Gopi Krishna’s Tandav Dance: Bhookailas vs. Bhookailasa

Tuesday, February 22, 2011
I’ve long been hunting for Gopy Krishna’s tandava dance in the old Telugu film Bhookailas. When I finally got a copy of the DVD, I also discovered a copy of the old Kannada film Bhookailasa. At first I thought it must be a dubbed version of Bhookailas, but then I saw the DVD cover of the famous actor Rajkumar posing in the same iconic way as NTR. I was bemused! Was it a remake? Which one came first? And most importantly, did Gopi Krishna and Kamala have different dances in each version?

I watched each version’s dances with excitement! At first, they looked identical and as though the same footage had been used twice. But then I noticed a couple of things that made me second guess myself. So in true classical dance nerdesse, I decided to put the tandava dance side by side to make a determination once and for all. It turns out that each ‘version’ was recorded separately! See for yourself (reuploaded new video 2019):

It becomes fascinating the more you watch it. The choreography is danced slightly different each time, and the editing in each version reflects different ideas of when to end shots and insert others.  Just when you think a section is really the same, another dissimilar detail jumps out at you!   I think my favorite difference is the cow that the Telugu version felt was so important to interject at 1:42. :)  Gopi Krishna’s ability to retain such pitch-perfect rhythm yet put in a unique stamp on each version is a testament to his talents in dance. And that flexibility!

After doing a bit of research, it turns out that the Kannada version with Raj Kumar and Kalyan Kumar was released in 1956 and then remade in Telugu in 1958 with NTR and ANR. So Bhookailasa is the original! Oldies historian Randor Guy notes (update: in a blog he once maintained at that's no longer available online) that many folks felt the earlier version was better.  I don't think I can ever shake the idea that the Telugu version was the original!

The question remains: why was the dance remade? Especially since the song is instrumental with no lyrics to mouth to! It would have been infinitely easier to only remake the portions that have a clear difference, such as the character shots that are specific to each version. The mystery remains…

And in case you’re wondering about Kamala’s dances--her's are the same (looks identical but actually reshot) with the added twist that she does have different lyrics to mouth, but I had the most difficult time lining up the dance movements to be parallel and just gave up after some time.  So apologies- no Kamala comparison!

Here's Gopi Krishna's dance in Bhookailasa all by itself, if you'd like to watch it sans comparison. And of course any opportunity to link to a Kamala dance must be taken advantage of! Here she is in the Kannada version of Munneta Pavalinchu Nagashayana.


  1. minai youre a complete nerd!



  2. I love your posts--they are a like a super rich chocolate that best savored in tiny bites in order to enjoy the depth and complexity.

    As to the question of why they remade it, perhaps in 1958 it was just more cost effective to refilm the whole thing (with set, extras, dancers and crew) than get an editor to splice the original in.

    Also, the cow showed up at 3:01 in both versions. My first thought was that it was there to hide a mistake in the dancing, or a cut in the film. But, since this one shows up at the same time, it does seem to be intentional.

  3. hi dustdevil! Thank you for the compliment on my posts. :) I see I have a fellow dance nerdess in my midsts! ;) I lean more towards thinking the dances were remade at the same time but released at different times, only because the sets and the background actors (people standing around, playing the drums, etc.) look exactly the same. And Gopi (and Kamala) also look exactly identical in costuming and the way their clothes sit, jewelry, etc. It seems like such similarity who would be too difficult to recreate later, but who knows! Perhaps the Kannada version was made and then the other versions (it's also in Tamil apparently, perhaps only a dub though) were slowly made apprehensively depending on the success of the original. I love the cow at 3:01 and it's tongue, hehe.

  4. Dustdevil liz,

    Yeah! That's right! Encourage her nerdiness (or should that be nerdessi-ness) some mo!


  5. So does that mean Minai is a nerdessi? Would people in Bollywood call her a nerdessi pardesi?

    BTW, that Gopi Krishna dance comparison clip is quite remarkable. :)

  6. Richard,
    depends on how you pronounce the ss in the word.
    a nirdeSHi(like Shhh! ) would make her an advisor (or a person dispensing advice) and Minai could be that easily. if the ss is pronounced with a flat seeping air ssss Nirdesi would mean she's unlucky, which has not been an experience I would impute to minai,(but thats me).


  7. rameshram and Richard - I think I'm digging this nerdeshi label! I went with the shi given your choices ramesh. ;) I'm tempted to change my blog name to The Nritya Nerdeshi Pardesi! hahaha, where were y'all when I agonized over what to call this little blog o'mine hmm? :D Cheers!

  8. Very enjoyable video comparison of Gopi Krishna's dance in Bhookailas and Bhookailasa. Did you know that Helen danced in the song Sundaranga Andukora from Bhookailas? She portrayed Aspara who tries to seduce the sage Vishwamitra. A wonderful performance, imo :) @

    I wasn't aware of Kannada's Bhookailasa. Do you know if Helen danced as Aspara in that film also? If so, maybe you can do a comparison video of those two videos :)

    Btw, Helen danced with Gopi Krishna in Gunghat (1960). She danced with him in parts of the song called Dil Na Kahin Lagana @

  9. Mister Naidu - That's a great Helen dance from Bhookailas- I don't believe I've seen it before! Curiously, a different actress performs the dance in Bhookailasa; here's a couple screencaps: first, second.

    Helen had a lot more pizazz than the Kannada lady (don't know her name).

    That Gunghat dance is great! I always love finding more of Gopi Krishna's work. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Glad you like the Bhookailas video.

    Thanks for the screenshots from Bhookailasa. I guess Helen wasn't available for that film. After all, she made 25 films that year :)

    Glad you like the Gunghat clip. She and Gopi Krishna made a good team :)

  11. Very cool post! A couple of questions for you, Minai. What program did you use to create the side-by-side visuals? It'd be cool to do something similar for a Telugu film I have that was dubbed into Hindi, but differs slightly with each cut. Also, which version of the film would you recommend watching--the Kannada or Telugu one?

    1. Hi again! :) I used Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD which I had bought- it has a really easy to use 'track motion' feature where you simply resize two videos side by side using two tracks. Only issue I've had with it is there are some .mp4 capability issues, though the problems might have been ironed out in more recent releases. I actually haven't watched either version of the film all the way through yet, but my gut reaction was liking the Kannada one seemed a bit better made, and less "OMG NTR!!" ish, if you will. And it was first. :)

  12. Amazing post. I had a great chance to watch the Bhookailas masterpiece in my childhood in 90's. Recently recollected the "Sundaranga Andukora" song and went crazy about watching and listening to it. Thats when I remembered this dance bit and googled. I was fascinated about his dance when I was a boy. And now, your comparison and analysis along with the Kannada Bhookailasa was great to read and surprised with your findings. Great work. Thanks.

  13. It seems both were made in 1958, simultaneosly.


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