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…