Raksharekha (1949)

 ●  Telugu ● 2 hrs 48 mins

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Costumed fantasy, and a rare joint appearance of Telugu cinema’s two best-known female stars, Bhanumathi and Anjali Devi. Kalavathi (Bhanumathi), talented and versatile daughter of the king of Simhala, refuses to marry, as does Sudhakar (A. Nageshwara Rao), prince of the neighbouring kingdom of Avanti. While he is asleep, fairies come and transport him in his bed to Kalavathi’s chamber and they fall in love. The celestial damsel Chitra (Anjali Devi), envious of Kalavathi, whisks Sudhakar up to heaven, allowing him to return to earth once a week but threatening that his head will explode into a 1000 pieces if he reveals her existence. When Kalavathi gets pregnant, her husband’s disappearances lead to rumours accusing her of infidelity and she is forced to leave the palace. Kidnapped by tribals, she escapes dressed as a man. Another princess, Chandrika, believing Kalavathi to be a man, falls in love with her and marries her. In the end, Chitra throws Sudhakar out of heaven and he lands on earth, petrified into a stone statue. A holy man makes him human again and changes Chitra into a witch. Patterned on an earlier hit, Pullaiah’s Gollabhama (1947), the film became a pioneering example of a genre Telugu film critics call ‘folklore films’.
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