Note: This article is written by Sharath Kumar Gaddameedi, an avid follower of Indian as well as Foreign Cinema..we, the authors of Marapuraani Chitralu thank him for this informative piece of write up.
India’s 1st full length feature film Raja Harishchandra completes 100 years on Friday (May 3, 2013). Directed by Dadasaheb Phalke, Raja Harishchandra was released on May 3, 1913 after it was premiered on 21 April 1913 at the Olympia Theatre. The run time of the silent film was around 40 minutes and was exhibited with one print in a single theater Coronation Cinema Hall, Goregaon (North Mumbai).
Dadasaheb Phalke is regarded as the Father of Indian Cinema. Phalke was a visionary gifted enough to foresee the awesome potential of the film medium almost a century ago. Phalke’s film ‘Raja Harishchandra’ was not the first ever Indian film.
Dadasaheb Phalke, the founding father of Indian Cinema, was born on April 30, 1870 at Trimbakeshwar near Nasik in the Maharashtra state of India. Named as Dhundiraj Govind Phalke by his Sanskrit scholar parents, Phalke developed a passion for creative arts from a young age and enrolled at the Sir J.J. School of Arts, Bombay in 1885.
The Dadasaheb Phalke Award is the most prestigious award in the realm of Indian cinema. Named after Dadasaheb Phalke, the pioneer of Indian film industry, the award is bestowed to honor distinguished contribution to the growth and promotion of the film medium.
Harishchandrachi Factory is a 2009 Marathi film, directed by Paresh Mokashi, depicting the struggle of Dadasaheb Phalke in making Raja Harishchandra in 1913.
Dadasaheb Phalke award winners from Telugu film Industry
- Bomireddi Narasimha Reddy (1974) – First South Indian to receive the highest award in movies inIndia.
- Paidi Jairaj (1980)
- B.Nagi Reddy (1986)
- Akkineni Nageswara Rao (1990)
- D. Ramanaidu (2009)
P.S: Credit to the amazing contributors for Indian Cinema in http://i-heart-cinema.tumblr.com. for making this excellent work of animation in the beginning of this article.
Till part 1 of the entertainment centric movie post, we just saw the beginnings of the scope in which Commercial Cinema can take us. The best of it marks its beginning when Indraja (Sridevi), the daughter of Lord Indra returns to Planet Earth to get back her magical ring from Raju (Chiranjeevi) in a tactful manner. Being to her obvious divine self, Indraja feels the task is quite simple, and takes matter of minutes for her mission to be accomplished. The first encounter of Indraja happens with Raju at Borra Caves area in a hilarious way! The scene unfolds in such a way where Raju tries to explain the history of the Emperor Rajasimha to his tourist customers and in a timely way the tourists hear the laughter and movements of Indraja- eventually misunderstanding her to be a ghost!
Raju loses his customers on account of this and he gets quite furious looking at Indraja for the first time. Looking at her mythological styled attire and jewellery, he mistakes her to be a drama artiste and tries to get rid of her immediately. The way Indraja calls Raju “Maanava” (“Oh Human Being!”) and the latter reacting to the same saying “Aa Pilupu Maanava” (“Won’t you stop calling me like that?”) in an irritable manner is a treat to watch! Thanks to Jandhyala garu who made best use of the word Maanava in both noun and verb forms when used by Indraja and Raju respectively at a brilliant level of comedy
Poor Indraja- who gets shocked by the indignance of Raju in not being kind to her gets more determined to get him back in good books. In the course of it she chases back Raju and his kid group hoping to get some whereabouts about where he lives.
It is now time to introduce the most comical police duo played by the veteran Tamil comedian Janakiram and his assistant named Maalokam who are too funny and naïve as far as finding criminals is concerned. The most interesting aspect of this duo is the sentences they speak on. Their conversations in this film became so popular that people use the same even now when similar situation comes in real life! Whenever the assistant acts too clever in finding out something important- Janakiram says “Ekkadiko Vellipoyavu Maalokam” (You have gone far ahead, Maalokam!) in his amazing dialogue delivery and the assistant innocently replies to it saying “Ounu Sir, Swarga Lokapu Anchulu Daakaa Vellipoyanu Sir!” (Yes Sir, I have even reached the end of Heavens’ Gate!).
The Police duo comes to know that certain Princess from Sambhalpur has gone missing and they would get Prize Money for the same. At the very moment they happen to see Indraja (Looking too obvious to be a princess!) and try to follow her up. In the course they catch another guide, played by Allu Ramalingaiah. The scenes between these three terrific comedians are worth watching in the movie than being described in the post!
Coming back to the main storyline , Indraja finds out Raju’s house with great difficulty and it so happens that when the members in the house are ready to eat, our dear Indraja also sits innocently along with them. Raju gets flabbergasted seeing Indraja in his house and asks her to leave at the very instant. When his attempts run futile he even calls his pet dog (Named Alladdin!) but due to the divine powers of Indraja, even that attempt becomes a failure. The kids start requesting Raju to let Indraja stay with them, as they feel she is too sweet to have around! It is now time for Jandhyala to take the front seat in the dialogues department when Raju and Indraja start a conversation about food. The wonderful imagination on how a person from Heavens and a normal middle class Human being from Telugu household speak is shown amazingly in this sequence!
Indraja looks at Rice, and Brinjal curry being served to her in a plate and being totally foreign to such cuisine, she asks Raju this way:
Indraja: “Ee Davala Varna Padardhamemi Maanava?”
“Oh Human, what is this white coloured material?”
Raju (Quite irritated with such questions!): “ Daanini Annam antaru,Ye intha kaalam gaddi gaadham thini brathikava?”
“That is Rice!Why so?You have been eating grass or stuff like that all these years?”
Indraja, Looking at Brinjal and asking more innocently..
“What is this?”
Raju (Irritation reached to heights!): “Adhi..Vankaya!”
“That is Brinjal!”
Indraja, still unable to believe that it is something to be eaten, asks
“Deenini Em Cheyavale?”
“What should I do with this?”
Raju: “Daanini Notlo pettukuni Koruku!”
“Keep that in mouth and give it a bite!”
Poor Indraja does as said and gets shocked with the spicy food and starts yelling in anguish!
This is Jandhyala’s way of saying that AP Cuisine is challenging even to people who come from Divine Lands!
Looking at the way Indraja speaking and the interactions, Raju comes to the obvious conclusion that Indraja is somebody who is mentally ill and needs to be taken to her family members very soon. He devises a plan thinking of giving a Missing advertisement on newspaper by taking her picture and in that way, she can be sent back to her family!
When even that attempt gets failed as the picture taken by Vichitra Kumar (Brahmanandam), a crazy Photographer in town comes off totally blank, Raju gets more furious with Indraja’s presence at home. Time for some heroic deeds come to picture now, as he brings out the wrong doings at a local casino run by some bad guys in the town. The casino group chases Raju and party, leaving them helpless but to seek refuge at a Recording dance hall and the funniest part is to see Raju and Indraja disguise as Recording dance artists. The best part comes when our duo start dancing in a funny way leading to the most popular song in Telugu Cinema ever (As far as Melody and Commercial element in perfect balance is concerned) Yamaho appears for the visual and musical delight!
The song is well picturized (despite some unavoidable presence of Fruits and flowers in K.Raghavendra Rao songs), but nicely choreographed as well. Chiranjeevi and Sridevi look too perfect for each other as they complement wonderfully in dance!
Watch the music perfect song below:
The local rich aristocrat Das (Played by Kannada Prabhakar) gets very angry with his business getting affected. Things turn in such a way that Raju and Indraja challenge Das yet again in a party and even make the villain gang dance for their tunes singing a song “Dinakkutha”.
Watch the graceful dance steps of Chiranjeevi and Sridevi for this song below! Trivia says that Chiranjeevi was having 102 degree fever during this shoot and it is amazing to see that was not reflected at all in the video! SPB does wonderful job in singing exactly like Chiranjeevi, and rendering the dialogues as well in between!
Oh yes! Indraja has not forgotten her mission of getting her ring back from Raju, and she tries in every crazy way possible to get it back- but all her attempts run futile. While once we feel its too funny, but at the same time we start feeling sorry for her!
Das cannot believe himself that his power is being challenged in the town and he suspects some divine power is behind Raju’s courage and the energy in which he confronts such a rich person like him. He decides to consult a Wizard Mahadrushta (Enter the classic Wizard with negative shades-Amrish Puri!) to get some advise on the same.
Things gathered a good pace now where the good power and evil power are rising in parallel!
What happens next? Is Human will greater than Divine or magical power?
How is Humanity weighed over the tremendous magical powers which divine people possess?
What challenges Indraja faces when she starts appreciating the bold nature of Raju?
More to come in Part 3!
As promised in the previous post about exploring more of Commercial Telugu Cinema in our Marapuraani Chitralu, I couldn’t find any other better occasion than the New Year’s Eve to start the same! Let it be for my personal connection, or the unavoidable influence of this film during the time of its release, or the perfect blend of Commercial elements along with wittiness, the first film which came to my mind when I thought of this area of Telugu Cinema was Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari.
Fictional stories and folklore has been the very backbone of Telugu Cinema right from the Black and White era. They are enjoyable not only to children (Who naturally have a sense of imagination and wonder!) but even to any person alike. They are like a beautifully entertaining escape route from the tiring daily routine one faces, and have the capability to transport the viewer to a really new World, with a set of different dimensions and possibilities. Mythological fiction- a sub-branch of this area of Telugu Cinema is another vastly explored genre where some stories of Hindu Mythology are connected to the current day of living. One such film which created a wave during the mid-70s was Sr.NTR starrer Yama Gola.
Mythological Fiction gave a new dimension and different challenges to the writer as well as the director, where the sequences should not look too artificial or contrived. They have to be so plausible to view, that one should believe it is really happening in real. On the brighter side, this particular genre has a limitless scope to be extremely hilarious, as well as thought-provoking as well.
K.Raghavendra Rao- who is called as the undisputed trendsetter in Commercial Telugu Cinema, was already in the top notch directors of that age when Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari came into picture. His association with the phenomenal Jandhyala garu dates back to Adavi Ramudu, Vetagadu- where the mesmerizing dialogues with amazing comedy sense were written by the latter- added so much to the Commercial aspects of these films. Now it was time for Raghavendra Rao to get a trendsetting team of Commercial Cinema- Megastar Chiranjeevi in the lead, the no.1 actress (with Glamour as well as excellent acting skills) Sridevi, Maestro ILaiyaraaja for Music, Veturi in the lyrics department, and not to forget Jandhyala in the writing department.
Ashwani Dutt, the owner of Vyjayanthi Movies was the only person who could be ready for such high budget Cinema, which is based on a mythological fiction story. What really happened after the film released, is known to every Telugu Cinema viewer without any doubt at all!
Coming to the very brief story line of the film- The movie revolves around the good natured Hero Raju (Chiranjeevi) who is a tourist guide in Kondaveedu area of AP. He is good because he has the courage to fight bad happenings around him, and he looks after a group of orphan kids and takes proper care of them in every way possible. Sounds like the typical hero of Telugu Cinema? Yes. But Chiranjeevi made sure that he brought style, grace as well as tremendous unique nature to this particular character he adorned!
After the title score speaks volumes of grandeur about how huge the film is going to impact the viewer, the hero introduction song arrives immediately (True to the Commercial Cinema formula!) . But the hero Raju does not sing about how great his values are in life, but he speaks about the history of the place – true to his tourist guide profession! Shot aesthetically in Borra Caves, near Vishakapatnam area, the song is visually, musically and lyrically appealing! We get to see Baby Shamili (of Mani Ratnam’s Anjali fame) and her elder sister Shalini (Who later became a top actress in Tamil cinema) prominently in the kid group who live with Raju. It is really fascinating to see their involvement in helping out Raju to enact the Historic Story of the place!
Watch the wonderful song below!
Raghavendra Rao immediately shows one of the villains in the film Rami Reddy – to be pretty direct!! Apparently the villains plan to remove a Hanuman statue (Raju and the kids are huge devotees of Hanuman statue in the Kondaveedu town) for some financial gain. The surprise awaits (both for the viewer as well as the villains) to see Raju dressed up in Hanuman attire, coming and fighting over these people to stop the wrong happenings! The fight was entertainingly picturized, with some cool background score bits to look for. It is unbelievable that ILaiyaraaja could give such background scores even at a pure commercial cinema aspect- in such musical rich manner!
While this fight goes on, Shalini from the kids group injures herself very badly that she gets paralyzed to walk. Raju gets very upset to know that and cannot digest the news that she has to depend on crutches all her life. But being an optimistic person at heart, he continues to search for any other methods of treatment.
An ayurvedic sage comes as an answer to his prayers and advises Raju that a particular plant specimen can be of help in this cure. The sage also advises it is impossible to get that plant as the place is in Manasa Sarovar- a dangerously steep place in the Himalayan Mountain range.
Raju, being true to his heroic self decides to go for the dangerously fatal journey- leading to worry of the kids group. They get so worried and just because of that they won’t give up. They start singing a great devotional song “Jai Chiranjeeva” near their favourite Hanuman Statue, and we get to see the scenes of hardships which Raju is facing to reach the place in the song.
On the other hand, it is now time to introduce the female protagonist of the film- Indraja (Sridevi), the daughter of Lord of Heavens, Indra (As per Hindu Mythology). She happens to visit her father bringing on a request to visit Planet Earth, as she heard so many wonderful things about the place. Though her father first feels apprehensive in sending her to Planet Earth, he eventually agrees her daughter’s wish.
Absolutely delighted with her father’s permission, Indraja along with her friends head towards Planet Earth- and Manasa Sarovar in particular! This event exactly collides with Raju’s successful reach to the destination and it so happens that- both Raju and Indraja are in awe looking at the amazing place at the same time! The background score speaks mountains about how they feel looking at the picturesque and flawless mountain caps, and the landscape in front of them.
Yes…you have guessed it right! It is now time for a wonderful song “Andaalalo” which Indraja starts off singing in reaction to how beautiful the place looks. Raju sings the same tune witha different awe and starts collecting the plant specimen for which he did this risk for. Sridevi looks undoubtedly like an angel from heavens in this song, and Chiranjeevi is his usual cool self- as the courageous hero with the tremendous screen presence!
After a very happy trip to Planet Earth and apparently due to time constraints, Indraja heads back to the Heavens. She tries to enter the main gates of Heavens but she is unable to get in. Her father gets really worried seeing this and asks the advice of Vishwamitra and Naarada who are present along. Indraja loses her ring Manasa Sarovar where they went for the tour and says quite confidently to her father that she will get the ring back within no time, which is like a lifeline for her entry to Heavens, and possesses all the powers the divine people have. She immediately realizes watching Raju at the Manasa Sarovar area and expresses her doubt that he could have taken the ring.
Vishwamitra advises Indraja to be back as soon as possible and she has to finish the task right before Karthika Pournami (an auspicious full Moon day-according to Hindu Calendar). If not, she would lose all her powers and will be left as a normal human being back in Planet Earth.
Indraja, being quite confident doesn’t think it is a problem at all. Little does she know, how complex, problematic, and challenging is to get a task done in our Earth, that too from our hero Raju!
The best entertaining part is yet to come in part 2 of this post…
We have come a long way in the journey of discovering and unleashing the best of Telugu Cinema in Marapuraani Chitralu. Taking a dip in the hilarious comedy of Jandhyala to begin with, the roads turned to Arts and Social Message films from K.Vishwanath, and an interesting turn with adventure (Kshana Kshanam) and a tinge of eternal love story (Geethanjali) and eventually at a humanity and philosophical juncture with Aa Naluguru..which is the path next?
Why do we watch a film?What is the most enthralling and exciting aspect of a film? While some watch a film to escape the ground realities and have fun for nearly 3 hours of its runtime..few watch for the technical aspects, subject and the performances of the actors. Commercial Cinema especially in Telugu taught the audience to think beyond the sentiments, and broke all the norms which were prevailing till a point of time (Such as Brother-Sister sentiment, weeping sequences, anti climax, tragedy and so on!) and at the same time followed some norms too! (Hero Introduction song, a pathbreaking fight, a foot tapping dance number etc!)..
Marapuraani Chitralu would surely become incomplete without the exploration of the Commercial Cinema which turned the Telugu Cinema scenario..and entertained the audience irrespective of the timeline present.. When such commercial cinema of 80s-90s is watched now..they are still as entertaining as they could be then..which brings them to the unforgettable category!
Commercial Telugu Cinema introduced us to International heroes such as Rambo, James Bond, and pop stars such as Michael Jackson which did so much good (in most sense) for the growing up kids of late 70s-early 80s era..The best aspect was that, the touch of nativity was added to these heroes (Without directly copying form the original-this comes to another debate anyway!).
Another important influence which the Commercial Telugu Cinema made was the fashion sense through the main protagonists. During the era of closely knitted atmosphere with not much of globalization, it got the advent of Jeans, Action Shoes,International dressing brands as well as new electronic gadgets to the Andhra Pradesh household!
Commercial Telugu Cinema expanded the financial potential of Telugu Cinema, at the same time maintaining the technical values, and the needful for making movies, thereby making Telugu Films eternal in every sense..
Stay tuned for the new dimension now in Marapuraani Chitralu- The Commercial Telugu Cinema!