Narayana Murthy returns to take up cudgels for mass movements with his next venture, ‘People’s War’

Can you name any filmmaker other than him, who has been making films for over 25 years focused on a single agenda – the upliftment of the downtrodden? R. Naranaya Murthy is the only filmmaker in the country or for that matter anywhere in the filmmaking world, who has been producing films on burning social, economic and socio-political issues for the past 26 years without a break. Starting with the path-breaking movie, Ardharathri Swatantram (1986) to the soon to be released Peoples War (2012) he has produced 24 films under Sneha Chitra banner. To beat that, he is also the writer, lead actor and even music composer for his movies. Surely Reddy Narayana Murthy’s name deserves a mention in a Book of Records!

“For me happiness lies not in record books, but in the smiling faces of the have-nots, once they are rid of their plight. All I want to see is change towards the better in society,” says Narayana Murthy. When he started his film career he had said that if his “films bring even an iota of awareness among the people, the mission is fulfilled.” How does he feel now? Have his films brought such social awareness?

“Cinema being a powerful social tool, my films certainly gave a fillip to such movements. I am happy about it. For example, after watching Dandora, there was a strong agitation against arrack and other liquor trades and the cry for imposition of prohibition. Erra Sainyam gave a momentum for the rural folk to safeguard their land which resulted in bhoo poratam. The movie Oorumanadira helped farmers uprising against globalisation and allied issues. These are only few examples. People’s movements are taking my movies as an inspiration to take their struggle forward. Its not I who is telling you this, but those who lead such movements are talking about it. As I said, cinema being a powerful medium, it naturally has an impact. But I must confess that I derive inspiration to write these celluloid stories from life around, from the sufferings of the downtrodden. So it is complementary.”

From education, exploitation of masses, to the rural and urban issues he has touched every aspect of social ills in his earlier films, What is left to say in Peoples War?

“In the name of development, Governments are allotting fertile agricultural lands to corporate and vested investors. Take the coal-based thermal power plant at Sompeta against which there is an agitation going on and some people even sacrificed their lives. The Supreme Court gave a ruling that fertile agricultural lands should not be given for industries. There is a G.O. No.1107 in the case of Sompeta and a similar G.O No.1108 for Kakarapalli which has similar problems. With the Apex court’s ruling such orders of allotments should be abolished with immediate effect. Yet no such thing is happening. My film, Peoples Warrevolves around this aspect; its primary intention is to take this burning issue to the notice of Central and State Governments.

Srihari plays the protagonist Gunna Joga Rao, a real life character who fought in the Sompeta movement and Posani Krishna Murali is cast as the antagonist, who touts for the thermal plant. I play their father, Simhadri Naidu, an MLA who learns that through democracy he cannot do anything through democracy, so he resigns and joins the movement,” he says.

Srihari in a recent interview has lauded that Murthy could control a crowd of ten thousand in a village, single handed, while they were part of a shoot. How could he do that? “It is Sriharigaru’s graciousness that he said such kind words. I must also thank the crowd for their gracious behaviour. Perhaps it is all a result of my sincerity and that they understood,” Murthy says in all humility.

Like his themes, he also takes lyrics from people’s poets and for his current venture, Allam Veeranna, Goreti Venkanna, Suddala Ashok Teja, Jairaj, K. Venkanna and Dharmavaram Venkata Ramana wrote the lyrics rendered by ‘Vandemataram’ Srinivas, Mithra, Dharmavaram and Garividi Lakshmi. Needless to say, Murthy himself composed the songs that are already making waves in the audio market. “I can particularly mention two songs – the Assembly song on democracy written by Ashok Teja and the song on the greatness of Northern Andhra region that gave many stalwarts to the state,” he smiles.

That brings us back to the topic of record books. “Some in the teaching profession say that each of my films can be made into a text book for students (of history, economics and political science). What more accolades do I need?” he signs off.

Keywords: Tollywood