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Post Mortem - Manmadhudu by K Vijaya Bhaskar
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What is this post mortem? is starting this exclusive, explosive and exciting section called Postmortem, where we conduct a postmortem of the latest releases. We shall be discussing and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the movies with their respective directors as to why those films have become hits/flops. We request the directors to give us their honest and frank opinions.
Manmadhudu by K Vijaya Bhaskar

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The formation of story:

The Inspiration for this film is Mr. Nagarjuna. When we agreed upon making a film with Nagarjuna as hero, we were searching for all kinds of areas to show him in a different way. He already has very good action films and romantic films in his kitty. Nagarjuna is basically a romantic looking man and making a film with him and having no romance in it does not make any sense. So Trivikram (story writer) and I sat together for discussions. We created a very new backdrop - that is of an ad agency. Without going in to finer details of ad agencies, we adapted whatever is necessary for the storyline.

In general, hero, in most of the movies, likes girls. But in this movie we have shown the hero as a women hater. To substantiate that, we developed a sub plot. If we could convince audience that there is a reason for the hero to hate women, half of our job would be done.

Then we filled up the office of the hero with women employees. The variation is that hero hates women, but still has to work with them. By creating such a situation, we can derive lot of fun. We developed a female character who is at par with hero's character. She commands him at times. That's how heroine's character was born. She enters hero's office as an assistant manager and at a later point she is promoted to a better position than that of hero. Then there would 'tit for tat' kind of fun. At that point, we needed a heroine who can match the charm and elegance of Nagarjuna. And Sonali Bendre was a natural choice. People should believe that she could be the boss of Nagarjuna.

Having laid a perfect foundation, all we had to create were some feelings between the hero and the heroine though they are not in good terms. So we needed to do something where both of them came closer. Since it is an advertising agency, we sent them to abroad so that they could get closer. It gives an opportunity for both of them to spend some time in a new place. Then we created a small ignition in the heart of the hero makikng him realize that she is not as bad as he thinks and she probably likes him too. But she does not have any feelings for him. To make sure that she does not have any feelings for him, we need to create a problem for her. That's why we went back to the first half and initiated the engagement thread for the heroine. When hero comes to know that heroine is already engaged, he gets disappointed. When hero is about to change the feeling of hatred towards women, he is again cheated because of the heroine. But his hatred towards entire women community vanishes and now he is angry only with heroine. When hero does not come to office, heroine goes to his house to know the reason. That is where we created some ignition in the heart of the heroine. She senses that he might be in love with her. Her feeling is confirmed when hero utters some words to heroine when she goes to give him the wedding card. During the travel, she realizes that he is in love with her and she is also in love with him. Then she calls him up and opens out to him.

Hero comes to the office and moves closely with all the other girls in the office just to humiliate the heroine and to create jealousy in her. Though, hero changes his stance towards women in three phases, there is always smoothness in the way the story is narrated so that audience feel it's natural.

Many people commented about the climax that it's very simple. If I put a fight in the climax then it would become a regular film. There is no story after hero and heroine meets in the climax. That's why I ended the film there. Since we did not reveal the mike story to the heroine, we added the first night scene where hero tells about his mike experiment to the heroine. If I had to extend the film, I had to show the bridegroom to whom heroine is supposed to get married too by bringing in that character. The protagonist of the film is hero and his love succeeded. Then why should I add unnecessary scenes? Even now I feel that the climax we had for Manmadhudu is correct. If I had created a climax the way you expected, you would come to me and say that the climax is very predictable.

Making of the film:

Annapurna studios is one of the best production houses. Supriya garu did her best work for the film. Nagarjuna is very disciplined and committed. He slipped into character in no time. He worked hard to make sure that he looks at least 10 years younger. He got into skin of the character. His dialogues and songs in the film are very tender.

There are lot of experiments made in the lyrics. I have to commend anna Seetarama Sastry garu for that. He wrote beautiful lyrics on girl in Nuvvu Naaku Nachav with 'O Navvu Chaalu'. In this film, 'Nenu nenuga lene' is about the feelings hero gets after seeing the girl. Here Sirivennela garu did not describe the beauty of girl or the smartness of the boy. He just wrote lyrics about the feelings of the hero.

Nagarjuna played the role of a rich guy. Hence he wanted him to sound prudish. But at the same time, he is very tender at his heart. The love track between Anshu and Nagarjuna is very tender and soft. All the incidents that happen between them are very real and can be felt by all the lovers. There is sweetness in that adolescence and everybody would go through it.

I have to tell you a small incident about the film. There is a scene in which Nagarjuna grabs Anshu in his room. The first shot of that scene did not come well. Then I told Anshu that when Nagarjuna grabs her, unless she smiles and enjoys the feeling, it would look as if he was trying to molest her. I told her that her face should show that enjoyment of being grabbed by her lover. I felt embarrassed while explaining that scene to her.

Actually this is a polished film and I had only two scenes where I could elevate the mass image of Nagarjuna. First scene is the one where he takes the heroine away from her engagement and the second scene is where he stops the marriage of his colleague and makes her get married to the guy of her choice.

Other than the above mentioned scenes, I did not have a chance to raise the tempers of the masses. In addition to that, the girls in hero's office would be scolding him like 'sachinoda' etc. Nagarjuna is such a noble man. He never complained about other characters calling him like that. Hats off to Nagarjuna. He gives so much freedom to the director and he never interferes. If your hero gives that much freedom, you feel more responsible. 90% of the contribution for Manmadhudu is given by Nagarjuna and my share of contribution is only 10% to the film. If Nagarjuna had not performed the way he was supposed to, all our efforts would have gone in the drain. What a style and elegance Nagarjuna has! He carried the entire film on his shoulders. That's why I call 'Manmadhudu' as one man show by Nagarjuna. I am very much pleased with Nagarjuna for his performance.

Troubles faced during the making of the film:

We did not have any internal troubles. But we had faced some unforeseen problems. When we visited Austria for shooting the songs, it rained cats and dogs for two days. All of us had to stay idle in the hotel. The next hurdle was in Paris for getting permission to shoot on the Eiffel Tower. After WTC tragedy, no tall structure was given for shooting. We were told that we could shoot in front of the Tower, but not on the Tower. I told Nagarjuna that I don't mind even shooting those scenes with handy cam since those scenes are vital for the film. I don't know what troubles Nagarjuna has taken but he ultimately got the permission to shoot on the Eiffel Tower. I was, later, told that 'Manmadhudu' is the first Indian film to be shot on the Eiffel Tower. Eiffel tower was shown as the backdrop in many Indian movies, but none of the Indian producers shot the film inside the tower.

Let me explain my vision for the shots taken on Eiffel Tower.

1.Hero and heroine run like kids towards Eiffel Tower with hope.
2.They converse on the Eiffel Tower and get disappointed.
3.Hero and heroine depart with disappointment in different directions while getting down the tower.

We have taken the departing shot in natural light by waiting till the dusk time.

Then we went to Godari districts to shoot the climax. In the climax of the film, Nagarjuna jumps into the river. That river is a murky one and we do not know what the depth is. Nagarjuna asked us to show where he is supposed to jump. The height from which Nagarjuna had to jump should be equivalent to the depth of the river. We got hold of a lad who is an expert at it. He decided upon one place. He showed us by jumping himself. Before jumping, Nagarjuna told me that he is going to stay in side water for some effect so that people would get tensed. And Nagarjuna stayed inside the water after the jump. But the lad, who showed us the spot, became nervous that Nagarjuna did not come out and he also jumped into the water to look for Nagarjuna. That's why we had to cut the scene. Otherwise, we would have had a lengthier scene than what was shown.

Comments made after the release

After the release of the film, some people started saying that it's a class film and it won't work well with masses. I don't believe those statements. Generally, cinema pundits consider the people from village as crude. If one says that village crowds are masses, it's like insulting them. I come from a village too (Avanigadda). Every human being has emotions and feelings and all the films that tickle those emotions and feelings of movie lovers definitely become hits. Checkout Sankarabharanam. Do you think it's a class film? It was watched by all the people. I feel that all my films should have a dignity and standard. Films should be logical and convincing.

My team:

Trivikram (Story/Dialogue Writer): He has talent in abundance. You just have to tap it. He is like the well with unlimited water. It depends on how much you extract from him. Trivikram has written fantastic dialogues. The most matured dialogue in this film is …..

"Dooram nundi aakasam bhoomi kalustunnatlu kanabadutundi. Adi abhaddam.
Mana out house kitiki nundi valla bungalow kanipistundi. Adi kooda abaddam

Sameer Reddy (Cinematography): He is very fast in his taking. Generally people fear that quality would take a backseat, if one does his work so fast. But Sameer is one of the best. The way he put the blocks, the way he handles the camera is too good.

Devi SriPrasad (Music): For the first time I was working with Devi Sri Prasad. He is very young boy. I told him in the beginning that I have listened to his earlier songs and that Manmadhudu is a tender film. He brought out a lot of melody in the songs. He is very talented and passionate. He proved that he could also do melodious music at that age.

Sirivennela (Lyric Writer): Anna Sirivennela did an experiment with 'Dont Marry' song. There are no charanams in that song. It has pallavi and katha. There is no meter for katha. We finished the shooting of film with this song!

Srinivasa Raju (Art Director): He did an excellent work for the office set. We have taken interesting ads from magazines and blown them up and placed them in the office with backlit. Supriya also played important role in Artwork. He also designed very authentic hotel set for 'Andamaina Bhamalu' song. Lots of people asked me about the hotel in which we shot that song.

Shankar has done the choreography for 'Nenu nenuga lene" song in Raj Kapoor style. That song should have some nostalgic feel to it, as it is a flashback song. The taking of the song should take us to the old classic look and I think Shankar was successful in bringing that out.

Raja Sekhar has done two masti songs in this film (Dont Marry and Andamaina Bhamalu). Raju Sundaram has done two songs shot in Austria (Naa Manasune and Gundello Emundo). The last song (Chelia Chelia) is done by me. Krishna Reddy did the dance portion for that song.

Srikar Prasad (Editor): Editor is the most important person in the making of any film. This film has lot of smoothness in narration (without any jerks). I liked the editing a lot. While directing the shot itself I have divisions in my mind about where to cut the film during the editing stage. Let me narrate you some examples about the brilliant work by Srikar Prasad

Shot 1: Tanikella Bharani says to Nagarjuna (in a wide shot where Nagarjuna and Tanikella are sitting opposite on a large table): "Lipstick aadavallaki sambhandinchinadiraa. Entra nuvvu lipstick moham eppudanna choosavantra?"
Shot 2: A very close shot where hero opens the lipstick

My editor Srikar Prasad is a magician at the editing table. He reads our mind so fast that he comes up with the result even before we complete our narration to him. His cutting is so smooth that it helped film to become a better film. There is a technical aspect of catching the right frame on editing table. Srikar Prasad mastered it. Let me give you some more examples.

Scene1: The scene where Anshu is drying the clothes and Nagarjuna teases her. Then she moves towards her house.
Scene2: She enters the kitchen.
Comments: The editing is so smooth that people feel as if she entered directly in to kitchen from the back yard. If editor did not catch the exact frame, that smoothness would not be found

Scene1: In the scene where Nagarjuna hides under the table of Sonali and she catches him. Then the girls working with Sonali move towards the left after saying 'Lets Go'.
Scene2: In the restaurant scene a bearer is walking from right to left when nag, Sonali and Tanikella were sitting on a table.
Comments: In both these scenes Sonali is seen sitting on a chair. But it appears as if the girls walking towards the left have transformed into bearer and the walk continues. These are very intricate details and only the best editors can perform these kinds of jobs.

Scene1: The hero feels tense about the secret mike and looks at his watch for the time.
Scene2: A wall clock is zoomed into the screen.
Comments: The audience feels as if the hero is looking into his wristwatch though a magnified wall clock is shown.

The audiences might not observe all these intricate things. But these things will definitely stimulate the viewers' attention and would have made them enjoy the beauty of the film.

The secret of success:

Sometimes we create interest among audience with dialogues and sometimes with a song and sometimes with a shot division. We should be able to punctuate the audience with the smooth change in the flow of narration. You need to catch the emotion with interesting things and keep them engaged to the screen and hold them till the end of the film. You should not give chance for the audience to prepare their own screenplay and do their own guess work.

Other Post Mortems:
Santosham by Dasarath
Jayam by Teja.

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