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|September 5, 1997||
He's also a cool young man -- very grunge, suave, with it, at ease surfing in Mauritius, Tabu in tow, for Jab Dil Pe Koi Aati Hai.
Or perhaps because it was a good film.
Or perhaps because Nagarjuna's portrayal was stunning enough, in an unfamiliar persona, to merit a second visit.
Annamacharya -- or Annamayya -- was, legend has it, a poet whose muse was Balaji, the lord of the seven hills (Tirupati, to give it the more familiar name). Annamayya's curriculum vitae includes an estimated 32,000 kirtanas and krithis. Mostly on the subject of the deity he adored, but a few also casting a rebellious, iconoclastic look at prevailing social evils (we refer, here, to the period 1408-1503).
Discrimination against women was a favourite theme -- though in the event, Annamayya did marry two women, his own nieces -- and legend, again, holds that the chief guest, if incognito, at the wedding was none other than Lord Balaji himself. More factually, Annamayya was the court poet of Narasimha Raya of the Penukonda satrapy.
Annamayya, thus, ranks among the immortal names in Telugu literature and religion -- and thus provided obvious inspiration for film producer V Doraiswamy Raju who, just incidentally, happens to be a member of the Tirupati Devasthanam. Raju roped in K Raghavendra Rao to direct and, in a casting coup of epic proportions, also roped in Nagarjuna to star as the poet while Suman, another of the commercially viable heroes in Telugu cinema, plays Lord Balaji.
Unit members of VMC Productions talk of how they had to erect a replica of the Tirupathi shrine, as photography/cinematography is prohibited within the environs of probably the most popular, and certainly the most cash rich, temple in India today.
While authenticity of locale might be a talking point, it is Nagarjuna's hugely realistic -- seasoned critics have tended to use superlatives -- performance that has wowed the down south audience. And, in the process, indicated that there is more to Nagarjuna than mere youth, and anger.
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