanyu’s wife sometime in the future, Sasirekha is insistent on going along with him and Subhadra to their home, and is extracted from their chariot with much difficulty.

Some years later, Sasirekha (now Savitri) and Abhimanyu (now Akkineni Nageswara Rao) have grown up and are corresponding through what comes across as a variation of a web-cam: he sends this laptop-like appliance to Sasirekha as a gift, and when she opens it, she will see what is most beloved to her. Sasi, of course, sees Abhimanyu, and simpers suitably. He is equally besotted with Sasi.

That same device, in the hands of Sasi’s parents, yield not so very charming results. Revathi, on opening it, sees only mounds of gold and silver and jewellery and rich silks. And Balarama sees his disciple, Duryodhana (Mukkamala). This is whom Balarama loves the most? Yes, of course, he admits. Duryodhana is devoted to his guru and his guru returns that affection.

Meanwhile, though, events—as anybody who is familiar with even the basic story of the Mahabharat knows—are taking place that will impact the lives of many thousands. The evil Kauravas, having discovered that Shakuni Mama (CSR Anjaneyulu) is a dab hand at cheating at dice, bait Yudhishthira—and the rest is history. Though Krishna, through his divine power, is able to save Draupadi’s honour, the Pandavas end up ceding their kingdom to the Kauravas and going off into exile.

Shakuni, too, decides that the best way to keep the Pandavas permanently at bay is to somehow get the Yadavas (i.e, Balarama and his clan) on their side. To do this, they have to use Balarama’s affection for Duryodhana effectively—by proposing Duryodhana’s son, Lakshmana Kumara (Relangi Venkatah Ramaiah) as a match for Sasirekha. Once the two are married, the Pandavas will be honourbound to respect the relationship between Balarama and the Kauravas.

Balarama and Revathi are more than happy. Revathi, especially, has been very worried for her daughter now that the Pandava sun is in the descendant, so this comes as a welcome surprise for her. To be rid of that penniless Abhimanyu and marry Lakshmana Kumara, who will eventually become king… that will be perfect!

Sasi, however, hates the idea. She is depressed and distressed and tries everything from tears to defiance, but to no avail. Her parents are obstinate: she will marry Lakshmana Kumara and no-one else.

The jilted Abhimanyu is as unhappy and indignant as his beloved. His mother Subhadra is hurt and angry: she faces Balarama and Revathi and demands an answer for this nasty behaviour, this nonchalant breaking of a promise. They brush off her protests, and Revathi passes some snide remarks about Subhadra’s staying on at her maternal home (i.e, Balarama’s home) instead of being with her husband Arjuna.

So Subhadra and Abhimanyu decide to leave.

Krishna, who has (to the surprise of several people) been supportive of the Sasi-Lakshmana Kumara match, now shows the first sign—though still very discreet—of something brewing in that sharp mind of his. He quietly tells the charioteer, who’s waiting to drive Subhadra and Abhimanyu away, that he should take them—without telling them—into the realm of the demon Ghatotkacha (SV Ranga Rao).

… with hilarious results. Because Ghatotkacha, cousin to Abhimanyu, is more than happy to help sort out Abhimanyu’s problems. And, with Krishna to give him a few pointers, Ghatotkacha, along with a trio of his magic-working assistant demons, sets  off to weave a ‘maya jaal’, a web of illusions that will entrap Lakshmana Kumara, Duryodhana, Shakuni and the rest.

By Ghatotkacha doing a nifty bit of shape-shifting and donning the persona of Sasi.

I will admit that I approached this film with a bit of trepidation. First of all, I am not much of a fan of mythologicals. Secondly, I have begun to be a little wary when a film is praised to me too highly by people (there was one commenter who called Maya Bazaar the ‘best Indian film’). There have been instances when I’ve watched these much-loved films and found that they fell flat for me, or that they just couldn’t grip my attention (Veerapandiya Kattabomman is a case in point), possibly because of a cultural disconnect?

I am happy to say that Maya Bazaar proved worthy of every accolade heaped on it (okay, perhaps not that title of ‘best Indian film’, because I personally feel that there cannot possibly be one ‘best film’ overall, across languages, genres, etc…). This was entertaining, it was witty, it was a grand spectacle, it was very satisfying.

What I liked about this film:

Pretty much everything, from the acting to the story, from the songs to the special effects, which are pretty advanced for the time. But some elements in particular stand out.

One is the fact that though it’s a mythological, there is very little religion in it (one of the main reasons I get put off by mythologicals is because of the way most of them tend to bash one over the head with religion). Maya Bazaar steers clear of that, and even tones down its connection to the Mahabharat: the Pandavas, for instance, never appear in the film, and even Draupadi is seen only as a distant figure, whom Krishna, through long-distance power, saves from dishonour. The story does assume that you are aware of the relationships between the main characters of the Mahabharat, but even without that grounding, it’s easy to figure out who’s who.

Secondly, the acting, which is excellent. NTR, whom I really liked in Pathala Bhairavi, is superb as Krishna, but I personally think that the people who own the film are the comic actors—Savitri as Ghatotkacha masquerading as Sasirekha (the mannish swagger, the clumsiness, and the way Ghatotkacha occasionally slips up and forgets he’s supposed to be a demure damsel rather than a fierce and gluttonous… oh, brilliant!)

SV Ranga Rao as Ghatotkacha is a delight, and so is Relangi Venkatah Ramaiah as Lakshmana Kumara, especially when he is faced with his bride-to-be.

And, Ghantasala’s songs. While I had to rely on subtitles to understand the lyrics, the music was fabulous. Vivaaha bhojanambu was my favourite, but I also loved Aha naa pelliyanta, and Lahiri lahiri a lot.

What I didn’t like:

Nothing, really. I loved this film.

60 thoughts on “Maya Bazaar (1957)

  1. Glad you liked it. The story per se may be fictional as Mahabharata scripture has no reference to it. What started as a stage drama evolved over a period of time and finally made by Vijaya in Telugu and Tamil. I am a Telugu person and we definitely had an advantage in understanding some very subtle humour which normally gets terribly lost in translation. There were a very few Telugu words which script writer Sri Pingali Nagendrarao coined in this movie. These words are now part of mainstream Telugu Lexicon. There were about 4-5 telugu movies of 1980s which were named after songs from this Movie.

    • Just one more point – You never ask a Telugu person whether they have seen this movie. You only ask How MANY times they have seen this :-)

    • “There were about 4-5 telugu movies of 1980s which were named after songs from this Movie.

      Yes, I gathered as much. Because when I was looking for the songs on Youtube so that I could link to them, I kept arriving on the movies which had the same names as those songs. Some Tamil films, also, I think…? The Tamil version of Vivaaha bhojanambu seems to have had a film – fairly recent, too – named after it?

  2. The movie was dubbed in Kannada and was a huge success.
    Two songs that you point out….. their Kannada version, rather,are my childhood favorites:
    Vivaha bhojanavidu….& Aahaa nanna maduveyanthe.

  3. Thank you for this generous review and fulsome praise,
    I am a Tamilian and enjoyed the Tamil version in the theatre when it appeared and several times thereafter. We watch it at least once a year with the entire family ( a la ‘It is a Wonderful Life’) now on DVD.
    That there is no religion in this movie is to be taken with a pinch of salt. What is Krishna doing here, but indulging in a bit of his maya! But this religion is not overly didactic, but forms the subtle undertone. One who realises the final fate of Abhimanyu all at the age of 16, after all this festivity portrayed in the film will realise what maya is all about!
    In fact, there is one song, sung by Satyaki, Krishna’s charioteer, in the Tamil version which refers to it explicitly, talking of Krishna’s divine play. Roughly translated into English , it goes:
    Oh Deva, well done, well done!
    How can the earthlings understand your games!
    Someone weeps, some one enjoys.
    But all this is not strange to you!
    Who is a devotee, who is ignorant-
    Even Fate does not seem to know!
    Your play here assumes the form of pleasure and pain
    And thus swings to the two extremes every day!
    If one can fathom this maya of yours,
    He indeed is the fortunate one!
    [The Tamil version, penned by Tanjai Ramaiya Das, is:
    பலே பலே பலே தேவா
    இந்தப் பாரோர் அறியார் உன் மாயை
    ஒருவரின் சோகம், ஒருவரின் யோகம்
    சர்வமும் உணர்ந்திடும் உனக்கு வினோதம்!
    அடியார் யாரோ, அறியார் யாரோ
    அதையே விதியும் அறியாதய்யா!
    உலகினில் சுகதுக்க ஊஞ்சலிலே தினம்
    உனது மாயை விளையாடுதய்யா
    உண்மையில் உந்தன் மாயா லீலையை
    உணர்ந்தவன் தானே தன்யனய்யா!

    Maya Bazaar was a very delightful film, appealing to all age groups. This was the only Tamil film seen by my grandfather in his life, at my urging, in 1957! I was seeing it for the third time then! [ He used to ride horses while young, and so was fond of Hollywood Westerns with all those horses!] So this is something I cannot forget.

    The beauty about the film was the casting- both in Tamil and Telugu, the actors lived their roles. S.V.Ranga Rao was rather over-aged for the role of Gatotgacha, but one did not mind it in the mirth he created. Relangi’s Telugu role was donned by Thangavelu, the super comedian in Tamil. So this movie spoke to each language group in their own idiom! Those days ( before the formation of the blasted linguistic states and the jingoism and chauvinism it created, we enjoyed the movies and did not see where the actors came from. N.T.Rama Rao was legendary in mythological roles, and he and A.Nageswara Rao, along with S.V.Ranga Rao were quite popular in the old Madras state. But Gemini Ganesh as Abhimanyu in the Tamil version was quite super,; though over aged for the role, he had a romantic image and it held!
    The song that S.V.Ranga Rao lip syncs to the voice of Trichy Lokanathan in Tamil on the culinary delights of a wedding feast is still unparalleled. I am tempted to give it here, but it will make the response much too long. [ I have heard that this was based on an English tune.]
    Thank you for a delightful review of a delightful movie that still holds its appeal to young and old alike!

    • Thank you so much for that wonderful comment! It was such a pleasure to read your memories of watching this film and your insights into it – including the Tamil version.

      I agree about that bit about Krishna’s maya too; even as I was watching all the light-heartedness and joy of the Abhimanyu-Sasirekha wedding, I kept thinking that the chakravyuh is not far off (and the film does have some references to it – there is an instance when the Kauravas are discussing it and there is a derisive remark about how Abhimanyu knows how to get into it but can’t get out.

    • Thank you, though I feel the credit goes to the film makers and not to me! I think the film is one of those timeless classics that manages to reach out to people irrespective of culture. I suppose a basic knowledge of the Mahabharat is important, because without that, it may not be as enjoyable.

  4. Dear Madhuji,

    It’s good that you put (1957) after the name of the Movie. As you must be aware, there are a host of Movies with the name MAYA BAZAR out there. The earliest was in Hindi released in 1949, starring Shahu Modak and Durga Khote with Music by Sudhir Phadke. There was one in Bengali, another in Gujarati and I am not sure that the 1984 Hindi version was a Mythological or not.

    But based on your excellent commentary, I prefer the 1957 version and would hesitate to see the others.

    Thanks for a wonderful write-up.

    Warm regards

    PARTHA CHANDA

    • Thank you so much for the appreciation! Yes, I knew that there were several versions of Maya Bazaar. I’m not sure, though, whether they all follow this same story line (there’s a 1958 Hindi version starring Anita Guha, I think, which has the tag line Krishna Vivaah, so I’m guessing that is somewhat different…).

  5. Very goid review.
    I kindly request you to make review of Malayalam classic movie VAISHALI 1988 and Tamil classic THILLANA MOHANAMBAL 1968

    • I don’t review films from beyond 1970. :-) And I have been trying for the past several years to get hold of a subtitled copy of Thillana Mohanambal, but with no success.

      • Subtitled copy of Thillana Mohanambal is in Amazon.in . I bought it from there. The film depicts love , culture and tradtion of tamil nadu. And love betwwn bharatnatyam performer and nadaswaram performer, the two arts being favorite of tamil nadu. It is a cult classic movie. Even today when it is telecasted in tvpeople watch it as it was released yesterday. Such was the directional value of movie. But i am not sure if you would like it.

        • Thank you for the tip. I’ll look on Amazon.

          Another friend, having seen this thread here on my blog, sent me a mail yesterday offering to try and send me a subtitled copy, but he also warned me that the one thing he really liked about the film (he’s very fond of good dancing, and is a diehard fan of the Travancore Sisters) was Padmini’s dance. Not much else. So even I was wondering if I really should bother to try and get hold of it, since it’s not even as if I’m passionate about dance.

          • Dear Madhuji,

            The other day, while researching on the Travancore Sisters, I was searching the YouTube for any scene from any Film which had all three sisters dancing together and came up empty handed. You have two of them together in a number of uploads but never all three together. Apparently there was a Malayalam Movie named PRASSANA which features all three but that is not on YouTube.

            Would be grateful if any enlightened Reader throws more light on this.

            With warm regards

            PARTHA CHANDA

            • Partha, All three sisters danced togather in tamil film manthrikumari 1950 and many more., acted togather in films like marumagal 1953, thooku thooki 1954, etc. A dance from manthri kumari is here. Watch at 1:33:40

              • Dear Pradyu,

                God bless you for this wonderful find. And yes the song is very much there on YouTube as well. As far as I could guess, the song is perhaps in praise of the King or whoever that Big Shot is. Since I do not follow the language, I have to ask my Tambram daughter-in-law to translate it for me. But the tune reminded me of a Hindi Film Song made around the same time (from the Film DULARI in 1949) . If you listen carefully, Naushad’s tune is definitely there in the Tamil Song :

                Thanks a million again, Pradyu.

                With warm regards

                PARTHA CHANDA

  6. There was a Marathi movie of the same name released in the 1940s(??). Not sure if it was based on the same story and the print seems to be unavailable now. Can someone shed some light please? Much appreciated.

    • Yes, there was such a Movie and it was released in 1939. From the extremely sketchy info. available, Panditrao Nagarkar (of Amar Bhoopali fame) was the Hero as well as the Music Director.

      Warm regards

      PARTHA CHANDA

  7. One word for this film ‘Masterpiece’. It has been nearly a year ago when I watched this classic and from then it is among my favorites. It was techinally ahead of its time, acting was superb and the colorization was also good (personally I think better than that of Mughal-E-Azam, M-E-A colorization was garish, to some extent), but in the colorized version the frames were cropped which affected the cinematography. Also this was the first time when I saw Savitri and later became a fan of her. Recently South Indian film industry made a biopic on her named as ‘Mahanati’ (Telugu) or Nadigyar Thilalakam (Tamil), it was very well directed and there were some related to the making of Mahanati. Do watch if you manged to get subtitles.

    P.S. – ‘Mayabazar’ was later remade in Hindi but with not big names and hence wasn’t successful.

    • fixing some typos
      “Recently South Indian film industry made a biopic on her named as ‘Mahanati’ (Telugu) or Nadigyar Thilalakam (Tamil), it is very well directed and there are some scenes related to the making of Mayabazar. Do watch if you manage to get subtitles.”
      :)

    • Agree completely about this being a masterpiece. It’s an utter delight. And yes, the colourization was also pretty well done (to the films you’ve named as being badly colourized, I’d like to add another one, which I think beats even these: Hum Dono). I went to watch that in a cinema hall when it was released in its colourised version, and hated the work they’d done on it. The colours were so horribly artificial.

      Will keep Mahanati in mind, thank you for the recommendation.

      • Yes. Colorization of Hum Dono looks like an animated version of the movie. I think Naya Daur is the only film which looks good in color, films like Half Ticket, Dil tera deewana, Andaz etc. in color looks worst.

        • Yes, Hum Dono was colourized really badly. One thing in particular which put me off was why all the greenery (in the background of Abhi na jaao chhodkar, for example) was made a horrible grey-green. Throughout the film, plants and trees look like anything except vegetation!

  8. Madhuji, we love your blog mainly because of what you did here. You take suggestions from your readers to heart and bring your own take on it with a movie -lovers eye. I love your synopsis and comments. Mayabazaar has got to be my favorite Tamil movie of all time and I think one blog reader said it best, you don’t ask someone IF you have seen it, only how many times :) Thanks for the nostalgia.
    Interestingly it seems like there are quite a few mythologicals from that time with a slightly different cast between Tamil and Telugu versions. One of which comes to mind is the movie which was dubbed into Hindi as ‘Swarna Sundari’ (with the amazing Rafi Lata duet – kuhu kuhu bhole koyaliya). The Telugu version had Nageshwara Rao, while the Tamil one had Gemini Ganesan similar to Maya Bazaar.

    • Thank you so much! Your comment is really heart-warming. And as I’ve said several times over the years, this blog wouldn’t be what it is without its readers, so I’m more than happy to take up suggestions and recommendations from readers – after all, that’s how one learns about cinema one hasn’t grown up with. And I have received some really good recommendations from readers – Maya Bazaar being a thoroughly enjoyable one.

      I hadn’t known that about Swarn Sundari. If I remember correctly, even Pathala Bhairavi was made in both Telugu and Tamil (or was it merely dubbed in Tamil? Now I’m confused).

      • Patala Bhairavi was dubbed into Tamil. In those days Vijaya-Vauhini Telugu films were simply dubbed into Tamil. Pendli Chesi Choodu in Telugu was dubbed as ‘Kalyanam Panni Paar” [ Perform a marriage and see- based on an adage about the difficulties involved in performing a marriage and constructing a house. This proverb is there in all three languages :Telugu, Tamil, Kannada,] Later they did the films in the two languages separately, with the same sets. S.V.Ranga Rao appeared in both versions. He was quite popular in any role.
        Similarly, A.Nageswara Rao’s Annapurna Pictures also used to dub Telugu films into Tamil. NTR became popular among Tamil audiences following Patala Bhairavi, and ANR became popular after Devadas. HIs films Donga Ramudu, and Allauddin and the Wonderful Lamp, as also Manjal Mahimai, Rojulu Marayi etc were dubbed into Tamil. This kind of linguistic amity was spoiled by the rise of Dravidian politics.

        • “‘Kalyanam Panni Paar” – that sounds like the Hindi Ghar basaake dekho. I believe there’s a Hindi film from the 60s by that name, though I’ve not seen it.

          “This kind of linguistic amity was spoiled by the rise of Dravidian politics.

          That’s such a shame. I’m sure that would deprive audiences of so much that they could possibly otherwise appreciate – and I would think it would hurt the profitability of a film maker too.

      • Madhuji, this rapport you have with your readers, responding to every comment, taking their suggestions and this community of like minded people you have built up, sets your blog apart. Finally a safe place where one could scroll through the comments without fear of a Rafi-Kishore Kumar flame war or ‘Asha was better than Lata (or vice-versa)’ diehards :)
        However I am confessing to feeling a little nervous to be a Tamilian who hasn’t seen Thillana Mohanambal around these parts now :)

        • “However I am confessing to feeling a little nervous to be a Tamilian who hasn’t seen Thillana Mohanambal around these parts now :)

          LOL! But the Tamilians and other South Indians reading this post are all civilized people who I’m sure will understand. :-)

          And there are blog posts on this blog – my review of Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam, for instance, or my review of Rajesh Khanna’s biography, that have sparked off some very irate comments from a few people – thankfully not the regular visitors of this blog. One of those people I eventually ended up calling out for always passing nasty remarks, and we parted on mutually un-amicable terms!

          • Ah I do remember that, it was quite weird. Hope you dont have to deal with that anymore. But just looking at the outpouring of nostalgia for this movie in this comment thread, it is just endearing. These folks commenting here are great and unbelievably knowledgeable on movie trivia.
            There is zero excuse for nastiness, but a small part of me identifies with the passion people have for their favorite singers or actors and are ready to go to war! (figuratively). I had a reputation of being ‘the guy who never gets angry’ in college, but there have been occasions when i have unleashed my fury on some misguided soul who had the nerve to speak disparaging about Mohd Rafi. That will not happen on your blog, not to worry- I am older and wiser now :)

            • I don’t mind passion but as you say, there’s no excuse for nastiness – and the sad part is that far too many Indians lack basic etiquette. Being completely devoted to a particular singer/actor/director etc should not mean that you brand as ‘moronic’ or ‘tasteless’ (both adjectives appearing in recent comments that have been posted on this blog regarding Kalpana Karthik) those who don’t agree with you. I am all for debate and disagreement, but I think it’s important to maintain a certain decorum while doing so – name-calling is not on.

              Talking of Rafi, I would never speak disparagingly of him! ;-) Such a wonderful, wonderful singer. Just thinking of him puts a smile on my face.

      • Actually yesterday night itself, I found a Tamil subtitled version in YouTube.
        It was clear nice and I watched it. Some part of course, and the food song. The vfx as you have mentioned already, are really good.
        And the demon ghatotkach eating and describing the food items, looks so cute and innocent. As if he is a child.
        Enjoyed that part.
        Let’s see, someday I’m going to watch it fully.
        :-)

        • Ghatotkach is a delightful character in the film! I do hope you get to see all of it someday. I know that the cast for the Tamil version was somewhat different, but I’m guessing that since Savitri was also the heroine in that version, at least you’ll get to see her absolutely fabulous acting as Ghatotkach-being-Sasirekha. :-)

  9. What adds to the beauty of films like Maya Bazaar is that most of us would have seen them in our childhood and in childlike innocence, been totally captivated by the special effects.. The magic of it all was overwhelming. As adults, we may now not feel the same degree of pleasure.

    • That’s a point that I agree with when I think back on some of the Hindi films I first watched on Doordarshan when I was a child. I had very fond memories of some films which, when I now revisit, I see for all the plot holes, poor scripting and melodrama that I happily forgave back then.

  10. Incidentally, do watch Thillana Mohanambaal. It is an excellent film with top class acting by Sivaji and Padmini.

    • Lots of people have recommended that to me over the years, but I’ve so far been unable to find a copy with subtitles. Someone has just told me that it’s available on Amazon, so I’ll see if I can take that route…

  11. Ooooh – one of my favourite films of all time. :) I’m so glad you reviewed it. And like many of the other commenters, just ask me how many times I’ve watched this. (I’ve forgotten!)

    Doesn’t a young Savitri resemble a young Meena Kumari (and vice versa)? They even did each other’s roles when the films were remade. Savitri was a wonderful, wonderful actress. Until they got her stuck into the three-handkerchief weepies!

    Seconding the loved for Thillana Mohanambal.

    • Yes, Savitri does resemble a young Meena Kumari! That same readiness to act goofy. :-D And oh how wonderful she was as Ghatotkacha-being-Sasirekha! That ham-handedness, that occasional forgetting that she’s supposed to be all demure and sweet. Such a hoot. :D

      “Until they got her stuck into the three-handkerchief weepies!

      Ah. Like Meena Kumari, again? :-)

      • Yes Meena Kumari did resemble Savitri at one stage, This you can see in Sharaarat (1959) and Mem Sahib ( 1956) too where Meena appeared in lighter , delightful roles. The resemblance factor was played to the full when ‘Missiamma” in Tamil ( Missamma in Telugu) was remade in Hindi as Miss Mary. (1957), with Meena playing the role of Savitri, with Gemini Ganesh. To some extent, this resemblance of Meena to Savitri is noticed in some scenes in Kinare Kinare, (1963) but this film was ten years in the making and the resemblance ceased. There was another kind of resemblance too: both were unhappy in marriage, took to drinking in later years, became flabby and died in miserable circumstances. It is heart rending when these artistes who brought so much joy to countless people suffered so much.

        • That bit of information about Savitri’s later life makes me feel really sad for her. What a pity. Yes, it’s heartrending when people who’ve been so well-loved end up in such dire circumstances. There are sadly far too many examples of this in the cinema industry.

  12. I mostly try and watch the movies that you review here and are new to me.
    Now that Anupji has pointed out that there is a sub-titled version available, I plan to watch and then come back.

  13. This is a wonderful review of a classic movie, Madhu. In the days when South Indian film industry was in Madras(now Chennai), a number of classics emerged and an entire generation of people grew up with these classics. In particular, three classics stand out that were made in Telugu and remade in Tamil (or made simultaneously). In Telugu, this generation of people can be called “The Maya Bazaar, Gundamma Katha, Missamma generation”. These 3 movies were the benchmark for this generation.

    For all these 3 movies, you can only ask ‘How many times did you see (one of the 3 classics). 100 or more is not an uncommon answer from this generation!!!!!

    There can be many reasons for an entire generation growing up on these classics – superb comedy, gripping story, great acting and songs that you can hear a thousand times or more without getting tired – the underlying melodies are timeless when compared with today’s music. I notice another point about the actors of of those years – their dialogue delivery. Their diction was clear, pitch and volume were perfect and when you watch on TV, you do not have to strain to hear what they were saying. Today’s actors mumble (even with headphones, I struggle to hear what Ajay Devgun is whispering most of the time!!!) and perhaps believe that whispering, mumbling or speaking from the corner of the mouth is conveying emotion! Some of today’s actors are great, but they need to work on dialogue delivery and learn from actors of these classic movies about how to speak clearly and flawlessly (at least most of the time).

    Missamma was later remade in Hindi as Miss Mary. Gundamma Katha set the template for comedy in a number of later films.

    Incidentally, Sandhya in Mayabazaar was Jayalalitha’s (former CM of Tamilnadu) mother. NTR, Ranga Rao, ANR (A Nageswara Rao) and Savitri were the common elements in all three classics. NTR was the undisputed king of Mythologicals and people in theatres would break coconuts and perform aarti when his mythological movies were shown. Even today, this generation visualise Rama and Krishna as NTR!!!!!!.

    There is a lot to admire, enjoy and learn from these classics….Thanks for your wonderful review highlighting all the aspects that made Maya Bazaar such a great classic. Your review inspired me to watch the movie again – for the nth time!!!!!!

    • I so completely agree about diction. Yes, what happened to that clear diction? (And it’s not as if emotion must necessarily go for a toss if you speak clearly).

      Thank you so much for that insightful and interesting comment. I did read about NTR becoming pretty much synonymous with Krishna, but hadn’t known about people breaking coconuts in cinema halls when they went to see his movies! That’s quite cute, actually. :-) And I didn’t know about Sandhya being Jayalalitha’s mother. Lots of things learnt, there.

      I did try to look for a subtitled Missamma after I watched Maya Bazaar, but couldn’t find one. Will try and see if I can find Gundamma Katha. Fingers crossed!

  14. Hi Madhuji,
    Got time today, to watch the subtitled Tamil version.
    What a delightful film!
    Loved it.
    And savitri playing the demon ghatotkach was the most funny part. In all enjoyed it a lot.
    Last half an hour is still remaining.
    Will watch it tomorrow if time permits.
    Thanks a lot.
    The film brings a smile thought out its entire length.
    Thanks for the review. I would never have watched it otherwise!

    🙏🙏🙏

    • Oh, I’m so glad you’re enjoying it. And Savitri as Ghatotkacha is such a delight! Have fun. I loved the film so much, I’m sure I’ll be watching it again, sooner rather than later.

  15. Maya Bazaar is one of my alltime favourite movies – I have seen it in 3 languages: Kannada, Tamil and Telugu! Such humour and lightness, but woven very beautifully with romance. If you liked Savitri in this, you might enjoy a recent movie called Mahanati which is a biopic about her. It’s so well made that at times it seemed like it had been made in that era.

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