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Openletter to Okkadu Team
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31st January 2003
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Openletter to Okkadu Team

Hi there

Kudos to the heroes behind the movie Okkadu like Guna Sekher, M.S.Raju, Mani Sarma, Sekher Joseph, Ashok Kumar, Srikar Prasad, Sirivennela and Vijayan. The team has of course dished out the story through Mahesh, Bhumika, Prakash et al. The feeling after seeing the movie is that I have not seen such a movie in Telugu in years. Before I complete the sentence I also should add that I am neither a fan of Mahesh nor of his father.

Frankly, the review by Mr.Jeevi who awarded 4/5 made me to see the movie. By the time Mahesh and Bhumika appeared on the final frame of sitting pretty on the dusky evening atop Charminar, I was in awe with the movie the abovementioned gentlemen delivered to all of us. It is, I dare say is a worldclass product. This is despite the discrepancies in the storyline pointed out from some quarters. It is perhaps that Mr. Guna Sekhar is making a point after the failure of Mruga Raju. Guna, we cheer you man.

The story is simple and needs no recount. The lingering scene is that the young couple Mahesh, Bhoomika sitting on the top of Charminar making romance. Charminar was never shown in such variety of angles with so much of beauty. The background score, it is felt, was inspired by Titanic's theme music. It is superb too. People may tend to think that Charminar was a fake; so were the many scenes in Titanic and sauropods, tyrannosaurs of Jurassic Park and the Red Sea in Ten Commandments. The copulating duo of Leo and Kate in the forecastle deck of Titanic of the famous poster too is fake that it was shot in a small room without any paraphernalia of neither gigantic ship equipment nor sea around. The Red Sea of Ten Commandments was in fact an over sized tub. The dinosaurs of Jurassic Park are neither - it is simply a digital recreation.

Back to Okkadu, the sets of Charminar and the choices of photographic angles and variation of lighting in different scenes came off perfectly, like never before. Mahesh did it off. Of course, it is directorial brilliance to show him as a serious man that helped the film click. It is a personal point to Mahesh for future roles; smiling too much takes off the weight of his screen persona.

A small but important diversion! The Dec 15th Deccan Chronicle under Spice Girls has reported one unpleasant news bit. It is that the National Games Opening Ceremony was conducted with Chiranjeevi being 'neglected' in favor of third-rate heroines of Hindi cinema from Bombay like Namrata and Mahima et al for the coveted place in the VVIP enclosure along with Amitabh. Though we saw the Government of A.P making up for the faux pas on the Closing Ceremony by inviting all of Telugu stars and starlets to the high podium and the VVIP enclosure. It is disconcerting to imagine the plight of a big guy like Chiru, that too in our midst, by our A.P government on that day. It would not be out of place to place before all that soon after Vijetha, Chiru got similar taste of ill treatment from the 'National' film fraternity in Delhi; and Chiru was then forthright in calling such negligence/ill-treatment as B-A-D. By now grew in age and experience and swallowed the insult without making a point.

The correctives notwithstanding, the message for the Telugu film industry is that we are regional but not national. Thankfully we are miles ahead of Hindi films in variety, creativity and sensitivity to human issues and in whole lot of cinematic/technical aspects of filmmaking (Actor Surya thinks otherwise and I disagree with him totally).

Therefore the message is that they should start expanding the market pie of the industry by spreading our movies far and wide of our Bharat. And Okkadu is the right kind of film for such a launch. It is incidental that National Games incident brought the pertinent point here to our consideration. I am in fact waiting for Jhonny's dates to send this article. But having seen the brilliance of Okkadu, I advanced the suggestion for an all India launch of Okkadu for the larger viewership of NRTs who spread throughout the length and breadth of India. The viewership of Telugu films is partly present in places like Bombay and other places but showing Telugu films regularly with honor is not a well-entrenched tradition. An all India presence makes our field a force to reckon with. Our people in bigger town and cities makes the idea a clicking proposition. In an established all Indian market, our heroes could make waves in other cities and get all India recognition. The incident or no incident the idea to expand out side A.P is a serious business idea.

Official estimate is that Delhi has about 5-6 lakh Telugus. Bhiwandi, a city suburb in Bombay boast of one lakh Telugus; imagine of the whole of Bombay city. May be 10 lakh Telugus? If Vijayawada and Guntur with less than 10 lakh population are "A" grade centres, Bombay could be no less. The social profile of Telugus in Bombay is mixed from blue-chip executives to blue collar workers living since decades. Many of them would be thrilled to see a film of Okkadu and any other film of great class. Though Telugu movies are shown there with irregular/wrong show times and half-hearted, poor and mellowed publicity, it is time now to show our films with pride and ostentation. The Film Chamber or the relevant government body should start the process with purpose. To explain the point that not all Hindi films are released in our cities including in Hyderabad.

Many would not have heard of Ramgadh Ki Ramkali (a recent film). Only the marketable popular Hindi films are released here. So we can think of well run Telugu films for showing in bigger centers outside A.P. The tradition would take root in 2-3 years time. It needs a beginning. Any Telugu or lover of Telugu movies (Kannadiga brothers, for instance) would be happy to see a glossy poster/hoarding of Telugu heroes in prominent places in Delhi and Bombay, shoulder to shoulder with Hindi movie publicity.

A film like Okkadu seen on TV screen (DVDs, VCDs etc) does not appeal. Comedy, social and simple films seen on TV are okay. But films like Okkadu with such visual impact would be more enjoyable on celluloid. It would not be a service but a big business to exhibit hit films out side A.P. The necessary ingredients are 1.our people and their love for our films 2.publicity (bi OR tri-lingual) as many of the settlers are second or third generation Telugus who can not read or write the language but follow it by virtue of brought-up 3.marketability of a film. Some well timed jamborees of Telugu actors, if need be, encouraged to plant the Telugu movie culture out side A.P. Why not a Telugu Film festival showing the panorama of all time hits, including the popular hit movies?

We don't expect all films to be released out side A.P; because there is a mix of apples and potatoes!! It is a matter of long-term idea and an initial first step would be possible with a quality film. Okkadu fits the bill. It is for Guna and MS.Raju to decide.

The probable A Grade centers: Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta, Bangalore, Nagpur, Cuttack

(Madras and Coimbatore are not included as there is a fair chance of selling the remake rights of the original)

B Grade Centers: Pune, Surat, Nanded, Gulberga, Bhuvaneswar, Kharagpur, Berhampore, Varanasi, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Bhilai, Rourkela, Bokaro, Patna, Bilaspur, Raipur, Indore, Aurangabad, Chandrapur etc.,

There could be as many C Grade centers but the viability as a commercial center is doubtful. Anyway Film Chamber is the best institution to do an exercise scouting for the expansion of our films out side A.P. The best vehicle to spread outside A.P is by using mix of English and Telugu posters (could be some in Hindi, nothing wrong with that). In fact Urdu posters could be used in places like old city of HYD and Gulberga for a film like Okkadu.

Many people do know Telugu but does not move their foot towards theatres. No free shows, of course. For once the mandarins of film industry forget that the film market is within the borders of A.P state. A successful film like Okkadu can make waves in the above mentioned centers.

[email protected]

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