Y Sunita Chowdhary
Teja Sajja, from being that energetic child actor with a gleam in his eyes has matured into a handsome, fit youngster who looks set for a long haul in the movies. Acting with top stars like Chiranjeevi, Pawan Kalyan, Nagarjuna, Venkatesh and Mahesh Babu in his early years has not only given a strong foundation for his film career, but has also helped him understand the craft in the vicinity of impressive storytellers. It’s fair to say that he grew amidst the glitz of the film world and it wasn’t exactly surprising to see him perform with ease as the mischievous teenager in Oh Baby. Klapboardpost.com asked him to pick five films that have constantly captured his imagination and here’s what he’s come up with.
I saw the film more than once and quite like that genre. Anything that is larger than life fascinates me, especially the time based movies. I have seen many world movies and I could understand that what director Singeetam Sreenivasa Rao showed, be it in terms of screenplay or climax 30 years back is something that is being repeated and followed by filmmakers today. There is nothing new that directors are adding to it and in that context Singeetam Srinivasa Rao is a far sighted person, a true visionary. It baffles me that he could convince a star hero to take up the role, producer to invest such a budget and rope in so many artists and get a fantastic CG going. It is mind blowing. Balakrishna had done Bhairava Dweepam but nothing beats Aditya 369. I watched this film first as a seven-year-old, it was such a wholesome entertainer. I could watch the film in a different perspective at that time and today I see it in an entirely new light but each time I watch it surprises me. I saw Dark recently on Netflix and even towards the ending, he had used Singeetam’s screenplay techniques. I never saw cartoon network, I was always travelling and shooting, discussing films, serious emotion and so the cartoon network didn’t excite me which is why one of the reasons Aditya 369 had a great impact on me.
I was six and a half years old when I did that film. It was directed by B Gopal. I played the kid hero and even today people identify me as Teja from Indra. I have never witnessed the euphoria like I did for the 175 days function of the film held at Vijayawada. The crowd was humongous and they were all standing in serpentine queues like devotees do at a temple. Chiranjeevi had never tried a faction and this was his first film in that genre. Before Indra, he had delivered a string of flops i.e between Chudalani Vundi and Indra. It was also around the same time, Narasimha Naidu and Samarasimha Reddy were huge hits. When Chiranjeevi was approached for Indra, he first declined but eventually agreed to act in it. I get goose bumps for every scene, especially during his stay at Varanasi in the story. Going back to the function held at Vijayawada, I remember seeing the huge crowds spilling on the roads. We were all travelling in a bus and Chiranjeevi got down before us, even before we reached Vijayawada.
We wondered why but after a while our doubt was cleared. Around 300 people lay across the road and dared the bus driver to go over them; they wanted Chiranjeevi to come out and wave to them or else they wouldn’t clear the road. Chandra Babu Naidu was the CM and he was the chief guest. I was seven years old and when I stood over the stage, glanced below, what I saw was an incredible sight. There wasn’t any place for a person to move. After seeing the crowd, CM feared a law and order problem and had told Ashwini Dutt not to call Chiranjeevi. He was worried about his arrival but to his consternation and also relief, Chiranjeevi alighted from a helicopter. When Chiranjeevi walked up, the stage shook with the screams of the crowd. Mokke kadha ani peekesthe peeka kostha was one of his dialogues that became popular. The way Chiranjeevi is introduced gives you the thrill. In the story, all men from a family are killed and there is only an old woman alive who tells the people to rescue the village. The old woman has a grandson and he assures his grandmother to trust him on that job. Soon after, Chiranjeevi is introduced as the grown up version of the kid on the screen and we get to read the titles.
Arjun Reddy is a superlative version of Idiot or perhaps a bit more. From the inception of Telugu cinema, the hero was shown as a good man, who takes care of the family, his country etc. When Ravi Teja was doing Idiot, he wasn’t even a star, he began addressing the heroine in a condescending manner like Osey, Yentey, Raavey, Povey etc. The hero was shown by Puri Jagannadh as an uncouth, unrelenting man. Unlike earlier heroes who would be a cop or a factionist and fight with the villain, here Ravi Teja found a conflict in himself. Puri Jagannadh got the bad boy image for the Telugu hero who can be loved and idolised. Ravi Teja had suddenly a huge fan following post that movie which is difficult for other heroes to achieve. When Arjun Reddy released, for at least a year later, there was a lot of negativity surrounding Vijay Devarakonda though it was just a character portrayal. In Business Man too, Puri Jagannadh’s hero Mahesh Babu did the unthinkable. His lines were stooping low and surprisingly none protested. So, in Idiot, Ravi Teja set a new trend in heroes being careless, having no goal in life other than winning the heroine’s heart. Be it the hero’s characterisation or the writing, I liked it. Ismart Shankar I must say also is a contemporary version of the lead character from Idiot.
I like that it became a talking point. Every ten years a hero becomes a star or should we say he created an impact with one film. He took drugs, tries to hit on a girl and he takes steps that no conventional hero would have ever taken. Vijay got such a huge hit at the beginning of his career that any emotion or dialogue that he does or displays in his successive films will be compared to Arjun Reddy. Any slightest similarity will be seen as being typecast. Other heroes must be doing the same thing but Vijay faces the risk because of the impact AR had on the audience.
The film is so complicated yet so smooth and likeable. There is some fantastic writing and performances and having the entire family in the film is something only the director could pull off. He blended the characters so seamlessly and Akhil’s entry in the climax was like cherry on the cake. ANR worked even while dying and later Samantha became their family. I don’t think this magic can be recreated, it is an out of the box story. After Manam, the only cute film I liked is Oh Baby, it had no mass elements or chaos.