The story is based on life of Karna from MahabharataArt: K.S.N.Murthy, SomanathChoreography: VempatiFights: Sambasiva Rao, SwaminaathanDialogues: Kondaveeti Venkata KaviLyrics: C. Narayana Reddy, DasaradhiPlayback: SP Balu, V. Ramakrishna, S. Janaki P. Susheela, Madhavapeddi Ramesh, Anand, M. VenkatraoMusic: Pendyala Nageswara RaoEditing: G. D. JoshiCinematography: KannappaExcutive Producer: Nandamuri HarikrishnaStory - Screenplay - Producer - Director: N. T. Rama RaoBanner: Ramakrishna Cine StudiosRelease Date: 14th January 1977
Music composed by Pendyala Nageswara Rao. Music released on EMI Columbia Audio Company.
The film was completed in 43 working days, which was a record, given that each of the three characters played by N. T. Rama Rao took at least three hours to put the makeup and two hours to remove it. NTR never used to see the rushes before the release; thus they edited the film within days, without seeing the rushes. Kannappa, who earlier worked for NTR's Manushulanta Okkate worked for this film, too. As there was no time for the work to be checked, one can notice the wire work in a couple of scenes, but the audience never bothered about that. Mayasabha work was not completed by the time of the shooting. So, NTR took close-ups while the paintings were done and long shots once it was completed, in order to save time. However, this detail did not reflect on the screen. Harikrishna and Balakrishna also painted the sets along with the art department personnel.
Many films were based on Mahabharata in Telugu; the difference between those films and this one is the characterization of Duryodhana. While making the Sree Krishna Pandaveeyam itself, NTR projected Duryodhana as 'Suyodhana' with a positive touch to the role. In this film, he projected Duryodhana as a well-educated person who knew dharma and other things much better than anyone. Some people even say that the title of the movie could actually have been Maanadhana Veera Suyodhana — such is the importance and characterization of Suyodhana.
This is the first film shot in Ramakrishna Cine Studios in Hyderabad that was started on 7 June 1976 by Tamil superstar M. G. Ramachandran. On the same day, he clapped the muhurta shot for this film. This is the 248th film for N. T. Rama Rao, the fifth film for both Balakrishna and Harikrishna's, and the third film on Ramakrishna Cine Studios banner.
Initially, N. T. Rama Rao wanted Akkineni Nageswara Rao to play the role of Lord Krishna as helm Chanakya Chandragupta if he was given a choice. NTR's original plan at that time was to make Chanakya Chandragupta with him in the role of Chanakya and Nandamuri Balakrishna in the role of Chandragupta Maurya. When ANR was offered to do the role of Chanakya, NTR made changes accordingly and did the role of Chandragupta. However, the script was not ready yet, and there was news that Kamalakara Kameswara Rao was planning the film Kurukshetram with a storyline similar to Daana Veera Soora Karna. Thus, Daana Veera Soora Karna immediately with an intent to release the film for Sankranti at any cost.
Sharada, who worked with NTR in Jeevita Chakram many years prior, acted as Draupadi. She had a lot of doubts before agreeing to do the role. Most of all, she was nervous to work with NTR as she was aware of his strictness. On the first day of the shooting, she was so nervous that she took a lot of takes for her part. After the shooting for the day, NTR talked to her and made her more comfortable. After that film, she did many films with him. Actually, her re-entry into the films in her second innings was with the NTR's Chandashasanudu.
Chalapathi Rao did Four roles (Jarasandha, Atiratha, Indra, Dhristadyumna) and also appears in two other getups as disguises of Indra, while Jaya Bhaskar did a dual role (Surya, Ekalavya). It was NTR who gave a chance to Dhulippala as Shakuni in the film Sree Krishna Pandaveeyam. For this film also, he was chosen for the same role for a remuneration of Rs. 1116/-!
Balakrishna played the role of Abhimanyu, which got him very good recognition. Harikrishna did the role of Arjuna. After Tatamma Kala, this was the second and the last film where all the three of them worked together. This was the only film in which you can see NTR's daughters, even for a second, on the screen in the dance scene of "Jabili Kante Challanidi". Though the complete song was shot, ANR suggested that the scene should be deleted and NTR took out the song before the censor. However, one can still see his daughters on the screen for a moment.
The scene of Indra meeting Karna asking him his Kavacha Kundalas is also a famous scene in the movie.
After much mulling over and asking around, they finally zeroed in on Kondaveeti Venkatakavi to write the script and dialogues for the film. At that time, he was the principal of a Sanskrit college. Kondaveeti Venkatakavi (KVK) is an atheist, and he thus rejected the offer. When NTR personally went and requested, he was unable to say no and both NTR and KVK started working on the script. With this film, KVK got a lot of names.
Dialogues of the film became very popular. The film's dialogues were released as LP and audiocassettes and sold very well. HMV, the company that released the audio, claims that there are considerable sales of the cassettes, and CDs, even now. Particular scenes such as the first meeting of Karna and Suyodhana, Shakuni's encouragement to Suyodhana to go to the raajasUya yaagam, the Mayasabha scene and the subsequent mental upset of Suyodhana, the scene that precedes Draupadi's vastraapaharaNam, and the raayabaaram scene are all famous for their lengthy and complicated dialogues.
The dialogues were immensely popular even though they were in chaste bookish Telugu (graanthikamu). Notable is the "positive spin" that the dialogues give to Duryodhana's character without changing the original story any much, particularly in scenes such as vastraapaharaNam and raayabaaram, where he projects himself as the good guy and Pandavas and Krishna as crooked minds. While most mythological and folkloric movies since the 1950s were all in more or less colloquial tongue (vaaDuka bhaasha), this movie from the 1970s used graanthika bhaasha completely.Most of the verses in DVS Karna are taken from Paandavodyoga Vijayam and Sree Krishna Raayabaram by the famous poet duo Tirupati Venkata Kavulu. Pundareekakshayya had got the rights for these while making the film Sreekrishnaavataaram in the past. Krishna wanted to use them for Kuruskshetram and gave a blank cheque to Pundareekakshayya, who refused the offer and gave the rights to NTR for free.S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and Peesapati Raghuramayya (who was famous on the stage for the role of Krishna) sang the Raayabaram verses initially, but NTR was not satisfied with that. He even thought of using the verses that originally rendered by Ghantasala for the film Shri Krishnavataram. It was Saluri Rajeswara Rao who suggested to use V. Ramakrishna for the verses. Once the film was released, Ramakrishna got a lot of name.Padmalaya Studios got the rights of Ghantasala's Bhagavadgeeta audio after his death and used those verses in Kurukshetram, while DVS Karna has "prosaic" Bhagavadgeeta for the most part.Initially, Saluri Rajeswara Rao was the music director for the film. The songs "Ye Thalli Ninu Kannadho" and the verses were all set to music by him. While he recorded the songs, rest of them were done by Pendyala Nageshwara Rao. However, the title card shows only Pendyala's name. The film has ten songs and 35 verses.
The film was censored on 12 January 1977 and was released on 14 January. (DVS Karna was released with 30 prints in all, but Gemini was unable to print all 30 prints in the short time given, and thus the film was released in 14 centers on the first day and in 16 centers the next day.) The film ran for 100 days in 9 centers and 250 days in Hyderabad Shanti Theatre. DVS Karna's cost was less than ten lakhs. It earned more than one crore in the first run itself! Another record of the film was that it was sold for 60 lakhs for the repeat run in 1994 with 30 prints and earned more than one crore in the repeat run too! (The distributors invested ten thousand per area and got a one scope print per district from Gemini Labs).
DVS Karna can be claimed to be one of the lengthiest films in Telugu Film Industry and even in the Indian film industry on the whole! Its running time is 4 hrs 17 minutes. Out of this, NTR can be seen on the screen for nearly four hours, which is also a record! (Though Raj Kapoor's magnum opus Mera Naam Joker runs for 4 hrs 24 minutes, the film was later trimmed by forty minutes.) A Russian cultural group that visited India at that time saw the film and was wonderstruck with the film, and NTR's abilities that sustained and entertained a lengthy film!The film had a 100-day run in 9 centres.The film had a 250-day run in Hyderabad.The film collected huge amounts in its time and even in repeat runs.
DVS Karna was the second Telugu film after Lava Kusa to collect ₹1 Crores and first Telugu film to collect ₹2 Crores(with an average ticket price being ₹1)in 1977.
In the first twenty years after its release, DVS Karna sold the highest number of tickets beating all the new releases for the year in 13 different years. Lava Kusa is the only other movie with re-run value of three releases. Given the arrival of DVDs etc., it is unlikely that any Telugu movie ever made will sell as many tickets as DVS Karna sold over 16 crore tickets during a 15-year period.VCDs and DVDs on - Universal Videos, SHALIMAR Video Company, Hyderabad