Cinema

Preview: Epic comes full circle

At the shoot of 'Sri Rama Rajyam'  

“He brings to this venerable genre (read mythology) of Indian cinema, historical care, visual flair and taste, a passion for magical special effects and a gift for spectacle. Many of the glories of the Thief of Bagdad and Fox Biblicals combine in the visual splendours of a film that at the same time reverently captures both the delight and the mysticism of the Ramayana,” wrote noted film critic David Robinson of The Times, London after watching Sita Kalyanam. He also hailed the film as “the biggest single treat of the London Film Festival (1978).”

Bapu also won such rave reviews when the film was screened at the Chicago Film Festival the same year. The duo Bapu-Ramana (it is difficult to separate his name from Ramana's) were passionately in love with Lord Rama and Ramayana and now they are backed by an equally passionate producer Yelamanchili Saibabu to bring to celluloid the Uttarakanda chapter of the great epic.

This past week Bapu was at the Prasad Labs in Banjara Hills working with technicians for the mixing and EFX for Sri Rama Rajyam starring Balakrishna as Lord Rama, Nayanatara as Sita, Srikanth as Lakshmana and Saikumar as Bharatha. Akkineni Nageswara Rao plays Valmiki.

Bapu and Mullapudi Venkataramana had earlier made three films based on Ramayana – Sri Ramanjaneya Yuddham, Sampoorna Ramayanam and Sita Kalyanam. You wonder how different is this film from them?

“In between we have made seven hours of Ramayana as part of the Sri Bhagavatham television serial for Etv. This time we have taken Uttara Ramayana that deals with the return of Rama to Ayodhya, his coronation, the reign of Rama and the second ordeal of Sita and the Lava-Kusa episode,” said the veteran director.

There was a 1943 Hindi classic titled Ram Rajya, made by Vijayashankar Jagneshwar Bhatt. It was in the news then as it was said to be the only film that Mahatma Gandhi watched. Was he influenced by the film, you ask. “Greatly,” he says “we (he and Ramana) were greatly influenced by Vijay Bhatt's film and we retained the title.”

Lavish sets were created at Ramoji Film City (art directors: Ravinder, Kiran) and P.R.K. Raju cranked the camera under Bapu's aesthetic eyes. Technically a brilliant effort, the film has loads of graphics. “Two hours ten minutes precisely,” smiles Bapu.

The legendary N.T. Ramarao played Rama in Bapu's first film on Ramayana, Sri Ramanjaneya Yudham(1971) and now it is the turn of the chip of the old block, Nandamuri Balakrishna to portray the epic hero. Earlier Balakrishna said that when Saibabu approached him for the role “the moment he said that Bapu is to direct the film, without any questions, I immediately said ‘yes'.” Such is the faith he had reposed in the thespian. Nayanatara as Sita is a revelation going by the stills from the film. And the movie is backed by maestro Ilayaraja's melodic music complimented by Jonnavithula Ramalingeswara Rao's lyrics that convey the story.

At a time when mythological movies have become a rarity, one tends to get curious about Sri Rama Rajyammade on such a large scale with such huge casting. Bapu a man of few words but celluloid creator par excellence answers crisply, “Everyone has performed well. We have done our job and it is for you (he meant the audience) to speak now.” Dedicated to the memory of Mullapudi Venkataramana, the movie is slated for release on November 17.


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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 8:43:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/preview-epic-comes-full-circle/article2621449.ece

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