Ooty, Love, Philosophy and Life- Geethanjali Part 1

After a heavy yet thought provoking departure from the movie Sagara Sangamam, it is now time to take a journey to Ooty (A prominent Hill Station in South India) in the late 80s Era! But the phrases used as title of this post look quite disjoint when looked at the first place! But thanks to ace director Mani Ratnam, excellent director of Photography P.C.Sreeram, Maestro ILaiyaraaja, Lyricist Veturi, and the whole team of Geethanjali, these words sure got a new meaning for the Telugu Cinema Film Goer.

It is always said that life will look to us the way we perceive it to be. Why some people , despite having all the good abilities feel they are not worth it? And some people, though having certain disabilities, yet succeed in getting the best out of life?

Why even most knowledgeable people in the area of psychology say again and again that life is what we think it to be? (Crux of most Positive Attitude and Wellness books)

Does the luck factor come here (As some people feel all their lives) that certain good things happen to only the “gifted” individuals?

When in troubles and problems, why does life look so much like a burden and we tend to live it like a “Slip Away?”

Many authors (Old as well as Modern) spent years researching on the same and write countless books on “How to lead a fulfilling life?”.  The books contain numerous examples, points, tabular columns and many such things which act as guide for the reader to develop a better attitude towards life. But the ultimate point comes to that– Living totally in the present can definitely lead to a happier and fulfilling life.

Simple reason for that being- most of worries, troubles and tensions come from the dreading thought that something bad “might” happen in near future, or feeling guilty, upset, angry over something bad which has already happened in the past..But what if leading life just as this particular moment is in our hands? Then the burden looks smaller, and mind feels lighter..this is the ultimate philosophy of happy living! (Courtesy taken from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now: This helped many readers about how to live a happier life!)

Wait a minute, the reader  should be thinking  “What is going on? As I come to read about best of Telugu Cinema, I am given info about psychology books, wellness and living?”

In short, I was trying to make the main point which the film Geethanjali deals on.

With respect to the story, Geethanjali is quite simple and straightforward. On one side you have the hero Prakash (Nagarjuna) , who has one perception towards life, and on the other side there is Geethanjali (Girija Shettar’s best debut) , who thinks exactly opposite of what Prakash thinks. Things change phenomenally when Prakash understands the worth of Geetha’s opinion towards life and that is how the Love Story begins! It sure looks like a second or third love story movie which is the most favourite topic  of Telugu Cinema right from the time of Devadas to the latest movie Ishq..but there is something which makes Geethanjali the path breaker in Love Stories-right from the photography to the characterization and you name it!

Doesn’t this need more explanation? Here it begins!

The movie begins with a convocation event in a college where a lady professor presides over to the students.  As she continues with her speech about how responsible today’s youth (Of the time of this film’s release :1989!), the scenes drift to a bunch of students who are late for the event doing all the things which professors would surely disapprove of! Let it be smoking, drinking or Eve teasing!  Mani Ratnam shows the reality of life about how students really think on these things!

We get to see an abrupt entry of the Hero Prakash as his name is called in convocation . The first look of the hero is not his stylish costume or trying to teach a lesson to these wrong doer student group! We see Prakash smoking in secret and trying to finish the cigarette so that he can go for collecting the degree! The viewer immediately gets an idea what sort of person Prakash really is- Troublemaker, Light Hearted and full of vigor!

I always wonder how can one frame in a film convey so much about the character just through the expressions and the camera taking!

Quite obviously, the lady professor gets the tobacco smell from Prakash while handling over the degree. Just as we come to a final conclusion about Prakash’s attitude, he says “I Love You!” to the professor as she honours him with the medal!

Quite to the formula of Telugu Movies, the introduction song of the hero arrives in the form of “Jagada Jagada” for the viewer! How can an unconventional director like Mani Ratnam follow the regular formula this way? He did follow it but he broke the rules of introduction song style as well!

The song is brilliantly picturized with Prakash having a party time with his friends, and at the same time not forgetting to tell the audience about his nature! The song looks quite grand and racy (Right to the attitude of Prakash) with cars and explosions in the background. Veturi does a phenomenal job in explaining about Philosophy of life in simple Telugu words such as :

“Nede Raa Neeku Nesthamu Repe Ledhu..Ninnante Nindu Sunnara Raane Raadhu”

“This day is your friend..there is no tomorrow..yesterday is zero, will never come back!”

“Padanee Ra virigi aakasam..vidiponi bhoomi ee kshanam..maa pata saagenule”

“Let the sky break and fall down..let the Ground separate into two at this moment..our song will continue!”

These words look quite revolutionary and lively to hear in a party song of college graduates! Not to forget the graceful and cool appearance of Silk Smitha in the song too! She doesn’t have much to dance or perform in this song, but her presence is surely felt in it!

Watch the thunderous song below for sheer pleasure!

Just as the song comes to an end, and the viewer gets all energized with it, Prakash meets with an accident which leads to a sudden shock!

The title score begins now, with Prakash getting hospitalized and undergoing various medical tests. The music explains the soul and beauty of life as well as the film. I always felt the music actually talks to the listener, saying that aggressive thoughts always do not work, as life can turn upside down at any point of time! Right with the premonition like music shows, Prakash gets diagnosed by Bone Marrow Cancer by the time the titles end!

Prakash gets shattered by the news and feels like there is nothing left in his life from then. Despite having such positive thoughts before, knowing about a fatal disease shakes his world.  He feels helpless and trapped with the sadness in his family and their sympathy towards him. After going through lot of thought process about the same, he finally decides to go on tour to some peaceful place, where he wouldn’t be recognized by anyone as a patient but can live his life.

The situation which Prakash is in looks so real to life and how people react when a shocking incident happens to them. The immediate reaction one gets is to escape the hard reality of life and go to some place- hoping to find peace and solace in return. The situation for a person may not be cancer or really fatal, but sad to see these days that even for trivial problems, people feel depressed and start losing hope in life!

Though Prakash’s parents first find it hard to send him alone, after hearing repeated pleas of Prakash to set him free make them realize the mental trauma (More than the pain of illness) and agree for his trip to a place of his choice.

The place turns out to be Ooty, thankfully not only to Prakash but also for the viewer, for the visual wonders it offers and the serenity which was so aptly needed for this film!

Now, it is time to see the female protagonist of the film, Geethanjali. The film is named after her, hence we can understand the importance of her role in it! She is shown breathtakingly beautiful in dancing at her wits end, in Ooty rains! Her song “Jallantha” does not speak about any Philosophy or any ideology unlike Prakash’s. It is simply about the beauty of rain and how wonderful nature looks at every point in the day!

The best part of Jallantha song (for me) is where Geetha spots an old gentleman, being merry at the rainfall on the road. She immediately hurries towards him and starts dancing with him as if there is no tomorrow! The sequence is so uplifting and wonderful that one can definitely watch it again and again!

Trivia: The shot of Geethanjali dancing, when horses going around are shown has become the most influential style of song-making during those days! I was told that Chiranjeevi particularly asked his director to get a similar shot in his song “Subhalekha” from Kondaveeti Donga (Which released later). The use of horses in background for a song was done even in songs like “Poddhunne Puttindhi” from Shatruvu as well. Such was the influence of the one and only straight Telugu film of Mani Ratnam! Ram Gopal Varma also got influenced by the same shot, which he used in one of the songs for his popular film Kshana Kshanam later!

Even the shot of Geetha dancing with an old Gentleman was inspired for “Om Namo Nama” from Surya IPS, where the hero and heroine dance with a tribal guy in the second interlude yet again! Similar scene is shown even in Subhalekha Rasukunna discussed above! Incidentally the music scored for both the songs is also by Maestro ILaiyaraaja!

It is really amazing to see how certain shots influence a generation of film makers, for the beautiful visual appeal it gives!

It would be considered as a great mistake if I wouldn’t include the video link of the song after so much of discussion!

What has Geetha, a happy go lucky girl and dancing all over Ooty in the first song itself, got to do with Prakash, a dejected individual now?

To be continued in Part 2..

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