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Ramayana magic recreated in Telugu

Last updated on: November 16, 2011 12:15 IST

Ramayana magic recreated in Telugu

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Radhika Rajamani in Hyderabad

In the early and middle decades of the last century, several mythological films were made in Telugu revolving around the epics and stories from the Puranas, with actors such as the late N T Rama Rao (famous for his portrayals of Rama, Krishna, Duryodhana, etc), Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Chittoor Nagaiah, Kanta Rao (known for his Narada roles), S V Ranga Rao, Relangi, and Gummadi.

Now, well-known director Bapu is recreating the Ramayana magic in Sri Ramarajyam, releasing on November 17.


Image: A scene from Sri Ramarajyam

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Yalamanchali Sai Babu is producing this mythological magnum opus, in which Nandamuri Balakrishna plays Rama, a role made famous by his father, the late NTR.

Nayantara portrays Seetha, Srikanth is Lakshmana and Sai Kumar is Bharatha. The sage Valmiki is played by Akkineni Nageswara Rao. Vindoo Dara Singh is Hanuman. 


Image: A scene from Sri Ramarajyam

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Ramayana magic recreated in Telugu

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Yalamanchili Saibabu says that what gave him the idea for the film was a religious ritual performance at a Rama Sai temple in Chintakunta village near the holy place Srisailam. "I thought it would be nice to do something related to Lord Rama. I contacted a friend and we immediately embarked on this project," he said.

But is the Ramayana relevant in today's world? Saibabu says: "The essence of the values and culture of our greatest epics is truly needed today."

"Ram is a great personality; he is a great administrator, a husband and a warrior. He is an inspiring persona whom I admire. There was no better way to convey the message of the Ramayana to the populace other than celluloid and thus this movie has taken shape."

 


Image: A scene from Sri Ramarajyam

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Ramayana magic recreated in Telugu

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Director Bapu has taken the plot from Uttara Kanda of the Ramayana. "Many people only know about the first six chapters of the Ramayana, until the defeat of Ravana and return of Lord Rama and Sita from exile. Uttara Kanda has long been forgotten and its essence is needed to resonate and promote family values," feels Saibabu. 

Bapu and his friend and associate Mullapudi Venkata Ramana (who passed away while the film was being made) have written the script. The Bapu-Ramana combo has enthralled audiences with innumerable good films, three of them -- Sampoorna Ramayanam, Sriramanjaneya Yuddham and Seeta Kalyanam -- based on the Ramayana.



Image: A scene from Sri Ramarajyam

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Ramayana magic recreated in Telugu

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On how he chose Bapu, Saibabu says, "I couldn't think of anyone more noteworthy and truly knowledgeable than Bapu and Ramana, who have dedicated their lives to the story of the Ramayana through varied artworks and movies. They were enthralled as well and put their skills to work. Bapu's artwork combined with Ramana's script will please Telugu audiences. This movie is a dedication to their friendship and the efforts of Bapu and Ramana."


Image: A scene from Sri Ramarajyam

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Ramayana magic recreated in Telugu

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Ilaiyaraja scores the music for this film, his first for a mythological in Telugu.

Lyrics for all the songs were written by Jonnavithula.

The music of the film was released at the temple of Sri Rama on the banks of the Godavari in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh.

There are a number of singers -- S P Balasubrahmanyam, Chitra, Shreya Ghoshal, Tippu, Shwetha, Anitha, Keerthana and Sravani.


Image: A scene from Sri Ramarajyam

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Ramayana magic recreated in Telugu

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Regarding the casting, Saibabu says, "It was a team effort, we were able to rope in all the actors we wanted to play the roles."

It's a dream role for Balakrishna and Nayantara, who play the leads. This is the second mythological film for Balakrishna after Pandurangadu, and made on a much bigger budget.

"After watching Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao playing Lord Rama, enticing millions of Telugu viewers over decades, there was no one better to take his place than his son Nandamuri Balakrishna, who had already done mythological roles with passion. After casting him, the other roles were instantly filled up," adds Saibabu.

Balakrishna wears the same crown and jewellery that his father wore in the film Lava Kusha, besides wielding the same bow! It is said that both the lead actors abstained from eating non-vegetarian food during the shooting of the film.


Image: A scene from Sri Ramarajyam

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Ramayana magic recreated in Telugu

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Others in the cast include seasoned actors Murali Mohan (Janaka), K R Vijaya (Kausalya), AVS (Narada) and Brahmanandam.

The film is said to be Nayantara's swan song as she is expected to marry Prabhu Deva soon. She has not signed any film after Sri Ramarajyam.

The cinematography is by PRK Raju and the film is edited by G G Krishna Rao. Ravinder is the art director.


Image: Movie poster of Sri Ramarajyam

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An epic such as this requires grand sets and Saibabu says art director Kiran and his staff at Ramoji Film City, worked really hard to create the magnificent sets. "We had 300 plus carpenters to build various durbar sets. We also shot the movie on the outskirts of Hyderabad where we erected the Valmiki Ashram set done by art director Ravi."

The audio of Sri Ramarajyam has sold well. Saibabu says the film is much talked about in Andhra Pradesh.

So expectations are riding high on this mythological extravaganza.



Image: Movie poster of Sri Ramarajyam

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