H M Reddy: The first Telugu talkie director

This is the 80th year telugu talkie cinema. Cinema with language has evolved ever since the spoken word was recorded and the world witnessed a drastic change in the issues of the time and region. The telugu cinema evolved and it happens our duty to remember the services of the first director of Telugu cinema. He is none other than H M Reddy who later on donned many hats and was a pioneer of cinema in various other languages too.

Born in Bangalore in the year 1892, Hanumappa Muniyappa Reddy, studied in Bangalore and was working as Inspector of Police in Bangalore, till the fascination for movies landed him in the film industry. Along with his cousin H V Babu, he left to Bombay and joined as an assistant to B P Mishra. He later joined Ardeshir M Irani, at the Imperial Studios. He initially worked as a light Boy and graduated to other jobs at the studio but his focus was always on the Director and concentrated on the techniques of Film Making. Recognizing his talent, Ardeshir Irani gave him the job of directing “Vijay Kumar”, a silent movie, in the year 1930 which had Prithvi Raj Kapoor as the protagonist.

When Ardeshir M Irani wanted to produce “Bhaktha Prahlada” in Telugu as a talkie, he immediately chose H M Reddy to be the Director. Later, he directed the first Tamil Talkie “Kalidas”. Later on he directed a few movies in various languages. At that time he used to reside in Kolhapur and work for Kolhapur Film Company and Shalini Cine Tone Studios.

During the year1934-1935, Parupalli Seshaiah and Kurukuru Subba Rao of Vijayawada wished to produce a movie and consulted H M Reddy. He helped them to produce “Draupadi Vastrapaharanam” in the Direction of H V Babu. The movie became a success and then on H M Reddy got interested in production and wished to own a Production Company.

H M Reddy started Rohini Pictures Limited with the partnership of B N Reddy and actress Kannamba. In the year 1938, he produced a social “Griha Lakshmi” which was based on the play “Rangoon Rowdy”. This movie’s central theme revolved around the ban on liquor and arrack, which echoed Mahatma Gandhi’s movement regarding the same and became a stupendous success.

Later, H M Reddy continued to produce films till Second World War broke out during the production of “Amrutha Hastam”, and he had to shelve the project. H M Reddy shifted to Bangalore and established “Mysore Movie Tone” in Mysore. He left for Bombay for a brief period and produced “Justice” in Hindi and later came back to Madras permanently in 1949 to continue producing movies.

H M Reddy was a stalwart of Film Industry both as a Director and as a Producer. He never shied away from experimenting. He gave lead role to Mukkamala who was acting as a villain and made a Heroine out a vamp in the form of Anjali Devi for the movie “Nirdoshi” in the year 1951. Sivaji Ganeshan made his debut in the film industry by lending his voice to Mukkamala for the Tamil version of the movie. Both the versions of the movie were a success story and led to the formation of Rohini Studios in Madras. Famous personalities like L V Prasad, B N Reddy, K V Reddy and Kamalakara Kameswara Rao did their apprenticeship with H M Reddy in various departments of Film Making.

H M Reddy never believed in Star power. His philosophy in film making was “Believe yourself rather than believing in Stars”. He died during the making of “Gaja Donga” on January 14th 1960.

H M Reddy was a man who strove for change and liked to experiment and a great individual who introduced new talent and stood as a lamp post for many a career.

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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