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maTTilOa maanikyaalu
best movies, yet box office failures

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by Srinivas Kanchibhotla

Here is the series that throws light on some of the box-office failures that deserve to be ranked as some of the best movies of Telugu industry. With it, want to highlight the efforts that went into the making of the movie, so that our current generation would never ever forget these long and forgotten gems.


The more he is rejected, the more he becomes resolute. The more he is hated for his guts, the more pronounced his love becomes towards her. The more the object of his affection moves away from him, the more he tries to move closer to it. The different phases of this hate-love transition had been dealt to death over the years and the few that earned and deserved their places in our memory shelves are ironically the ones whose endings do not conform with the 'All is well that ends well' quote. These characters draw us into their grief allowing us to glimpse their pain - the cause and the affect, and empathize with them in their eternal struggle. Hatred turns into interest, interest morphs into liking, liking merges with love, love becomes obsession, obsession flows with worship, worship joins devotion and devotion leads to his salvation.

Stepping away from the comedic route that he was wildly successful at (praeminchu-peLLaaDu, ladies tailor), Vamsi challenges himself on convincing the audience of maharshi's true intentions and the severity of his love that borders on obsession and madness. The audience becomes a mute spectator to the proceedings while maharshi spirals down the slope of self-destruction, descending into depths of pathos, all in the name of the person, who could not bear more ill-will and bitter grudge towards him. Vamsi takes up a lost cause and ends up on the winning side, when an unsympathetic character ends up having the entire audience on his side. Maharshi knows the difference right and wrong, Maharshi is aware of the traditions that bind people in the trust of marriage, Maharshi recognizes the fact this is not movie love, when the heroine kisses hard on the same cheek that she slapped hard a few scenes before. It is this grounding in reality of Maharshi's sensibility that makes his plight plausible and his heart-rending realistic. Vamsi does not take advantage of the fact that Maharshi is brought up in a house that is devoid of any love and when his cries for love echo eerily among the walls of silence and desertion.

Contrast Maharshi's obsessive devotion to the destructive obsession of Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan's character) in Darr. Though both the characters are deep seated in the blinding affection towards their lady-love, though both of them ultimately seek the affection and the association of their corresponding partners, it is Maharshi who endears himself more to the appealing subject (Suchitra and the audience alike) than Rahul, for the reason that Maharshi's love transcends physicality, Maharshi's devotion is towards developing his own sense of caring and Maharshi's obsession is aimed at conquering his own lovelornness (praema raahityamu). The script, by Vemuri Satyanarayana (a regular in 'Sravanthi' Ravi Kishore's team), Tanikella Bharani and Vamsi, peppers goodness around Maharshi, in the form of Ramana (portrayed with utmost conviction by C.V.L.Narasimha Rao), Tilak (Krishna Bhagavan (Gopichand in April 1 viDudala)) and observes Maharshi's gradual transformation from a hothead to one who is head over heels with Suchitra.

Dialogues by Tanikella Bharani are amazingly refreshing, touching and heart-rending all at the same time. ee vungaram lO aem podagaalO teliyalaeduraa - vajram podagaalO, pagaDam podagaalO. andukanae naa gunDeni poDigaanu raa laments Maharshi when he buys presents to his already married lady-love. oka manishi meeda dwaesham, paga puTTaneduku kaaraNaalu unTaayi kaani, praema puTTaneduku kaaraNaalu aemee unDavanukunTaa muses Ramana when asked why would anybody love a particular somebody. The dialogue style - pithy, to the point and striking sentimentality, eerily reminds of the current Trivikram's style of character introspections and characteristic motivations. The points on the paper aside, it is the performances on the screen by the debutants 'Maharshi' Raghava, C.V.L (Ramana) and Krishna Bhagavan (Tilak) (ably supported by Santipriya (or Nishanti or Bhanupriya's sister) as Suchitra striking her single note of hatred towards Maharshi) of complementing attitudes, enacted competently, completing the circle of the love in their own ways - Maharshi through his unrequited love, Ramana through his sacrificial devotion towards his friendship and Tilak as the touchstone of understanding and caring towards a fellow human-being.

The sweetest of songs are those that reflect our saddest of thoughts quipped a love-lost poet. Give him the most tragic of situations, Illayaraja would come up with the best of his compositions - broken (background) and chained (songs). When the trio of Vamsi, Hari Anumolu (and sometimes M.V.Raghu his regular lensmen) and Anil Malnad (his regular editor) come up with aesthetic silences, Illayaraja steps in to fill in the emotional blanks making it a true visual symphony. The songs also depict Maharshi's gradual progression (or descension) into obsession and lunacy from arrogance and foolhardiness - Sahasam naa patham (by sirivennela), Oorvasi groubha (in Sanskrit by Jonnavittula), Sumam prati sumam (Jonnavittula), maaTa raani mounamidi (Nayani Kirshnamurthy).

In all Maharshi arguably remained Vamsi's best work till date - his ultimate goal, his unending struggle and his uncompromising penance for the unattainable result.

praema pandem lO praNaalu paNam gaa peTTina vaaDu maharshi
praema kOsamayi tapincipOyaevaadu maharshi
manasu tapassu lO tana tanavunae arpincinavaaDu maharshi
manasunae ODi manishi gaa gelinca vaaDu maharshi

On a side note, listen to Gulzar's description of all these different stages of love above in a single song for Dil se in 'Satrangi Re'. And do not forget to catch Poori Jagannath 'memorable' performance as one of Maharshi's friends in the few college campus scenes.

Author's Note - More on Vamsi's visual style of film-making in the upcoming 'velugu - neeDalu : Vamsi' series.


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