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How Jr.NTR propelled Magadheera’s success?

April 25, 2010

Note: The following post is just a figment of my imagination. I have no facts and figures to prove this theory. However, the observation is based on a peculiar trend which I have noticed in the recent few years. You are free to agree or disagree with my views.

History repeats itself in quite an unusual fashion as far as movies are concerned. Take a bunch of all-time blockbusters in Hindi, Tamil or Telugu cinema, you can come up with your own equation. It’s a striking coincidence that atleast 2-3 of the top 10 blockbusters have something in common. Most of the time, it’s either the actor or the director who play a key role in the film’s box office success. Telugu Cinema is no different to this trend. We have always had four top heroes and then another set of budding actors who have worked hard and waited for their turn to occupy the coveted throne. Earlier it was NTR, ANR, Krishna and Shobhan Babu who churned out some of the biggest hits along with the top directors. Then in 80s, when they were past their prime, a new set of heroes emerged who went on to rule the roost for almost 20 years. Chiranjeevi, Balakrishna, Venkatesh and Nagarjuna, have in a way been the four pillars of Telugu Film Industry for more than two decades. Their films had great openings and quite a few of their films were blockbusters. And everytime they were written off by the critics or the audience, they bounced back strongly. In the early years of this decade, the four pillars had entered their 40s and the new generation of audience, especially the youth were waiting for fresh faces. This was the time when Mahesh, Pawan Kalyan, Jr.NTR, Prabhas, Allu Arjun emerged as top contenders to occupy the throne. Few years later, Chiranjeevi’s son, Ram Charan Teja, Nagarjuna’s son Naga Chaitanya, Venkatesh’s newphew RaNa made their respective debuts. However, this post isn’t about the dynasties in Telugu film industry, which I promise to write about in detail later. This is about the role of Jr.NTR in the stupendous success of Ram Charan Teja starrer, ‘Magadheera’, which is also the biggest blockbuster till date in Telugu cinema’s history.

Before we talk about Jr.NTR and Magadheera, it’s important to look at two blockbusters which made news in the earlier part of this decade. Balakrishna’s ‘Narasimha Naidu’ and Chiranjeevi’s ‘Indra’. Balakrishna pulled off a coup when he made one of the greatest ever comebacks known to Telugu cinema aficionados. In the 90s, he had several hits like ‘Bhairava Dweepam’, ‘Aditya 369’ to name a few. However, a string of flops later on had kept him out of news for quite sometime. But he was back with a bang with a film titled ‘Samarasimha Reddy’ and how! The film rewrote almost all possible records and ran for over 150 days in several cinema halls. He repeated this feat with ‘Narasimha Naidu’ in 2001 which according to some estimates raked in Rs.35 crores which was a huge amount back in 2001. On the other hand, Chiranjeevi had a neat track record since ‘Hitler’ which released in 1997. However, he required one big hit to show everyone who’s the ‘Big Boss’ of Telugu cinema. So, what happens? He stars in a movie titled ‘Indra’ in 2002, just 17 months after the release of ‘Narasimha Naidu’. Note that, both the films were directed by B.Gopal. Both the stories, were written by Chinni Krishna and both had ‘Rayalaseema’ faction as a theme…they follow similar screenplay, similar flashbacks etc. But, ‘Indra’ went on to become a bigger hit and according to a survey done by ‘India Today’ magazine (Telugu editon: dated- March 30th, 2010), ‘Indra’ raked in Rs. 40 crores! It was almost as if Balakrishna had started a trend and Chiranjeevi used the same formula added it with his style and delivered a bigger hit. Not to forget, the ego clashes between fans of both the heroes had a huge role to play in the success of both the film. In earlier case, the fans of Balakrishna celebrated and thronged the theatres, which was almost like an open challenge for the fans of Chiranjeevi. Later, when Chiranjeevi delivered what was expected out of him, his fans adored him like the rest of us.

Flash Forward. Year-2007

The new blood had already shown its power and energy. Jr.NTR’s high voltage action film ‘Simhadri’ (released in 2003) had catapulted him to the big league and there was no turning back for him. However, after consecutive flops, Jr.NTR was back with a bang in a new (slim) avatar in ‘Yamadonga’. It was the modern adaptation of a highly successful film ‘Yamagola’ starring NTR back in the 70s. Directed by S.S.Rajamouli, ‘Yamadonga’ was the costliest film made till 2007. The film was a blockbuster, raked in more than Rs.45 crores but couldn’t beat records set by Mahesh Babu’s ‘Pokiri’. There are few interesting aspects which have to be considered in ‘Yamadonga’. Rajamouli, the genius he is, banked upon Jr.NTR’s brilliance especially the latter’s energy, dancing skills and dialogue delivery which played a huge role in Yamadonga’s success. Since the most talked about part of the film is the episode set in ‘Yamaloka’, we shall curtail this discussion to that 30-40 mins of the film. Jr.NTR’s command over his diction is impeccable. His lengthy dialogues in the film were mesmerizing and he packs a punch in that flashback episode. The combo of Jr.NTR-Mohan Babu was a huge advantage for ‘Yamadonga’. Both of them delivered good performances and at one of time, the entire focus of our attention was on what they are saying and not on where the film is set. The art decoration was amazing; however the actor’s performances took the frontseat. The best part about ‘Yamadonga’ is it awakened a sleeping giant, mythology. Period! We have always been infatuated by mythology, kings, sword fights, epics, fables. And after a really long time, Rajamouli succeeded in bringing all this onto the silver screen. The success of the film opened floodgates for more films of this genre to be made in future, as the formula had been derived and put on paper. It showed the film industry that there’s a huge market for such films and also that the audience is craving for more explosive action set in bygone eras. In a way, Jr.NTR along with Rajamouli started a new trend, which would go on to become a rage in future. Note that, the fans of Jr.NTR were very very happy that their hero had delivered a massive hit and gave them enough stuff to brag about, be it the grandeur, costumes, dances.

Flash Forward: 2009

The scion of Chiranjeevi’s family Ram Charan Teja had already made his debut in Puri Jagannadh’s ‘Chirutha’ in 2007. He had established himself as a brilliant dancer and had the athleticism to dazzle in action sequences. His second film ‘Magadheera’ took almost two years to be filmed and when it finally released in July, 2009, it took our breath away. Not only did the film entertain the audience, but it also raked in moolah which left many trade pundits baffled. It’s extremely difficult to arrive at a conclusion as to why or how ‘Magadheera’ went on to become such a huge blockbuster. When I interviewed Rajamouli (which lasted for a mere 8 minutes) back in September 2009 to ask him reasons for this huge success, he reiterated the same line which he had told to the media. “Perhaps, it was because people had never seen such a thing on screen before”. He was right; however, it’s too vague a line to interpret. If you have seen the film closely, then you will realize that Ram Charan Teja’s role as ‘Kala Bhairava’ is easy to empathize with. He sacrifices his love for the sake of the kingdom, yet he expresses his love with every action and expression he portrays. His dialogue delivery as the warrior had a tinge of forced expressions, but then it was just his second film and we can’t expect him to be an NTR while delivering those huge lines. But then, Rajamouli came up with a better idea. He made sure that Ram Charan Teja’s performance especially in action sequences was highlighted more than anything else with respect to the actor. This is perhaps, one reason why we were lost in the grandeur of Udaygarh. ‘Magadheera’ (especially the flashback) is also a good example of what a cinematic experience actually means. By having less emphasis on the dialogues, the action choreography, art decoration, background score and the adrenaline of the entire setting worked as a catalyst which overwhelmed us. And is it just a coincidence that Rajamouli was once again at the helm of affairs for this film? It’s almost as if, he went a step ahead from his previous venture (Yamadonga) because he had a higher budget, better team to do the CGI, special effects and a young star who had a good fan following? If ‘Yamadonga’ was how the whole phenomena began, then ‘Magadheera’ was the end result of that experiment. It shows us that there’s a huge demand for such films and for that Jr.NTR and Rajamouli must be given a lot of credit. So, is Jr.NTR indirectly involved in the success of ‘Magadheera’. I think so.

The more interesting thing to ponder upon is what if Jr.NTR had starred in ‘Magadheera’ and Ram Charan in ‘Yamadonga’? What if Jr.NTR’s ‘Yamdonga’ had released after ‘Magadheera’? Would the number game change? Would our verdict still be the same? That’s something which perhaps will never be answered.

P.S: I am really curious to see how Rajamouli’s next film with Prabhas turns out to be. According to the initial buzz, Rajamouli has come up yet another explosive action film set in Hyderabad just before independence in the 40s.

Yours,

Hemanth

Follow me at twitter: http://twitter.com/crhemanth

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38 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2010 1:39 pm

    Number games are always interesting, most of us are sucker for these things… the present young generation is a bit different .. i would not compare with Charan,Naga Chaitanya etc.. folks as THE FOUR…

  2. Gopi permalink
    April 25, 2010 1:56 pm

    so..in short yamadonga spawned magadheera.
    Good read..but could u write something juicier..?
    How about an article on Balakrishna or Pawan Kalyan-the up n downs in their careers…1999 to 2010? Now THAT will get us interested!!

    • Hemanth permalink*
      April 25, 2010 1:59 pm

      @Gopi: No, I wouldn’t say that! But yeah…it definitely showed that there’s a huge market and demand for such concepts!..:)…Juicier posts usually ends up being controversial when we add our personal commentary..thanks for the advice! Shall think about it!..:)

  3. April 25, 2010 1:58 pm

    This is a rather neat analysis – particularly intriguing to Telugu industry outsiders like me, who’re very keen on knowing and understanding it (but can’t sink our teeth into it, for various reasons – mostly lack of info). I’ve watched Magadheera a couple of times, and though the story in the modern milieu didn’t do much for me – I loved certain techniques – the touch of hands, for example, that initiates the flashbacks. But what made my jaw drop was the sheer grandeur of Udaygarh. The attention to detail, the “aerial” shots were mesmerizing (not to mention a certain Mithravinda who was captivating :). The crowning glory was the opening scene – beginning in tragedy, so to speak.

    Its intriguing to know, though, that MD was the result of a snowball effect started by Yamadonga (must catch that one. ) It would explain MD’s phenomenal victory, despite what seemed to me a rather lukewarm cast (lineage and looks notwithstanding :). On second thoughts, RCT did seem to acquit himself well. Personally, we tend to fall for Kings, swords, reincarnation and myths (like you said). Maybe, in the end, it was that drop of magic that ended up being MD’s real reason for success.

    Kudos on a nice piece. 🙂

  4. Onlytruth permalink
    April 25, 2010 3:17 pm

    SIMHA is going to cross all the tollywood, kollywood, sandalwood, bollywood, tollywood, pandorawood records. WAIT AND SEE.

    • yalkur permalink
      June 1, 2010 8:52 pm

      loll…gud1

  5. Altaair permalink
    April 25, 2010 4:08 pm

    Felt like reading some gossip section after reading this! Though the article isn’t gossip, the effect it had on me was like that! Especially, I don’t find the title of the article related to the core of the subject! It is like a gimmick to intrigue people into reading the article!

    You could say that a genre like mythology has been rejuvenated if other filmmakers too have started making films in it!
    It is only Rajamouli who is making films in them.. He is making because, as he said, one of his purposes in coming to the film industry, was to make films based on folklore.
    He had established himself as a good director and now he could command huge budgets that would allow him to set stories on such a high scale.

  6. April 25, 2010 6:05 pm

    lollll what a disgusting wirte up.nuvvu jr.ntr fan ani ardam avuthundhi.123telugu lo adurs ki 3.75 ichinapude ardam ayindhi ne verri thanam.magadheera lo charan is best.30years chiru number one next 30years charan number one.nuvvu inka jrntr bajana chesuko.

    • lopa permalink
      April 29, 2010 2:28 pm

      Aren’t you contradicting yourself in one statement. On one hand you are accusing the author of fanaticism and other the other hand your are proclaiming that the Chiranjeevi and the clan are going to rule the industry. Maybe you should re-evaluate you comment.

  7. April 25, 2010 6:22 pm

    hey such a biased analysis.just comapre 2nd film of ntr with magadheera.i dont know his 2nd film but until yamadonga he was so fat to be called as a hero.dude dont put up your fanism while writing such articles.Ram Charan was damn good in magadheera.he was the best.if he was gud in pieces how come it would turn out to be the biggest money spinner in south.dont come to such idiotic conclusions because you like one actor and not the other.Name oneperson who would have fit into magadheera role and do it with such a ease like charan.

    • Hemanth permalink*
      April 25, 2010 6:26 pm

      I am not biased towards Jr.NTR or Ram Charan Teja. All I am trying to do is how ‘Yamadonga’ began this trend and opened up a pandora’s box!…:)…Oh, by the way, Magadheera is one of my favourite films of 2009…you can read my post on ‘Best and Worst of Telugu Cinema:2009″ and also my review of Magadheera. And you will know how much I loved the film!..:)

      • April 25, 2010 6:38 pm

        Hemanth I think you have written reviews for both Magadheera and Adurs in 123telugu.com.you gave adurs 3.75 rating and magadheera 3.5 rating.correct me if i am wrong.

        show me one person who gives more rating to Adurs than magadheera other than NTR fans.How come Adurs is better than MAgadheera.Lol.Dude it just sums up your intention with these reviews.

        • Hemanth permalink*
          April 25, 2010 6:41 pm

          Nope…I didn’t review ‘Magadheera’ on 123telugu.com…going by your logic..if I have given Adhurs 3.75..then I would have ended up giving ‘Magadheera’, a 4.5…if you have observed how I rate or review films…I usually overrate films, which I guess is a good thing!..:)

          And, I can’t bring in my personal agenda when I write reviews..that’s quite unprofessional as a film critic. I hope you will appreciate the difference!..:-)

          • truth permalink
            April 29, 2010 10:12 pm

            @chiru

            you are just a ignorant fan boy . There can’t be comparison between Jr ntr and ram charan .

            Jr Ntr > ram charan in each and every department .

            Enough said .

  8. April 25, 2010 6:24 pm

    Lol JR.NTR in magadheera.just cant stop laughing imagining him as kala bhairava.i think he has done like 15 pictures.nameone picture where he acted like a true lover.forget about it as he doest have any youth or romantic appeal.period.

    • james permalink
      May 2, 2010 2:27 pm

      Movie is a hit or not depends on the director to the a extent … if the movie isn’t hit it doesn’t mean he is a bad actor .

      Stop comparing jr ntr with ram charan ….. jr ntr is on a whole different league .

      You can go and ask rajamouli or ram charan himself .

  9. chakri permalink
    April 25, 2010 7:30 pm

    Hi Hemanth
    i would like to ask u one thing….
    even though rajamouli had done many movies with NTR….. could not deliver a hit like Magadheera…….
    Do not tell me that no producer other than Allu Aravind was ready to spend huge amounts for a movie by Rajamouli….. who had delivered series of blockbusters……

    See ….for a film to become a huge hit…. irrespective of the herculean efforts by the cast and crew of the movie…… its all Destiny man…….

    As per you said Yamadonga is the starting point of a new era…… I feel Anji is the starting point of the era you have been talking about…. not because … chiru acted in it…. Its because of the passion and vision of Shyam prasad reddy garu……. the kind of money he has spent in shaping out that movie is incredible……

    This just my perspective….

    • Hemanth permalink*
      April 25, 2010 7:44 pm

      @Chakri: Agree with your perspective!..:)…However, this blog isn’t about why Yamadonga wasn’t a bigger hit than Magadheera…that’s like a different debate altogether!..:)

      I guess what it says is, there has to be a beginning for any milestone to occur and as far as I see it…Yamadonga gave the first push and Magadheera took it to a whole new level!..:)

  10. Kireeti permalink
    April 25, 2010 11:00 pm

    Hi Hemanth,
    I totally disagree with u’r opinion. first of all I personally hate comparing people–it may be politicians/actors/sport stars/anyone. When u feel that bringing u’r personal agenda is unprofessional for u as a film critic, then at the same time, u should not compare actors..rt?
    adedo same genre, (almost)same setup, same flashback lo iddaru strong characters,etc., tho rondu cinemallo first cinema hero baga chesadu kabatte second cinema ki antha impact vachhi blockbuster ayyindi andam entha varaku correct chicha? And to justify u’r statement u’ve taken the example of Indra and Narasimha Naidu/Samara Simha Reddy, I didn’t liked it amma:-( and as per u’r reviews, i totally respect u’r take! If comparison arrives, then we(rather than I) usually compare the director’s previous films, his thoughts, his implementation, new ideas, how he mixes ’em with commercial aspects, how is he using the latest technology,etc.., I guess these are points of discussion.
    DIRECTOR IS THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY FILM’S OUTCOME

    • Hemanth permalink*
      April 25, 2010 11:09 pm

      hey!!…I am not comparing the two actors here…and most certainly, I have no personal agenda against any of the actors mentioned here!..:)…All I meant was, every milestone has a beginning!…Which is exactly what I have tried to reason out here!..:)…If Jr.NTR-Rajamouli resurrected this trend (socio fantasy/mythology) with ‘Yamadonga’ then, Rajamouli-Ram Charan Teja took it to a whole new level in ‘Magadheera’. That’s is all I wanted to say…:-)…but then, you are free to interpret what I have written in your own way!..:)

  11. April 25, 2010 11:02 pm

    I guess it’d have been better if you’ve had compared Magadheera with Arundhati. I really can’t understand what you tried to prove or explain. Just think about the title of your post and the content in the post. This post is missing the logic. And.. I’m not a fan of either Balakrishna or Chiru or Jr.Ntr or Ram..

    • Hemanth permalink*
      April 25, 2010 11:09 pm

      hey!!…I am not comparing the two films/actors here…and most certainly, I have no personal agenda against any of the actors mentioned here!..:)…All I meant was, every milestone has a beginning!…Which is exactly what I have tried to reason out here!..:)…If Jr.NTR-Rajamouli resurrected this trend (socio fantasy/mythology) with ‘Yamadonga’ then, Rajamouli-Ram Charan Teja took it to a whole new level in ‘Magadheera’. That’s is all I wanted to say…:-)…but then, you are free to interpret what I have written in your own way!..:)

      • April 25, 2010 11:22 pm

        If Jr.NTR-Rajamouli resurrected this trend (socio fantasy/mythology) with ‘Yamadonga’ then, Rajamouli-Ram Charan Teja took it to a whole new level in ‘Magadheera’. That’s is all I wanted to say…:-)

        So, who propelled the Magadheera’s Success? Rajamouli or Jr.NTR??? In fact, it’s the RAjamouli who propelled the success of Magadheera.. isn’t it?

        I’m just trying to figure out the real subject of the post.. good that you getting lots of comments.. and your post is getting popular.. welcome it..

        • Hemanth permalink*
          April 25, 2010 11:36 pm

          @satya: Who should be attributed for Magadheera’s success, is a million dollar question!!..:-)…It’s a rare film, honestly. The entire crew deserves an applause for their work…but more than that, it was the euphoria which had spread among the audience which did the trick for this film! I have rarely such a thing happening with us, the Telugu audience. Even for the earlier blockbusters, there were enough people who said something against the blockbusters…but none of the rules could held their forte infront of Magadheera!…:)

          If someone could decode why it’s such a big hit, please let me know! I am dying to read the exact list if reasons behind it!..:)

    • April 25, 2010 11:14 pm

      His dialogue delivery as the warrior had a tinge of forced expressions, but then it was just his second film and we can’t expect him to be an NTR while delivering those huge lines. But then, Rajamouli came up with a better idea. He made sure that Ram Charan Teja’s performance especially in action sequences was highlighted more than anything else with respect to the actor.

      When it comes to the reason behind making Magadheera, do you really think that Rajamouli has given lots of importance to the visual effects just because Ram charan is not good with dialogues? Did he tell that to you? Do you think it’s the right kind of assumption?

      • Hemanth permalink*
        April 25, 2010 11:23 pm

        @Satya: It’s just a personal opinion…as I said in the “Note” above, I have no facts and figures to prove this theory! And the whole article is just an imaginary piece, which may or may not be true!..:)

        On a different note, Yes, I believe that there was a tinge of forced expression in Ram Charan Teja’s role as ‘Kalabhairava’. It’s just a personal opinion!..:) Just as you might have believed that, Ram Charan was mindblowing in the film, I believe he was terrific when he didn’t have too many dialogues! I was jumping with joy during the ‘Bhairava Kona’ episode…his expressions were brilliant!..:).

        And assumptions aren’t necessarily right or wrong. You go with what you believe in and try to explain why you think so! In the mean time, we can respect each other’s opinion until something is proved!..:D

        Thanks for your patience for dropping a comment here!..:)

        • yalkur permalink
          June 1, 2010 9:08 pm

          seriousli dude…its jus ur wild imagination dat Jr.ntr propelled MD success..loll.. if its not jr.ntr it wud b som tom,dik n hari who wud hav done dat.. den wud u say dat som1 propelled MD…? look yamadonga or MD cud hav been done by oder heroes if de director chooses to.. don make dis silli statements saying sombody propelled som movie’s success… i don care to like r dislike ntr r rct.. one thing sure MD is a wholesome entertainer n wud hav grossed de same r more even if it were released b4 yamadonga… n still yamadonga mite not gross more dan wat it did if it were relesed after MD..

          its all director’s game… he is de 1 who calls de shots.. credit goes to him..not ntr or rct for propelling such a entertaining movy’s success..

          n u mite have noticed script wise MD is far superior to yamadonga..former dint even needed a regular comedy quotient in flashback part.. wer as yamadonga had bramhi n som(not som infact a lot) comedy stuff in de yamaloka part.. n moreover yamadonga script isnt genuine..SSR polished an old script.. so give de credit to film crew rader dan som ntr or… k understand it..

  12. Kireeti permalink
    April 25, 2010 11:25 pm

    @Satya…”When it comes to the reason behind making Magadheera, do you really think that Rajamouli has given lots of importance to the visual effects just because Ram charan is not good with dialogues? Did he tell that to you? Do you think it’s the right kind of assumption?”–same doubt

    And I’ve never said that you had some personal agenda against actors??? I hope I’m clear in what I’ve said..rt?

  13. Kireeti permalink
    April 25, 2010 11:30 pm

    Ok…Got it:-)

  14. April 25, 2010 11:37 pm

    I just tried to explain you that the relation what you tried to bring out is not at all the right one. I meant jr.NTR’s role in magadheera… Also, FYI, I don’t like Ram Charan Teja’s dialogue diction.

    Anyways, it’s just your theory which you can’t even decide right or wrong. There’s no point in discussing about it further.

  15. April 25, 2010 11:43 pm

    try posting similar posts and your blog will be in the top list. Nice concepts.. All the best…

  16. April 26, 2010 2:00 am

    Hemanth,

    Partly true, may be. But this isn’t something new in the industry. Actors / Directors following up with same genre film either of their own one which was a hit earlier or others.
    Nice try, though bringing out such to the light. 😛

    Cheers!

  17. Matter permalink
    April 26, 2010 11:59 am

    @onlytruth : lol only mamu ! 🙂 We will wait, we will watch.
    @magadheera: nee lanti valla valle charan fans ani cheppukovadaniki siggu ga undi. manaku ishtam kada ani
    andariki undakkarledu nanna.

  18. Matter permalink
    April 26, 2010 12:07 pm

    @hemanth: dude these people have gone mad. they cant take a single bloody opinion properly. you are the most unbiased guy I ve ever seen. [Manalo mana mata, if you want to beat these guys up, I am with you]

  19. April 28, 2010 1:41 pm

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  20. lopa permalink
    April 29, 2010 2:41 pm

    I think most of the guys in the comments have taken offenses of opinions in the article and have not examined the article as a whole entity. The article was about trend, fad and industry’s success. Most of the commentators have read bits and pieces of the article and made the discussion unreasonable by accusing the author. If one wants to really say something unbiased there shouldn’t be any accusations going around.

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