Mayabazar (English: Market of Illusions) is a 1957 Indian bilingual epic fantasy movie directed by Kadiri Venkata Reddy. It was produced by B. Nagi Reddy and Aluri Chakrapani under their banner, Vijaya Vauhini Studios. The film was shot in both Telugu and Tamil with the same title, but with a few differences in the cast. The story is an adaptation of the folk tale Sasirekha Parinayam, which in turn is based on the epic Mahabharata. It revolves around the roles of Krishna (N. T. Rama Rao) and Ghatotkacha (S. V. Ranga Rao), as they try to reunite Arjuna’s son, Abhimanyu (Telugu: Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Tamil: Gemini Ganesan), with his love, Balarama’s daughter (Savitri). The Telugu version features Gummadi Venkateswara Rao, Mukkamala, Ramana Reddy, and Relangi Venkata Ramaiah in supporting roles, with D. Balasubramaniam, R. Balasubramaniam, V. M. Ezhumalai, and K. A. Thangavelu playing those parts in the Tamil version.
The first mythological film produced by their studio, Mayabazar marked a milestone for Nagi Reddy and Chakrapani. In addition to the technical crew, 400 studio workers – including light men, carpenters, and painters – participated in the development of the film. Director Reddy was meticulous with the pre-production and casting phases, which took nearly a year to complete. Though Rama Rao was initially reluctant to play the lead role, his portrayal of Krishna received acclaim and yielded more offers to reprise the same role in several unrelated films. The soundtrack features twelve songs, with most of the musical score composed by Ghantasala. Telugu lyrics were written by Pingali Nagendrarao and Tamil lyrics were written by Thanjai N. Ramaiah Dass. Four of the songs were composed by S. Rajeswara Rao prior to his unexplained departure from the project. One of them was accompanied by the first illusion of moonlight in Indian cinema, shot by cinematographer Marcus Bartley.
The film is considered a landmark in both Telugu and Tamil cinema, with praise for its cast and technical aspects, despite the limitations of technology at the time. Mayabazar received the Filmfare Award for Best Film in Telugu, and was featured at the 1957 International Film Festival of India and the Indonesian Film Festival. The film was screened at the Public Gardens in Hyderabad for its 50th anniversary on 7 April 2007. Raavi Kondala Rao novelised the film’s script based on Venkata Reddy’s screenplay. A May 2013 CNN-IBN poll listed Mayabazar as the greatest Indian film of all time.
Mayabazar became the first Telugu film to be digitally remastered and colourised, at an estimated cost of 75 million (valued at about US$1.7 million in 2010), after a Hyderabad-based company Goldstone Technologies acquired world negative rights to fourteen films including that of Mayabazar in late November 2007. The updated version was released on 30 January 2010 in 45 theatres in Andhra Pradesh. It was a commercial success that generated mostly positive reviews, one critic only expressing a preference for the original.
Directed by Kadiri Venkata Reddy
Produced by B. Nagi Reddy, Aluri Chakrapani
Screenplay by Kadri Venkata Reddy
Story by Pingali Nagendra Rao
Starring N. T. Rama Rao, Savitri, S. V. Ranga Rao
Music by Ghantasala, S. Rajeswara Rao
Cinematography Marcus Bartley
Edited by C. P. Jambulingam & G. Kalyanasundaram
Distributed by Vijaya Vauhini Studios
Release dates 27 March 1957
Running time 184 minutes
Language Telugu / Tamil