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I’ve very much wanted to see Chiranjeevi’s 1993 film Mutha Mestri after I saw the fabulous video of “We Are Flowers” song. According to a research done by Cinema Chaat, the song is included only in the EVP version and the DVD by Moser Baer doesn’t have it. The EVP DVD has been somewhat difficult to track down but some time ago I noticed that it is included in EVP’s 12 DVD Tri Star Superhits Pack that Bhavani DVD sells for $47.99. The box has twelve oldish Telugu movies by “Tri Star” which means the three big stars of Telugu cinema: Chiranjeevi, Venkatesh, and Nagarjuna.

The product’s description page at Bhavani doesn’t have very detailed information about the pack so I thought that I could make a simple list and take a few photographs of the contents of the pack in case that someone is considering whether to buy it or not.

The pack includes the EVP versions of the following DVDs:

  1. Chiranjeevi: Mutha Mestri (1993, 158 min) – English subtitles
  2. Chiranjeevi: Alluda Majaka (1995, 166 min) – English subtitles
  3. Chiranjeevi: Big Boss (1995, 153 min) – English subtitles
  4. Chiranjeevi: Mogudu Kaavaali (1980, 125 min)
  5. Nagarjuna: Allari Alludu (1993, 165 min)
  6. Venkatesh: Sankranthi (2005, 160 min)
  7. Nagarjuna: Rakshana (1993, 150 min)
  8. Nagarjuna: Shiva (1989, 145 min)
  9. Venkatesh: Nirnayam (1991, 164 min) – English subtitles
  10. Chiranjeevi: Kothala Rayudu (1979, 127 min)
  11. Venkatesh: Shatruvu (1990, 140 min)
  12. Venkatesh: Intlo Illalu Vantintlo Priyuralu (1996, 153 min)

Four of the 12 DVDs, including Mutha Mestri, come with English subtitles. Unfortunately the songs in Mutha Mestri aren’t subtitled but it’s of course more important to have subtitles in the actual dialogue. (I haven’t checked the song subs of the other movies.) I knew that not all of them would come with subtitles but it’s a pity that Shiva isn’t subbed, as Shiva DVD by Shalimar has the subs. Four of 12 isn’t a very good subtitle ratio but I think it was worth it for Mutha Mestri. The pack also includes Alluda Majaka which is YouTube-famous for a miraculous tractor fight and horse-sliding under a truck.


The case that contains the 12 DVDs is about the size of two regular DVD cases. It would solve all my storing space problems if all movies were packed like this.


The inside and the outside of the case.


The inside of the case with and without the discs. I hadn’t seen a DVD case mechanism like this before.


The diversity of different print styles on the discs is interesting…

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Superstar Project 4–5/174.

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kuselan-kathanayakudu WPIMDbLB (Tamil)
WPIMDbLB (Telugu)

It is finally the time to continue the Superstar Project. I finished watching P. Vasu’s Kathanayakudu (2008) already a couple of months ago but didn’t write anything about it until now. I hope I haven’t forgotten too many details. Kathanayakudu is the simultaneously shot Telugu version of the Tamil movie Kuselan that I had watched a couple of years ago. The movie is a remake of a 2007 Malayalam Mammootty film Katha Parayumpol. I haven’t seen the original version so I cannot do a remake comparison. Bollywood fans might know the story also from Shahrukh Khan’s 2009 remake Billu (which I haven’t seen either).

Ayngaran’s Kuselan DVD has slightly better picture quality than AP International’s Kathanayakudu DVD but both versions are watchable. The biggest difference between the movies (besides the language) is that the main character Balakrishna is played by a different actor (as well as his sidekick comedians). I like the Telugu version’s actor more so there must be a choice between nicer actor and better picture quality. (Kathanayakudu is also 12 minutes shorter than Kuselan but this time I didn’t check if there were any scenes missing.)

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Balakrishna (played by Pasupathy in Kuselan and Jagapati Babu in Kathanayakudu) is a poor barber who lives in a small village. One day his childhood friend Superstar Ashok Kumar (Superstar Rajinikanth) visits the village for the shooting of his new movies Chandramukhi 2 and Annamalai 2 (with Nayantara who is playing herself!). Surprisingly, Balakrishna is afraid to meet Ashok again. Does the superstar care about him anymore now that he is significantly richer than his old friend?

kuselan-100 Looks like the children have seen Rajinikanth’s Baasha.

I’m not sure why they named Rajinikanth’s character Ashok Kumar as it’s very clear that Rajinikanth is playing none other than himself. The film is full of references to his earlier work. It’s strange especially because Nayantara is playing herself without an imaginary character name.

Officially the movie was a flop and reviews that I’ve read have been mostly negative or neutral but I don’t see why. Maybe the audience didn’t expect this kind of film from Rajinikanth, as this is definitely not a typical Rajinikanth role. There’s no fighting against mafia or corrupt politicians. Instead, it’s just a simple story about friendship with a heart-touching climax. Superstar Rajinikanth, who despite the DVD covers and opening credits, is only in a supporting role (his character is not even introduced until the halfway through the first half of the film) while Balakrishna is really the main character. (However, Jagapati Babu who plays the main character in the Telugu version Kathanayakudu was nominated for Filmfare Awards South only in the best supporting actor category…)

Jagapati Babu came up with one of the finest performances of his career. This role demands a tremendous histrionics from the actor in Jagapati Babu and he does a wonderful job. His get-up is also good. But one wonders why he has light beard though he is doing the role of barber.

kuselan-vadivelu I’ve never seen anything like this.

While I agree with Idlebrain’s Kathanayakudu review about Jagapati Babu’s superb performance, I think their reviewer hasn’t heard of the famous two barbers puzzle: If there are just two barbers in the town, the barbers must shave each other’s beards and therefore the one with the messier beard is actually the better barber of the two! And in this case the other barber is played by Sunil who is famous for his comedy roles in Telugu movies… Sadly, it seems to be the other way around in the Tamil version Kuselan – Pasupathy doesn’t have a beard while Vadivelu’s mustache is the most horrible ever! (Oops. Now that I think of the puzzle again, I think it actually applies to hair cut and not beard shaving which is easier to do alone. But right now I’m too tired to come up with anything more intelligent.)

Meena plays Balakrishna’s wife in both versions (as well as in the original Malayalam version). Her role isn’t very large but she does a good performance. I haven’t yet seen many of her other films but I can’t wait to see some of them later during the Superstar Project!

It’s also always nice to see Prabhu who has a small role in the film.

Comedy could have been slightly trimmed. I liked Telugu version’s Sunil a little more than Tamil version’s Vadivelu. There are also other usual Telugu and Tamil comedians in minor roles, like M. S. Narayana, Ali, and Santhanam, but their jokes aren’t very memorable. I didn’t even recognize Brahmanandam from Kuselan but he was easier to locate after seeing the Telugu version where he does the talking instead of his Tamil friend.

The songs are awesome in this movie! My favourite one is Rajinikanth’s introduction song “Cinema cinema” which commemorates the 75th anniversary of Tamil cinema and has several cameo appearances by celebrities of the industry. “Om Zaarare” is also very catchy. The picturizations of these two also have very epic costumes! I like the other songs too.

♪ No one has seen God for real but Cinema shows them on screen. ♪

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zwVdzXJFCI&t=9s

Story 4
Star Power 4
Songs 4½
Comedy 2½
Overall 4

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I haven’t yet wrote anything about my reactions to Baahubali: The Beginning even though I loved it. I will probably write more after I’ve rewatched it again a couple of times when the DVD (or hopefully a Blu-ray) comes out. One of the highlights of the movie is Prabhakar who plays the barbarian chieftain. I happened to find a very nice video interview (with subtitles!) by iNews where Prabhakar tells about his experiences in the film industry. He discusses interesting topics like working with Rajamouli, Maryada Ramanna, Baahubali, some of his other movies, his friends’ reactions to his work, and so on. I was so delighted when I learnt that my to-watch DVD pile contains more than one movie where he has a small role!

If the video is too long, there is also a nice written interview by Idlebrain.com where he tells more or less the same things. Aww, he is so cute!

Prabhakar is also on Facebook and he just got a new fan.

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hrudaya-kaleyam WPIMDbLB

Hrudaya Kaleyam is a 2014 Telugu comedy film directed by Steven Sankar and starring Burning Star Sampoornesh Babu. This was his first film and I hadn’t heard anything about him before but I got interested after seeing the Sampoornesh Babu version of Baahubali trailer. I couldn’t find a DVD anywhere but MAA TV has uploaded the film on YouTube with English subtitles.

Sampoornesh Babu, played by Sampoornesh Babu, is apparently the best burglar in the world. A villain called Black Mamba (whose face is painted black) and 2222 policemen are after him. What happens when he gets caught? Why is he doing all the crimes? And what is the secret of the enormous thing that looks like a heart? Watch the movie to find out!

The movie isn’t as good as I hoped after seeing its trailer but it definitely has its moments and is worth watching. I’ve read a review that suggests that the dialogues are the best part of the film but I didn’t find most of them that good as I’m not that fluent in Telugu and still have to read the sometimes very cryptic subtitles. Some things are funny but most aren’t. One of the best things is that the movie is so short – 1:55 is almost a short film in Tollywood standards. However, after the lenghty flashback sequence when we get to know why Sampoornesh has been stealing things, the last 20 minutes are terrificly epic.

hrudaya-kaleyam-stunts

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  • I watched Mithun Chakraborty’s 1982 Hindi film Disco Dancer. Epic songs! Guitar-phobia! Very funny. 3½
  • I was interested to see Buster Keaton’s 1923 American silent film Our Hospitality because S. S. Rajamouli’s Maryada Ramanna (2010) is a remake of it. The story is approximately the same and some scenes are very similar between the two. The original is funny but not as funny as the remake.
  • For the same reason I watched the Australian short film Cockroach (2010) because some people claim that S. S. Rajamouli’s Eega (2012) is copied from it. I honestly didn’t see that many similiraties between the two.
  • Chiranjeevi’s Shankar Dada Zindabad (2007) was not as good as Shankar Dada MBBS (2004). It was a little confusing that they didn’t explain why the girl from MBBS wasn’t around anymore even though there were other references to the first part. Now there are still two or three Allu Arjun’s special appearances that I haven’t yet seen. 2½
  • I finally saw Ram Charan’s Govindudu Andarivadele (2014). Not as good as many of his other movies but still watchable. The Bunny thing was so funny! 3
  • Jr. NTR’s Rabhasa (2014) has very complicated story. I couldn’t keep track of everything but there were lots of funny things!
  • I rewatched A (1998) and Preethse (2000) with the friend who got hooked to Upendra after seeing Upendra. I liked A more when watching for the second time. Sometimes we got lost in the hierarchy of five(?) stacked levels of flashback.
  • Happy Days is a 2007 Telugu film starring Varun Sandesh and Tamanna Bhatia. It is a college drama that follows a group of friends through their studies. I found it quite enjoyable although there wasn’t much going on in the story. The format is very different from most of other South Indian films that I’ve seen. Most notably, the hero doesn’t have supernatural fighting powers and there’s no distinct comedic side plot.
  • I also watched a lot of older Prabhas movies. I’ll post more about them later.

Bonus clip: BUNNY KISS!

I was doing random YouTube surfing and found this clip from an old Filmfare Awards South event.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eb0e9inkERo

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ragada WPIMDbLB

Ragada is a 2010 Telugu film directed by Veeru Potla. It stars “King” Nagarjuna in the hero role, and the movie indeed repeatedly reminds the audience about who the king is. I actually started to watch the movie a couple of years ago but had to pause after 30 minutes and never remembered to continue. The plot has so many twists and turns that it would be hopeless to explain it all here, but basically it’s about the hero who likes money and doesn’t like the rich bad mafia guys who are threatening his mother and sister.

Previously I had seen two Veeru Potla’s films, Varsham (2004) and Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana (2005), which are both nice but in my opinion just around average level movies. Perhaps expectedly, so is Ragada. I haven’t seen too many of King Nagarjuna’s films but I’ve seen him quite a lot in Meelo Evaru Koteeswarudu, the Telugu version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (Which is very helpful in learning Telugu as the questions are shown in both Telugu and English. Also, many questions and special guests are related to Telugu cinema.) Ragada isn’t as good as some other Nagarjuna’s films, like Manam. But Nagarjuna still manages to show that he’s the King, at least in Ragada’s universe. I don’t really think he’s doing anything that other Tollywood heroes wouldn’t be capable to do.

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The female lead roles are played by Anushka Shetty and Priyamani, “bullet” and “chocolate”. Both of them have important roles in the story but are unfortunately forgotten a little before the end of the film. Ragada also nicely counts towards my goal to watch all movies by Anushka. I see her as one of the strongest of the current Tollywood heroines as she somehow has managed to successfully act in main role multiple times without a male hero in such a male-centric film industry. I believe I’ve now seen 9 of 36, or 25%.

Pradeep Rawat is the typical Tollywood villain. He shouts much and kicks furniture around. He does exactly what is expected and required from a Tollywood villain. One of the minor villains is played by Dev Gill and he’s of course good at it. He actually was my main reason to watch Ragada when I first tried to watch it some years ago, as I had seen him in Magadheera and he has acted in surprisingly small number of movies.

There are present also some of the compulsory but entertaining Tollywood things, such as Naga Chaitanya’s (Nagarjuna’s son) Ye Maaya Chesave movie poster at the background and a street fight that gathers a huge audience and when the baddies eventually run away, the spectators just leave the scene silently precisely at the same time.

Brahmanandam’s comedy is above his average, or at least easier to understand through subtitles than his usually dialogue-heavy jokes. His introduction scene is one of the funniest I’ve seen from him so far. I don’t think the character is too important for the storyline but he has a lot of screentime as his main purpose is flirting with Anushka.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiNgEBTkuCY

The clip above doesn’t have subtitles but the dialogue at the end goes like: “You’ll be out tomorrow, unnecessarily tried to escape today.” – “Tomorrow? I didn’t know that.” – “Don’t tell anyone about this, may get suspended for getting scared of a soap.” – “You must do one thing to keep that secret. Get me a new bar of soap, I need to take a bath.”

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Story 2½
Star Power 3½
Songs 2
Fights 2½
Comedy 3½
Overall 3
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The teaser of the most ever awaited S. S. Rajamouli’s epic Baahubali: The Beginning has been released! Full trailer will release on June 1. Unfortunately the apparently spectacular 1-crore audio launch function was postponed but it too will most probably happen very soon. I hope there will be a YouTube live stream available as it has been quite common thing for the audio release events of big budget Telugu (but for some reason not Tamil) films.

I think I saw some similarities to Rajamouli’s Magadheera. I wonder if Prabhas will defeat more than 100 men.

magabali

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With this post I’m starting yet another new experimental post series. This time it’s called Mega Power Quiz and it’s a quiz game for my (probably nonexistent?) readers. There might be no one who would be interested to take part in the game but that doesn’t stop me from creating questions! At least for now I don’t have any predefined schedule for new questions and I’ll just post one whenever I happen to come up with something that isn’t too easy to solve with Google. Unfortunately I cannot (at least not yet) offer any prizes for the winners but whoever is the first to post the correct answer in the comment section of this post will get 1 point and the leaders of the scoreboard can call themselves the Mega Power Sages of Indian cinema – how cool is that!


The first question might be an easy one if you’ve seen enough of these movies. The question is:
What is the connection between these twelve movies?

q1

  1. Patala Bhairavi (1951)
  2. Zabak (1961)
  3. Jalte Badan (1973)
  4. Shaan (1980)
  5. Adavi Donga (1985)
  6. Khoon Bari Maang (1988)
  7. Yaadein (2001)
  8. Ponnar Shankar (2011)
  9. Crocodile Love Story (2013)
  10. Jagadguru Adi Shankara (2013)
  11. I (2015)
  12. Uttama Villain (2015)

Hint #1 (added Nov 19, 2015): Thirteenth movie that would qualify to the above list would be the 2015 Tamil fantasy film Puli.

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Bollywood expedition update

I continued my Hindi adventures with a 7.5 hours long Dhoom marathon. I liked the third part the most. Abhishek looks just like young Amitabh! I also finally watched 7 Khoon Maaf and My Name Is Khan. All of these are very different than what I’ve used to by watching South Indian movies but still quite enjoyable.

Quick notes from recently watched South Indian movies

  • Kathaswamy: !!!
  • Aa Okkadu: I hoped it would have been better but it still is watchable at least once. Ajay’s role isn’t as big as one might think after seeing the cover. There is a song with some crazy editing and horrible clothing. I love the guys who write the plot summaries on DVDs’ back covers. “The rest of the film is all about whodunit!”
  • Businessman: This movie sadly had nothing special to offer. The hero doesn’t even have to face any major problems.
  • Upendra: I rewatched this one as requested in the end of the film because “IT’S A 2D FILM” but I really didn’t learn anything that I hadn’t get at the first watch. If I’m going to rewatch it again some day, I’ll have to count how many different outfits Upendra has. It has to be somewhere near the world record.
  • Vedam: I rewatched also this one and it’s still one of the best Telugu movies that I’ve seen!
  • Uttama Villain: Kamal Haasan’s newest movie is both very funny and sad at the same time. When comparing Kamal to Rajinikanth, the other big superstar of Tamil cinema, I have noticed that Kamal seems to make more “serious” films (with realistic gravity etc.) whereas Rajinikanth makes epic spectacles where nothing is impossible to him. At least during the 2010s. I should watch more Kamal movies to be sure. (Luckily I like both of these genres.)
  • Crocodile Love Story: Two lovers are trapped in a tree guarded by a hungry crocodile! The movie has its moments but it isn’t as good as it could have been (which is sad because I like crocodiles).
  • Shankar Dada M.B.B.S.: This was actually much better than I expected. I had to watch it because its sequel has Allu Arjun’s special appearance, but it was also nice to improve my knowledge of Chiranjeevi’s filmography as so far I’ve watched mostly the younger Telugu stars.

Bonus clip

Awesome usage of Nokia 2310 (a non-touchscreen model from 2006) in Vedam.

nokia2310

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