10 Years to Athadu – A movie that defined “Clean Entertainment”.
A lot of times when an average Telugu viewer is glued to the TV on Saturday or Sunday during prime movie time, the chances that he is watching Athadu is very high. The cult classic starring Mahesh Babu and Trisha and directed by “Maatala Mantrikudu” Trivikram Srinivas completes 10 years. In many ways, Athadu reinvented the wheel of Telugu Cinema which then was in the hype of Rayalaseema based faction films or melodrama soaked revenge dramas. Whenever we talk of “repeat value” of cinema, Athadu undoubtedly figures on the top. When the satellite rights of the film expired in 2012, MAA TV reportedly paid close to Rs 3.5 crores which is a record in South Indian Cinema to renew the rights.. Athadu wasn’t just a well made or an entertaining film. It was much more! It strongly invested in the intelligence of the cinema audience who came in to watch it. Be it the action sequences, the comedy or the heart touching family values, Athadu was a complete wholesome Telugu film. It wasn’t the biggest of the commercial successes but a contemporary classic in Telugu Cinema.
Even when you watch it today, you would still be hooked on to it. There is a certain charm and feel to it. As the film completes 10 years and continues to be timeless, here some amazing ingredients according to our guest writer Surya Teja, a movie buff which went into making “Athadu”.
1. The charm of Mahesh Babu.
Everytime Mahesh does a film, he tries and break away from what he has done previously. If Okkadu made Mahesh Babu a star, Athadu catapulted him to the next level. Apart from taking a bold decision to playing a grey character of a high profile professional killer, Mahesh Babu is the heart of Athadu. With sharp intensity in his eyes and minimal dialogue delivery, Mahesh delivered one of his career best performances. At different parts of the film, Mahesh displays different shades to “ Nandu alias Pardhu” apart from being his best in the spectacular action sequences. When people called Mahesh a director’s actor, Athadu can’t but be the best proof to it.
Fun Fact: The role of Pardhu travelled to many actors before it landed in the doorstep of Mahesh Babu. Probably it was destined to be so! 😉
2. The legendary taking by Trivikram Srinivas.
“Maatala Mantrikudu” Trivikram Srinivas’s dialogues have a special place in hearts of every Telugu cinema lover. After Jandhyala, Trivikram is said to be the most versatile yet most entertaining with his dialogues touching upon different themes in life. Trivikram went a step ahead and unleashed his story telling magic in Athadu. From a deserted highway in Andhra Pradesh, Trivikram made the story of Athadu travel to old city in Hyderabad to party offices and a palatial home in West Godavari and finally ends it in a classic church. Meshing it with a multitude of themes, Trivikram blended storytelling seamlessly into visual splendour apart from drawing strong performances from actors like Mahesh, Sonu Sood, Kota Srinivasa Rao, Nassar, Tanikella Bharani and Sunil. Trivikram went on to make many blockbusters later but Athadu stands tall in his body of work.
Fun Fact: Trivikram’s favorite author was the great Telugu writer Yaddanapudi Sulochana Rani. He named his character Pardhu after one of Rani’s popular novels Pardhu. Mahesh won the “Nandi Award for Best Actor” for Athadu.
3. The “Organic” Humor.
Anjaneya Prasad : “Nenu Central Bureau of Investigation ninchi vastunna.:
Anjaneya Prasad : “Central Bureau of Investigation.”
Mamayya : “Ademanna kotta insurance company na?”
Anjaneya Prasad : “C.B.I”
Mamayya : “Oh!”
The most loved and remembered among Athadu many scenes are the comedy ones. Situational, conversational and strongly funny, the humor in Athadu organically fits into the narrative. Be it the murder deal to kill Baji Reddy, Babji’s revenge plot to kill Pardhu, Mahesh lesson to Naidu for encroachment or Trisha and Bramhanandam’s tussle with Mahesh, every scene fits right into the screenplay with the right balance. Sunil in the 1st half and Brahmanandam in the 2nd half are special icing on the cake with their spot on comic timing.
Knowledge is devine 😉
4. The stylish yet to over the head actions sequences.
In many of the benchmarks, Athadu has set the way the action sequences were designed and performed was one. Apart from being unconventional, the action did away from being over the top and grand but was more real and dynamic. A word also to KV Guhan intuitive camera work during the action sequences. Be it the close ups during the fist fights or the swish pans during the face offs, the action sequences by Peter Hein were very entertaining. Right from moment go till the grand church climax with big freeze moments with complicated camera movements, Athadu pushed the bar high for stunts in Telugu Cinema. Apart from being real and gritty, the way Trivikram infused humor into the conflict between Naidu and Pardhu is impressive. The fist fight between Pardhu and Naidu’s henchman is one of the best fights in Telugu cinema.
Fun Fact: Athadu was one of the first South Indian films to use the “big freeze” effect in films.
5. Razor Sharp Dialogues.
Anjaneya Prasad : “Baaji reddy gaaruuu, Shiva reddy chaste meeru C.M avutaaru, Kaani Siva reddy ni champite meeru nerastudu avutaaru. Inta chinna logic ela miss ayyaru meeruu?”
Meaningful, powerful, sharp, intense, relevant and rooted… I can go on!
By the way I was describing Trivikram’s dialogues.
When you look forward for a Trivikram’s films, 9 out of 10 times you look forward for his dialogues. Apart from being a very important part of the story, Trivikram wrote some classic dialogues in Athadu. Trivikram sprinkles his words with a strong dose of intelligent sarcasm and powerful metaphors apart from the brilliant wordplay. Be it the funny yet intimidating conversation between Kota and Mahesh on the phone, the heart tugging lines of Nasser for Mahesh or the rib ripping fun liners of Sunil and Brahmanandam or the Prakash Raj’s lines of sarcasm, there are many dialogues from Athadu which crept into the Trivikram fan pages and TV Shows.
Fun Fact: Trivikram won the “Nandi Award for Best Dialogues “ for the 5th time with Athadu. As usual!
6. Family Values which hold the spine of the story.
Trivikram’s film are known for the strong family values. When family dramas are synonymous with melodrama and stereotypic characters, Athadu has real drama. The family in Athadu has everybody – the innocent yet close friend, the short tempered yet caring grandfather, the affectionate aunts, the funny yet inimitable uncles, the doting relatives and the irreplaceable cousins. Between these people, Trivikram writes heart touching scenes full of beautiful dialogues and genuine feeling. The scene where Mahesh writes out a cheque for Nassar or the scene where Mahesh’s aunt narrates the story of the statues in the pooja room and his mother to Mahesh and the final faceoff between Sunil and Mahesh’s family are pure gold.
Fun Fact: For the character of Nasser, Late actor Shobhan Babu was initially considered which did not materialise. Sobhan Babu even rejected a “blank cheque” for the role.
7. Unpredictability of the plot.
The beauty of Athadu is its unpredictability. Apart from the technical finesse and story telling, Athadu benefits from a mysterious unpredictability rooted in its story. When you watched it for the first time, you didn’t know what came next. You were shell surprised when it came and wanted to go back and watch it all over again. The super secret murder of Narsing, the crossover of assassination plan by Mahesh, the visiting card scene between Anjaneya Prasad and Pardhu and the cat and mouse game in the climax, the entire runtime of Athadu was filled with many edgy moments. Trivikram didn’t just stop there but went ahead and put some in his comedy scenes too.
Fun Fact: Trivikram won the “”Filmfare Award for Best Director” for Athadu.
8. Strong Support Characters.
Satya Narayana Murthy : “Rojulu gadiste marchipotam antaaru….. Kaani… marchipovadaniki vaadu eamina gnaapakamaa, naa jeevitham”
It is not an exaggeration when you tell every other character in Athadu is a strong author backed role. Be it the foe turned friend Malli, the sharp yet focused CBI cop Anjaneya Prasad, the over egoistic Naidu, the old school grand father Satya Narayana murthi, the super enthusiastic Pardhu(original), over smart and over ambitious politician Baaji Reddy, the bad yet good criminal Sadhu and many other actors, every character essentially makes a mark on you and has a presence in the story. Every character has an individuality and a unique texture to the story which adds a characteristic recall to them
Fun Fact: Did you know that SP Balu dubbed for Nasser in Athadu film? It takes very good ears to make that out! 🙂
9. Technical Finesse and Production Values.
Telugu films have always been known to get the best of the technicians across the borders to work for the film. Some of the best in their fields have collaborated on Athadu which included KV Guhan’s adaptable camera work which is intuitive and imaginative at the same time apart from the visual effects and camera sequences which blend effortlessly into the frames, Thotta Tarani’s production design – the beautiful house and Peter Hein’s brilliant action sequences. National Award winner Sreekar Prasad was the editor while “Swara Brahma” Mani Sharma scored the tunes. A special word of mention to the brilliant background score. The lyrics written by Sirivennela for all the songs and the beautiful title song by Vishwa. Athadu is also one of those movies where we see money being pumped into making the movie actually with rich and uncompromising making values by Jayabheri Art Productions.
Fun Fact: Athadu was dubbed into Polish for a release in Poland as a Poszukiwany (Seeking) thus becoming the first Telugu film released in Poland. Polish is the native language of filmmaking legends like Roman Polanski and Krzysztof Kieślowski by the way!
10. Mahesh – Trisha Chemistry:
Poori : Nenuu vasta
Pardhu/Nandu : Nene vasta
There is a beautiful love story of Pardhu and Puri which runs undercurrent in Athadu. It starts with Trisha mesmerised by Pardhu, then getting jealous at his flashbacks, fighting with him and then actually falling in love with him. The thing about the romance in this film or most Trivikram films is the way he keeps the romance so real and so relatable like how it happened to you or your friend? Using the chemistry of the lead pair to extract some brilliant comedy is a job very few filmmakers can do!
What are you waiting for? Go and revisit the classic Athadu!
Southie: Surya Tej Borra
Surya, based out of Hyderabad works in Google. An evangelist of internet and digital space, he takes keen interest in cinema, spirituality, travel, music, books and cooking vegetarian food.