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Making of a classic

manjula kolanu
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book Vijay Chandar reminisces over his experiences in making ‘Karunamayudu’

Of late, film makers are documenting the making of their films, especially the more prominent ones. Thirty five years after Karunamayudu the film on Jesus Christ was filmed, Vijay Chandar who enacted the role of Christ and also produced the film, has realeased a book Nenu - Naa Karunmayudu to narrate his experiences during the making of the classic .

Besides giving us an insight into Vijay Chandar’s struggle to produce the movie, the book provides visual appeal with still from the film. Having acted as a villain in until then, Vijay Chandra’s decision to don the role of Christ in what was originally titled as ‘Raraju Christu’, was seen as suicidal by many in the industry. Setting aside all reservations about the film, Vijay Chandar saw the role as an opportunity to be a ‘hero’ in a mythological film, one that he hoped would earn him popularity the way mythological roles of Krishna and Rama had helped NTR.

However, what started as an acting assignment turned into a production effort after the original filmmakers abandoned ‘Raraju Christu’. By then Vijay Chandar had announced, at a press conference, his decision not to act in any social movie till that film was complete. This decision added to his professional and financial woes. With little financial backing to depend upon from family and friends, he resorted to other work to make money that could be pumped back into the film. He set up a business to export fabric; that helped shore up revenues. Again he faced a setback when material worth Rs. 2 lakhs was rejected. Using this as an opportunity, Vijay Chandar used that unsold material to design costumes for the film, even cutting the fabric himself to cut costs. At one stage he even had the period sets, costumes, hundreds of technicians and actors ready to begin work on location, but no money to make the film.

Meanwhile he had reworked the story and screenplay and changed the title to Karunamayudu, with the help of Amruthavani unit, which also went on help secure loans. Vijay Chandar acknowledges that only his own spiritual connection with Christ and the moral, administrative and some financial support from his friend Chittibabu and others from abroad helped complete the film. Karunamayudu also facedscepticism from distributors and exhibitors. However it went on to become a huge hit, running over 200 days all over the State, and in all the 14 Indian languages it got dubbed in. That put paid to critics who claimed that a largely Hindu nation would not watch a movie on the life of Christ.

Vijay Chandar also reveals spiritual moments and miracles that he personally experienced during the making; thus justifying the title of the book Nenu - Na Karunamayudu (Me and My Karunamayudu)

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