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Two Words on “Billa” (Telugu)

April 6, 2009

*Warning: This post is too long, contains too many spoilers and some Objectionable content. Reader discretion is advised. Further, I claim full responsibility for everything that I have written here and thereby I declare that I wasn’t under the influence of drugs, alcohol and other substances while writing this review.

Over the past few decades, ever since Telugu film industry has tried to experiment with genres other than the Family Drama, it has had traces of some X, Y, Z movie and sometimes from movies in other languages/countries. With the advent of Cable TV and internet, I believe, we as an audience are more aware of other Film Industries across the world and some of us who take a little more interest in movies have gone one step further. Now, we can recollect the scenes, interpret complex themes and can even tell what makes Wong Kar Wai’s or Quentin Tarantino’s style so special. However this awareness is sometimes a bane too, because when you see the original, you will realise how some of your favourite movies have liberally ripped off scenes from that original film. Something of that sort happens while watching the new Telugu movie, directed by Meher Ramesh “Billa” starring Prabhas, Anushka, Namitha.

“Billa” is the story of a don, a police officer and a look alike of don. Since 1978 (Don, starring Amitabh Bachchan was released) there have been 6 remakes of the original in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam which makes Meher Ramesh’s “Billa” the 7th remake of Don. However, this Telugu version is heavily inspired by the 2007 Tamil film, “Billa” starring Ajith, Nayanathara, Namitha. Some say, this telugu version is a complete rip off of that Tamil Version. You must have seen atleast one of those 7 films made till date and if you happen to be a movie buff, chances are that you might have seen atleast 4-5 remakes of the Original “Don”. This is exactly where everything starts going against “Billa”(Telugu).

Before going further into the intricate details, I must add that “Billa” looks lavish. Most of the film has been shot in Malaysia and also boasts of brilliant sets, cinematography, costumes, stunts, glamour quotient. Having said that, “Billa” is also possibly one of the most unoriginal movie of 2009. Here’s why..

1. Complete rip off of “Billa”, 2007 Tamil film starring Ajith and directed by Vishnuvardhan

2. One of the best dialogues in the movie, “There are 515 million guns in the world, which means 1 gun for every 12 people. My job is to equip the other 11 with guns” is directly lifted from 2008 Telugu movie, Jalsa which inturn is plagarised from a 2005 English film, “Lord of War” starring Nicolas Cage.

3. “Hasta la vista, Baby!” which Billa often uses, is a direct copy of a similiar line by Arnold in the cult film, “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”.

4. The “Fencing” episode is heavily inspired from a similar scene in “Die Another Day”, the 2002 Bond film.

5. The background score in some scenes is blatantly plagiarised. The trademark score of “Terminator” franchise marks its presence in some scenes.

6. The climax scene where Billa and Devil face off is loosely inspired from a similar scene between Colin Farell and Al Pacino from the movie, “Recruit”.

“Billa” is also a classic example of bad casting. The ensemble is probably good individually, but as a team they fail to pack a punch.

1. Prabhas: He’s stylish in the film. That’s all there is to write about him in this film. The moment he opens his mouth to deliver his lines, you begin to wonder if he’s really a don! The English diction is worse than expected. However, the role of “Ranga” is a bit funny to begin with, but that too vanishes in no time.

2. Anushka: The current sweetheart of Telugu Film Industry looks gorgeous. Again, with a badly written character and with hardly any footage, saving the Bikini scenes, she hardly counts in the movie.

3. Namitha: I believe, the producers and director were under the influence of narcotics when they decided to cast Namitha as Lisa. Andhra Pradesh is not Tamil Nadu. You cannot expect the same patronage for her in Telugu films, how difficult was that to guess?! I think, I have a perfect explanation why she was restricted to mini skirts/bikinis in the movie. Look at her from a mile away and you will most probably come to a conclusion that the Costume department ran out of fabrics! To even call her “sexy” or “beautiful” which some of us have already stated, is a matter of great disgrace to “Womanhood”. A total eye sore, irritative…overall a terrible decision to cast her in the film.

4. Krishnam Raju: Come on! Seriously..WTF was he doing there?! This is 2009 and you still expect the audience to go back to 80’s watching the “Rebel Star” pack a punch!!! He was a big big let down, a fact further aggravated by his extremely poor English pronounciation and sad histrionics. Check him out deliver all those horrible “One Liners”, My God! He was unintentionally hilarious!

5. Supreet: What’s wrong with the directors in our films? Why would someone ask arguably one of the best villians in Telugu Film Industry roam around in a suit, where he should be flexing his muscles in the first place! People still remember him as “Kaatraaz” in Rajamouli’s “Chatrapati” and that’s exactly how you expect him to be. Again, a very talented artist completely wasted.

6. Hansika: Sizzles in a song. And the song isn’t as impressive as “yeh, mera dil”

There has been a never ending debate about how films should be watched in first place. Yes, I agree that for most of us it’s only a 3 hour excuse to while away our time…yet you don’t wish to be taken for granted. And too many films these days are getting sucked into this quagmire…a sneak peek with respect to “Billa”.

1. Why would someone use his/her name as a password to the computer, given the premise that it’s supposed to be a top secret?!

2. WTF is “Can-Can”? I wish there was a better catch phrase!

3. They wear “Armani” suits (which I seriously doubt), drive around in Mercs and deal with International smugglers. The whole film is set in Malaysia which means the film makers cannot even give the excuse of changing the script according to “Nativity”.  Yet, they hardly manage to speak a line in English properly. Wouldn’t it make more sense if everyone, actors, actresses, writers were made to undergo a course in spoken English?

4. I have never heard a plane filled with arms wait for that long in an airstrip! It looked as if they were all waiting for the police to arrive…

5. And that wasn’t a Ferrari!!! You can’t fake a Ferrari by just pasting some stickers on the car like that!

Phew! I seriously wish, we take our movies more seriously. Not only will that ensure that we raise our voice and concern about our standards of film making, but also it will give a strong message to the film industry that don’t take us for granted. If we can tell the difference between a Hyderabadi Biryani and a Andhra Style Chicken Biryani, how difficult is it to differentiate between a good film and a bad film! But having said all that, I will definitely credit “Billa” for some brilliant cinematography, costumes and some unintentionally hilarious scenes especially the 10 second fencing face off between Anushka and Namitha. Meher Ramesh, who so far has been making a potpourri of movies (his last flick, “Kantri” was heavily inspired by Pokiri and Bluffmaster) is bound to make a killing this time. The biggest hit of this year, Arundhati is losing its steam in multiplexes and other centres and with no other big release over the next 2-3 months, it’s a clear field for “Billa”. It’s highly recommended for those, who enjoy even cheesy flicks, who hardly watch 4-5 movies a year, who don’t watch English, Hindi, Tamil or other foreign language movies. But if you don’t fall under that category, take my advice, avoid it unless you are a huge fan of Prabhas/Anushka.

And I thought, I had just two words on “Billa” (Telugu). It Sucks.

Hasta la vista.

By,

Hemanth

Note: The biggest achievement of this film would be inspiring few hundred people to pack their bags and go on a vacation to Malaysia! That’s the only thing the Malaysian Tourism Board can hope for.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2009 3:23 pm

    I say you are giving it too much bhaav by writing a blog post about it. Telugu industry is crap and they cheat themselves saying the do art but all they do is copy. We dont even have to bother by analysing such farce!

    • Hemanth permalink*
      April 6, 2009 4:30 pm

      @ Vemana: But someone has to write about the farce! Atleast we will educate more about the plagiarism in telugu movies! Besides, there’s always an evil pleasure in writing about bad films!…:P

  2. rajturl permalink
    April 6, 2009 3:27 pm

    1.i did not like ‘lord of war’
    2.billa tries to be stylish but it isn’t (haven’t watched.i just feel so)
    3.prabhas looks amazing
    4.music sucks
    5.hansika as kareena? :O god…child molestation in this also? 😛
    6.i am not watching this movie.
    7.nice analysis.detaaailed 😀
    8.i don’t think i need to watch also ‘cos even i’d end up finding faults like this…
    9.asta la vista baby

    • Hemanth permalink*
      April 6, 2009 4:34 pm

      1. Dei…watch “Lord of War” again!
      2. I say it’s stylish because we haven’t seen anything like that in Telugu so far!
      3. Yeah..but his six-pack doesn’t go well with his suits!
      4. I liked the title track..but otherwise nothing impressive
      5.hehe..obb macha!
      6. Good Decision!
      7. Thanks, again!
      8. Well, that happens unintentionally! I don’t think we watch movies to find faults!
      9. Adios!

  3. Vinay permalink
    April 6, 2009 4:50 pm

    The only positive aspect of these kinds of films for the future filmmakers is that they would know: ‘How not to make a film’ and Style doesn’t equate to slow movement or flashy editing techniques & wierd camera angles.

    Good post & a great blog, Hemanth 🙂

    • Hemanth permalink*
      April 6, 2009 8:07 pm

      @Vinay: Ahh…yes! I have never understand what’s the fetish with extreme close ups and repeating a frame 3-4 times from different angles! They look so terrible…

      And thanks dude, am glad that you liked the blog!..:)

  4. Sai permalink
    April 7, 2009 1:31 am

    If you have closely observed the password just starts with B,I,L and it’s followed by some other characters which Meher didn’t show. I am not sure if it is intentional or not. So lets assume that the password is not billa 😛

    • Hemanth permalink*
      April 7, 2009 11:01 am

      @sai: hehehe…well, then lets give him the benefit of doubt!!..:D

  5. Rahul permalink
    April 7, 2009 8:40 pm

    I have seen all recent DON/Bills 1. DON(Hindi) 2. Billa (Tamil) 3. Billa (Telugu). It has been already declared that Billa(Tamil) is the best in making on all departments and everyone knows well before that Billa(Telugu) version could not match even with normal standards as World knows that Telugu standards…
    Tamil Billa pluses 1.Name Logo 2. Actor(Ajith) 3. Music/songs 4.Background Score 5. Billa Theme 6. Costumes 7.Cinematography 8. Direction and last but not least Dialogues (English mixing )…not at all matching the Tamil version….Poor Telugu people/audiences…Kindly start seeing Tamil movies to get to know the standards and real quality…

    • Hemanth permalink*
      April 8, 2009 11:56 am

      @Rahul…wow..wow! Calm down buddy…we don’t claim that Telugu film industry has better standards than Tamil film industry…certainly Tamil industry has some of the best Technicians/actors/actresses, stories, screenplays..and they do make much better films every year.

      But guess what?! Telugu population cannot understand Tamil..and the ones that get dubbed aren’t upto the standard in terms of flow of dubbing and dialogues…probably that’s one reason why we miss out on some very good films. I will also credit the Telugu audience for their addiction to movies…quite a few Tamil movies get dubbed every year and the films do good business here…I am not sure if vice-versa is true.

      I haven’t seen the Tamil version of “Billa”..so, I wouldn’t want to make any statement on that! Thanks for visiting the blog…hope you have liked it!..:)

    • rajturl permalink
      April 9, 2009 3:19 pm

      i agree with tamil standards (it is more the writing that seems so true and bold unlike telugu) but dude there are hell lotta telugu movies dubbed into tamil as well and also remade (esp the ones which have pure entertainment value viz.action/romance minus the innovativeness).Every industry has its share of brilliance and ridiculousness.and how many movies is this judgement based on?I wish to know.
      Kindly watch a few more telugu movies for there are some classics (in no comparison with other languages/industry).

  6. April 9, 2009 4:01 pm

    not exactly on this post..
    but how did u know that I added you to the Blogroll?

    • Hemanth permalink*
      April 9, 2009 4:06 pm

      @Anantha: WordPress has an excellenct pingback system…so, now I know who all have linked to my blog!..:)

      • April 9, 2009 4:56 pm

        Thats cool of WordPress. We ‘Blogger’s don’t hv this luxury 😦

  7. Sh@@n permalink
    April 26, 2009 4:48 pm

    Dey Hemanth…

    nee oru mairu pudingi. dey telugu billa, tamil billa rendu padattalu na pattha. telugu billa superaa irrikka. nee oru gay punda. sooth punda. serupu pinjigam tambi…

    what the fuck is your problem man? these pictures are made only for the entertainment. and mother fuckers like you are making it a big issue and comparing each film with others and writing your mother fucking stories like this on internet. if you dont have any other work then go and fuck your mother…you asshole.

    what is not there in the telugu film da? Nee nalla pattiya padam? tirippi paar tambi. onakku idi da kadasi chance.

    FUCK OFF.

    • Kamal permalink
      July 5, 2010 3:33 pm

      @sh…

      I guess you are the director Meher with a masked name. Just fuck off from this site man.

  8. manu permalink
    May 5, 2009 4:52 pm

    hemanth..

    i have read ur comments on telugu billa …for ur information it is far much better than tamil billa,,,really all tamil films really suck..those sucking fights and also that fucking comedy..it all sucks really…

    • Hemanth permalink*
      May 6, 2009 11:26 pm

      Dear Manu,
      I think you really missing the point here. My intention is not to compare the Telugu version with the one in Tamil. Since I haven’t seen the Tamil version, I can’t really say which one of the two is better. Leaving aside that fact, a film like “Billa” in Telugu needs no parameter to be compared with. It’s extremely silly save for few scenes which have been shot well. I agree that the main intention of films these days is to “entertain” people, but having said that if this continues, I guess we will never be able to make of better standard, something which we can show to the entire world and not just Telugu audience.

      For you information, I believe Tamil film industry, despite all those commercial potboilers, do make some seriously good films, if not plenty, atleast 5-10 flicks a year, including the low budget flicks. Check out “Subramanyapuram” which is soon gonna be dubbed as “Anantapuram”!…

      Thanks for dropping in, hope you have liked the blog.

  9. sreenam permalink
    June 14, 2009 7:12 pm

    hi hemanth, i am film student in hyderabad. i like your reviews.
    i saw “don” movie in hindi(sharukh khan), i like very much this movie a specially costumes,taking & sharukh action.

    your all are mentioned billa costumes was great but i don’t agree that it was very poor costumes. it was very costly, like ballu pant.
    i think costume designers are just following billa tamil and other. but it was not fit for prabhas.:)

    • Hemanth permalink*
      June 15, 2009 9:05 am

      @Sreenam: Hey, thanks a lot. I am glad that you like the reviews which I write. Yes, you do have a point there…if you compare this version with that of Tamil and Hindi, almost every costume was designed in the similar manner. But still I guess they must have spent a bomb for that!.

      Btw…Prabhas does look funny in some suits…he’s probably an inch or two too thin for those costumes..:P.
      Keep Reading. Thanks for dropping in.

  10. Shaw permalink
    July 26, 2009 6:33 pm

    I have never been interested in Indian movies owing to their Masala content. Yesterday, I was loaned Tamil & Telugu version(s) of Billa.

    The best part about Telugu version was better settings, costumes, and more lavish. I completely agree that the minute Prbhas opened his moth, I felt like muting the volume. Ajith was better, but not great.

    On your can-can query, its to do with the culture in Singapore/Malaysia, they use these words all the time. However, it’s a don film, and it’s got to be more serious. Somehow the can-can part made it look stupid in both the versions.

    Telugu version was less serious overall. English was poorer in telugu version, and both would have done well by avoiding Namitha (and her costume was worse in telugu version to make the matters worse). She was simply wasting the screen space, with her large elephant’s ass.

    The big plus of Tamil version was Ajith. I think Anushka was far better than Nayantara, and she was the plus in Telugu version. She looked quite good and sharp in that costume.

    The ideal combination would have been Ajith & Anushka with someone else for Namitha’s role.

    • Hemanth permalink*
      July 26, 2009 6:41 pm

      @Shaw: I haven’t seen the Tamil version yet. But after having seen the Telugu version, I believe every other version should be better acting per se!..:)

      I am curious to know why this sudden interest in both Tamil and Telugu versions of Billa when you say that you don’t watch Indian films? Are you doing some case study or something?…

      Thanks for dropping by…hope you liked my blog!..:)

  11. sainath permalink
    May 9, 2010 12:08 am

    hello annayya..naa peru Sainath…BITS,PILANI adey meeru chadivina college lone chadhuvu thunnanu…and i can’t agree with u on these aspects……

    i.there are 515 million guns in the world, which means 1 gun for every 12 people. My job is to equip the other 11 with guns” is directly lifted from 2008 Telugu movie…
    ee dialouge jalsa nundi lift cheindhi kaadu…(which means 1 gun for every 12 people).only ee dialouge matrame vuntundhi akkada…

    ii.and meeru thappugu anukokapothe okati….
    mee uddesam prakaram..antha kottaga vundali..i ee scene deninundi fick cheya koodadani….but okkasari aalochinchandi…adi oka english movie nundi flick chesina telugu vallaki adhi kotthe kada..and naa opinion prakaram…flick cheyadam thappukaadu..,aa scene telugu vallaki nacchtattu ela theesaro gamaninichandi…

    6. The climax scene where Billa and Devil face off is loosely inspired from a similar scene between Colin Farell and Al Pacino from the movie, “Recruit”.
    [ee scene gurinchi cheppalante ..ippudu manam bits lo vunnam kaabatti recruit ..inka chala movies choostham kaabatti meeku adhi thelisindhi kaani telugu audience ki kottaga anipinchocchukada..

    ..Ippudu ramayanam lo ravanudu seethanu apaharinchukuni velthadukada….
    …ippudu OKKADU movie lo prakasha raj (bhoomika) ni..theesukelle scene ramayana nundi copy chesadani cheppadam correct kaadu kada…

    ippudu review raasina meeku inni thelisinappudu…director’s asalu ee aspectni gamaninchi vuntaru kada…

    P.S:Naaku movies ante chala interest .direction department lo pani chetalani naa AIM .i need ur suggestions(guidence).

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