First time when I saw ‘Yogi Vemana’ I was moved by the scene where the character Vema Reddy picks up an old, shriveled and shivering woman into the temple and nonchalantly wraps her with the silk saree that adorns the Goddess idol.
Subsequently, my father would draw my attention to the climax of the film where the great actor Chittor Nagaiah shows the manner of a realized soul even in his gait! (It would be nothing short of awe, if you compare it with his previous scenes). Just like the legend NTR became the benchmark for Lord Krishna, Nagaiah is the one for the sat-chit-ananda portrayal, if it could ever be portrayed.
I revisit this film often and it amazes me every time with its excellence in all crafts of a film making, even though it was made in the 40s. Like a true classic it stands the test of time. Here are a few flickers about the movie’s brilliance.
Story, Character development and Character portrayal:
- While the film does have a disclaimer at the beginning that the historical accuracy cannot be claimed, from a cinematic point of view the film is nothing short of a wonder. The story is nicely structured and the characterization of the lead actor well etched and the scenes just flow. As an audience, one travels with the character effortlessly.
- Agreed, realization can happen in a snap or in a moment. But by lending some cinematic grammar to this uplifting tale and constructing the character graph to bring in the believability, allows the movie to achieve greatness.
- It is a text book of sorts in scene building, and one will not find even a single scene that does not move the story forward or bring out a new shade in the characters. There are no escape routes employed in the form of unnecessary dialogues or characters. The script is taut and the movie’s duration is around 2hrs and is a testimony to this fact.
- It is mentioned in scriptures that one has to conquer the arishadvargas (kama-krodha-lobha-moha-mada-mathsarya) to be on the path of the realization. The legendary combo of writer-director choose to focus on character’s kama ( his blind lust for the woman), moha (his sweeping love for his niece) and lobha (his persistent desire for gold). With these as start points they push the character on to the path of realization, with the necessary plot points. And an actor of caliber of Chittor Nagaiah is provided the right canvass to excel.
- Right at the beginning of the film, one gets a feeling that Vema Reddy is a man of strong and swaying emotions but also possess strong will. Chittor Nagaiah does a terrific job to downplay where the scenes are melodramatic that speak for themselves (like the scene where he questions idol worship with a priest), and emote when they are a little subdued (like the scene where he accepts food from a beggar).
- Without bringing in his might as an actor, he uses the material provided to him by the legend duo (Samudrala-K.V.Reddi) and internalizes the characterization. Otherwise, the journey of the main character from an arishadvarga infested Vema Reddy to a Sat-chit-ananda Yogi Vemana would not have been so believable and heart touching.
Thanks to Youtube, full movie is now available online.