Kaikala Satyanarayana: The favourite Yama of Tollywood and Telugu audience

Kaikala Satyanarayana was famous for playing Yama, from NTR’s 'Yamagola' to Ali’s 'Yamaleela' and Karthika Raja's 'Deerga Ayushman Bhava'.

ByDeepthi Nandan

Published Dec 23, 2022 | 9:06 PMUpdatedJun 04, 2024 | 12:38 PM

yama kaikala satyanarayana

In a career spanning over six decades, actor Kaikala Satyanarayana played a myriad of roles with extremely diverse shades.

From a side hero to a monstrous villain, a comedian to a character artist, period films to socio-fantasies, and action sequences to dance numbers, Satyanarayana did it all and with elan.

Perhaps this is why he is still considered irreplaceable!

But one timeless achievement of the legendary actor was his portrayal of Lord Yama — the God of Death.

Thanks to his inimitable acting prowess, Satyanarayana immortalised Lord Yama for the Telugu audience.

It was NTR’s superhit flick Yamagola that gave him an opportunity to reprise the role of Yama.

The socio-fantasy movie, released in 1977, became such a blockbuster that it is still considered one of the all-time greatest commercial hits of Tollywood.

Directed by Tatineni Prakash Rao, Yamagola featured NTR and Jaya Prada in the lead roles.

However, it was Satyanarayana who grabbed the eyeballs and took away the credit for the mega success of the socio-fantasy movie.

From Yamagola to Deerga Ayushman Bhava

Satyanarayana appeared as Yamadharmaraja once again in the Chiranjeevi-starrer Yamudiki Mogudu (1988). Directed by Ravi Raj Pinisetty, the socio-fantasy film was also a major commercial success.

The Telugu audiences in theatres cheered and clapped whenever he rendered the iconic word with a bursting voice: “Yamunda”.

Indeed, the impact created by Kaikala in the role of Lord Yama was so intense that when acclaimed director SV Krishna Reddy was zeroing in on an actor to play Lord Yama in the movie Yamaleela, he could not think of anyone other than veteran actor Kaikala Satyanarayana.

Released in 1994, Yamaleela saw Satyanarayana reprising the role of Lord Yama with aplomb and elegance. The socio-fantasy flick introduced comedian Ali as the lead actor and also became a silver-jubilee hit.

The song “Abhi Vandanam Yama Rajaagrani”, rendered by SP Balasubrahmanyam and KS Chitra, was quite popular in those days. It was picturised on Kaikala and Lathasri.

Immediately after Yamaleela, Satyanarayana played the role of Ghatothkacha in Ghatothkachudu (1995).

This SV Krishna Reddy directorial was also a huge hit, becoming one of the best movies in the veteran actor’s career.

This was followed by Yamaleela Malli Modalayyindi in 2007, where the veteran actor was seen as Yamadharmaraja. The film featured Srikanth, Venu Thottempudi, Meera Jasmine, and Reema Sen in the lead roles. It was directed by Srinivasa Reddy.

In the flick, Srikanth played the grandson of Lord Yama (Kaikala) and won accolades for his performance.

For the legendary actor who started his career in the late 1950s, Yamaleela and Ghatothkachudu ensured that Kaikala got close to the hearts of even millennials.

He was last seen as Yama in Deerga Ayushman Bhava (2018), directed by Purnanand.

It starred Mishti Chakravarthy and Karthika Raju. Incidentally, Deerga Ayushman Bhava was Kaikala’s last film.

Synonymous with Lord Yama

Satyanarayana mostly played villainous roles in the initial days of his career. It was with these characters that he earned popularity.

But, in the later part of his career, he turned into a character artist and essayed positive roles.

He worked with actors across generations like NT Ramarao, Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Krishna, Kongara Jaggayya, Savitri, Chiranjeevi, Balakrishna, Sarada, Jayaprada, and Mahesh Babu, to name a few.

Despite the negative roles, he was a positive and cheerful person off the screen.

Kaikala will be remembered forever as the majestic Lord Yama by the Telugu people!