Ghantasala Balaramaiah: The Legend who created Legends

The lives of today’s legends are always sculpted by a masterful hand who identify the talent and mould them into the famous figures they became. One such masterful hand was Ghantasala Balaramaiah, who is best remembered for bringing ANR, KV Mahadevan into the limelight by giving them big breaks through his productions.

Born on 05th July 1906 in Pottipalem in Nellore district, Ghantasala Balaramaiah was third among four brothers. He grew up in the care of his elder brother Ghantasala Surya Ramaiah after the death of his father. He underwent training as Co-Operative Inspector but he chose the path of his other brother, Ghantasala Radha Krishnaiah who was a reputed stage artist of the day, and became a stage actor. He was a good singer too and his singing talent helped him to mesmerize the audience. His Theatre career lasted for nearly two years and played various roles.

In those days most of the films were done in Calcutta and Bombay and the actors were contracted from Theatre and then taken to these cities to make the film as all the infrastructure was based in these cities. Likewise in 1933, Ghantasala Balaramaiah and his brother Ghantasala Radha Krishnaiah were contracted to act in “Rama Dasu”. But Ghantasala Balaramaiah did not act in the film but observed the trends of Film Making and came back to Nellore and with the help of his friends established “Sri Rama films and made “Sati Tulasi” in the year 1936. After the release of the movie he partnered with Venku Reddy to establish “Kubera Pictures” and later on constructed “Kubera Studio”.

The first movie by Kubera Pictures was “Bhaktha Markandeya” and after “Mairavana” in 1940, Ghantasala Balaramaiah came out of Kubera due to differences between him and his partner.

Being a brave man and not one to lay low when challenged, Ghantasala Balaramaiah, with the help of P Pullaiah, established Pratibha Films in the year 1941. And as a first attempt he produced “Parvati Kalyanam”.

During that period, Second World War spread to India and fearing bomb attacks, filming process took a back seat and many of the studios were closed. After the War was over, Film making started again with a feverish fervor and Ghantasala Balaramaiah made a new beginning with his Pratibha Films and started with “Garuda Garvabhangam” in 1943. In 1944 he made “Sri Sita Rama Jananam”, with which he introduced Akkineni Nageswara Rao.

He made other movies in the capacity of Producer and also as a Director. As a Producer, he never faced any commercial failure for his films. Critics might argue that he never made any film to be called as a bench mark but he was a man who made no differentiation between Class and Mass and always made films which appealed to all the sections of the society. The best example is “Bala Raju” in 1948 which was a mile stone in commercial success and which made A N R a house hold name.

The technicians who worked under him always regard him as a great soul and hail him as a self less man in a selfish environment. They recall him as a man from Golden Age who gave them freedom and motivation to work.

He is credited for introducing A N R, Music Director K V Mahadevan, Ashwathama, actor Devika and others. He was the one who experimented by making Anjali Devi a heroine, “Sri Lakshmamma Katha”, at a time when she was playing vamp characters.

During the production of “Rechukka”, Ghantasala Balaramaiah met with his death on 29th October 1953. The film was later completed by P Pullaiah and was released in the year 1955.

After his demise, his son Ghantasala Krishna Murthy produced a few film continuing Ghantasala Balaramaiah’s legacy. The present day Music director, SS Thaman happens to be his grandson.

Krishna Chaitanya.

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About krshychait

A working individual who has a great passion towards arts of India. The literary and cinema field have captured my imagination like no other.

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