Driven by social issues

Still from Mounaporatam  

Mohan Gandhi Anne is a native of Vijayawada but he loves Visakhapatnam . The director calls it a “paddathi gkala vooru” and has shot most of his movies there. Now leading a peaceful, retired life in Hyderabad, he spends time shuttling between here and the USA where his son and daughter live. He was known as an auteur whose forte lay in making movies with contemporary social issues. His repertoire reveals social awareness, rebellious characters, a proper and a balanced dose of entertainment — he dished it all out like an experienced cook. Mohan Gandhi does not watch films anymore though he has given all his best years to Telugu cinema industry.

Mouna Poratam (1989)

Banner: Usha Kiron Movies

Cast: Vinod Kumar, Yamuna

The subject was brought to light by a newspaper report that took place 40 km from a tribal village in Sambhalpur, Orissa. Sabitha who was wronged, decided to teach the son of a feudal lord a lesson and did a mouna poratam for 13 months which she began eight days after delivering a baby. She sat right in front of his house, braved the heat and rain and ate whatever people gave her. Ramoji Rao too contributed to the story. Me, writer Volga and Sainath went to interview her. She was short, lived in a small hut, but there was no anxiety on her face, only determination. The moment she saw us she did namaskaram and I was thrilled at her culture. I wanted to see that man’s house but people were scared to show; Sabitha took us there and showed it from a distance. Her face was serene, peaceful and she had striking features. We invited her to see the climax of the film and she came. Ramoji Rao helped her financially but the notable aspect was after the film released hundreds of women revolted against similar incidents.

People’s Encounter (1991)

Banner: Usha Kiron Movies

Cast: Vinod Kumar, Bhanupriya

This film showed how a common man was getting crushed among naxalites, police and politicians; how the tribals became naxals and the unholy nexus between cops and politicians. This concept too was triggered by a newspaper report. We explored the agency areas and wanted to reflect the lifestyle of the tribes. We shot some portion in the Assembly area. It was December; Section 144 was on and the shoot was cancelled. A crime reporter told us that a prayer hall was being torched in Shankarpally and I thought I could use some live footage for the film and we immediately left for the spot. We masqueraded as the Press but when we went there I felt the scene was not big enough to be included in a movie. We however loaded the camera and we saw people coming, screaming, holding flags and throwing stones at the police who were coming from the opposite direction. We were between them; the cinematographer was doing his job. In a minute the cops were injured as the stone pelting increased and the former opened fire. A kid was shot and he collapsed beside us with a flag in his hand. The reporter screamed “Run” and pushed all of us and the camera into the car and we left the place. We used the shot of the kid who fell to the bullets in the film. We weren’t scared at the location but we started feeling fear after we reached the hotel.

Ma Aayana Bangaram (1997)

Banner: Eetaram Pictures

Cast: Rajashekar, Soundarya

Soundarya was a busy artiste those days and since I knew her father, and she also liked the script she adjusted her dates for the film. The shooting took place in Tanuku and during the third schedule; a storm spoilt the mood of the film. It began at 8 pm when we were supposed to commence the shoot at 9pm. It was a real house, and the tiles blew away; within minutes the whole place turned dark. We were on the outskirts of the village and the storm showed no signs of abating. We wanted to send Soundarya, Nirmalamma and Rajashekar back to Tanuku but the rain lashed till 3 am the next day. The trees were obstructing the path, but we managed to walk 13kms and reached Tanuku. The hotel room was filled with leaves, stems and dust that entered through the windows. My wife sent her brother to look for me but since all vehicles were stopped at Eluru, he came walking 40 kms. But when the film released and became a success, we forgot all those painful memories.

Kartavyam (1990)

Banner: Sri Surya Movies

Cast: Vijayashanti

Kiran Bedi came for the opening as the film was inspired by her life. It was about showing that a system would be efficient if a woman becomes a police officer. After the completion of six reels, Vijayashanti got anxious as people fed her all sorts of stories about the movie not shaping up as expected. I had to put her fears to rest and then she worked hard for 80 days with dedication. We were shooting in Jagadamba Centre, Vizag on the festival day, January13. At 1 p.m and there was a posse of cops to control the crowd. We installed a crane and suddenly a 25-year-old onlooker came and stood under the crane and was hit by a rod. He was bleeding but got scared and ran awayWe immediately shifted the location. The film became a huge hit and changed Vijayashanti’s status and career.

Police Brothers (1992)

Banner: Pratap Art Pictures

Cast: Vinod Kumar, Roja

This is Posani Krishna Murali’s first film and I interacted a lot with cops for inputs for this story. As usual I had a problem, but this time when the first copy was getting ready. There was a newspaper report that the police were selling alcohol. The panel in the censor board objected to the scene and asked me to chop a song because it showed such visuals. The distributors said if the song is deleted they would not buy the movie. Luckily a panel member, a journalist, said he had reported the news and there should be no objection. Ultimately the film did very well in Nizam area.

(This fortnightly column features the five best works as shared by the maestros of the industry)

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 8:02:42 AM |

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