“The path to this stage is not bed of roses for us. There was mixture of poverty and pleasure. I felt many times that the pleasure was more in poverty. I was looking after the entire house in those days. With no money on hand there was pleasure. Once in a week I used to travel by electric train and reach the beach. Going to Thirupathi once in a month was compulsory. Sitting together on the floor and eating was the practice in the house. I used to make ‘Kai Thuttu’ (morsel) to all.
I continued the practice of going to shooting. I immensely like Pandari Bai avaru. I remember her for ever. When Rajkumar used to get instructions in English Pandari Bai avaru used to help my husband. To this day Rajkumar also remembers it.
This was the time when there was not much of work to do ‘Kannada Chalanachitra Kalavidara Sangha, Madras’ was formed. The stage plays were held in Karnataka. Kannappa, Sahukara and HM Nayaka were very famous. There were around 30 people in the team – Adavani Lakshmidevi, Ramadevi, Ramachandra Shastri, Mysore Lakshmi, Kulli Jaya, Ashwatta, G.V.Iyer, Krishna Sastri, Balanna, Narasimharaju….., for the entire team the theatre group used to fill the hunger. When stage plays were staged in Mangalore we did not use to get collection. The stage plays in Belgaum used to compensate the Mangalore losses.
Rajkumar was advised not to take Rs.5000 as remuneration for ‘Mahisashura Mardini’. The advice given by Prabhakara Sastri worked out. Rajkumar got Rs.10000 for that film. Then ‘Thukaram’ was made. It was around 1962 Shivu – the first son was born. We got Rs.5000 advance at his birth time.
For ‘Bangaradha Manushya’ Raj got Rs.30000 remuneration. I made it a policy to hike the remuneration every year. When ‘Ranadheera Kanteerava’ was done there was no taker for it. Bharat theatre Sharief called us and arranged for screening. From that time it was only Kannada film in Bharat theatre. Today no one has such ‘Abhimana’.
I am a voracious reader of novels. I wanted Raj to play ‘Nagarahavu’ film. I was reading novels of Bharada Manushya, Hosa Belaku, Eradu Kanasu, Mayura, Samayadha Gombe etc. I remember even today novels I read in those days. Nrupathunga, Ambarisha, Karna, Shankaracharya, Vivekananda etc.
There was lot of pressure for Raj to act in Buddha role. I said no to it. Leaving wife and children at young age was not feasible for Raj image. The thinking pattern differs you know. Masti Venkatesha Iyengar ‘Subbanna’ was also rejected on the same grounds. There was another one from H.L.Nage Gowda. The protagonist leaving his wife and marrying for the second time and then he becomes great. Such a role would fetch National award for Rajkumar it was said. I objected to this and said award for such role is not required.
Recently someone said ‘Jogi’ should have been done in our banner. I said whatever may be the banner, it is our cinema. That’s how we used to think in those days. Anyone doing the film was Rajkumar cinema. I was giving the furniture, vessels for shooting purposes. That is because film should come out luxuriously.
I don’t like journalists. I always keep them away is what others say. But actually I do not have anger. Anyone making mistake irritates me.
It was during ‘Gandhada Gudi’. Rajkumar and Vishnuvardhana photo was printed in a newspaper. In that photo Rajkumar is folding hands and laughing – the caption written was – Why Rajkumar is laughing? Is he laughing because Vishnuvardhana role should come out well? Is he telling that let my role come in any way but Vishnuvardhana role should come out well….
Tell me who will not get angry for such captions? Is it the way of writing? Can anyone write like this?
After this incident I went to Mysore one day. Chi Udayashankerji was also there. When I was sitting in the Hotel the journalist who wrote like that came there. I told him that I want to speak to you.
What did I tell that journalist?