It’s been close to eight decades since the first Telugu talkie emerged in Tollywood and the industry came into existence. On this day 85 years back, in 1932, the first Telugu film Bhakta Prahlada got released.
The film was just made on a budget of Rs 18,000 back then and it just took 18 days to wrap up the shooting of the film. This movie has become a cornerstone of the Telugu cinema industry. The film was helmed by H M Reddy, a pioneer in the industry.
However, inspired by the story two other devotional films were made during the same name in 1942 and 1967. In the latter film, as a child artiste, Roja Ramani reprised the role of Prahlada. She also won a National Award for her performance.
The release date of the first film in Tollywood, however, had undergone a lot of scrutinies to actually find out the date of the day when it actually opened. Later on, in 2011, film researcher and senior journalist, Dr Rentala Jayadeva, published his findings on the exact date of the release.
“After scouting for evidence in libraries in Chennai, Andhra Pradesh and Mumbai, I finally stumbled upon ‘The Bombay Government Gazette -Part I’ (page no.:313) dated February 4, 1932 at the National Film Archives, Pune, which had the dates of films produced and censored in Bombay. The censor date of Bhaktha Prahlada was given in it as January 22, 1932. The Bombay Chronicle carried an advertisement on January 31, 1932 that the film would be released soon. And it was released on February 6, 1932 at Krishna Cinema on New Charlie Road, Bombay. The Times of India carried a review of the film on the same day of its release as preview show was held before its release. Subsequently, it was released in Andhra and then on April 2, 1932 at the National Picture Palace (later renamed as Broadway Talkies), Madras. All this clearly proves that Bhaktha Prahlada was released only in 1932,” stated Jayadeva, as quoted by The Hindu.
Since then, the film’s release was celebrated on February 6 and hence marking the dawn of Tollywood.