Legends of Visual Effects in Telugu Cinema.
Almost 2 weeks ago, Baahubali was released worldwide and it broke many of the box office records. The critics praised it as a ‘jaw-dropping visual spectacle‘ with great story and Indian film with best ever visual effects. SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali, combined India’s finest technical talent, state of the art visual effects and amazing story to make a feature Telugu cinema of which everybody is proud today.
It’s great to see such visual effects and computer graphics imagery in the films that have come far away in Telugu Cinema. Not to forget the legends who have brought the Telugu cinema this far and paved a way to it’s future. The Telugu Cinema can proudly claim that it’s own visual effects have had a strong impression in the Indian Film Industry.
Legends responsible for the future of visual effects in Telugu Cinema:
1. K.V. Reddy.
Kadiri Venkat Reddy or better known as KV Reddy is the pioneer of visual effects in Telugu Cinema. Well known for the extensive use of trick photography and camera effects in the films. The 3-time National award-winning writer and director has proved it in his works – ‘Pathala Bhairavi‘ and ‘ Maya Bazaar‘. Inspired by Kasi Majili Kathalu and Aladdin, Pathala Bhairavi was his first tryst with the visual effects. Very smoothly integrated into the story, struggle of Thota Ramudu and Nepala Mantrikudu. The movie was coupled by the legendary performance of SV Rangarao and NT Rama Rao with the visual effects rendered into a classic.
6 years later, KV Reddy made the magnum opus bilingual ‘MayaBazaar‘. Inspired by Sasirekha Parinayam from Mahabharata, the film showcased an amazing slice of Mahabharata with splendid camerawork, spell bounding visual effects and fascinating trick photography. The scenes involving SV Rangarao as Ghatothkachudu in the latter half of the movie which includes the famous Vivaha Bhojanambu are pure gold. KV Reddy garu was known for his collaborations with the Anglo Indian cinematographer Marcus Bartley. His other films like Sri Krishnarjuna Yuddham and Sri Krishna Satya also had some visual effects. It’s true when they say – ‘It all started with KV Reddy garu’s imagination’.
Fact sheet: Mayabazar was made with an estimated budget of ₹200,000 in the ’50s. After a year of the Movie’s pre-production, it had a crew of about 400 studio workers (including light men, carpenters and painters) including the technical crew.
2. B. Vittalacharya.
Vittalacharya also fondly known as ‘Janapada Brahma’, is known for his strong influence in usage of folk based tales in his films. He also brought in a lot of techniques to showcase the visual effects in the Telugu Cinema. Blended with mystique and myth, Vithalacharya’s Jaganmohini, Lakshmi Kataksham and Varalakshmi Vratham have won both critical and commercial acclaim. His Jaganmohini still remains a cult classic even today.
3. N.T.Rama Rao.
Source: Telugu now
This name does not need any introductions. Apart from being a charismatic actor onscreen, NT Rama Rao is credited as a bold and a distinct filmmaker for his wide variety of his films with majority of mythological themes explored. In his films like Brahmarishi Vishwamitra, Sri Madvirata Parvam, Sri Madvirat Veera Brahmendra Swamy Charitra, Daana Veera Soora Karna, Srikrishna Pandaveeyam, Sr. NTR used some good visual effects to showcase the long forgotten epics. Daana Veera Soora Karna is credited as an all time classic made in the history of Telugu Cinema for its grand scale of production and storytelling.
Factsheet: With a runtime of 4 hours and 16 minutes, Daana Veera Soora Karna costed ₹10,00,000. It was the 1st film to collect over a whooping ₹1,00,00,000 back in 1977. The film was completed in 43 working days. NT Rama Rao wrote and directed this film and also played a triple role in it. The movie was re-released in 1994 and collected ₹1,00,00,000 at the box office.
Bapu‘s love for sweeping visuals and distinct perspective of art makes him one of the most acclaimed artists in his Telugu Cinema. Director Bapu brings a strong flavor to his visuals in his films. From transferring beautiful sketches on his storyboard to the screen, Bapu has brought in brilliant visual effects to his films. Some of his films are Sampoorna Ramayanam, Seetha Kalyanam, Bhakta Kannappa and Sri Ramanjaneya Yuddham. His collaborations with late cameraman VSR Swamy and cinematographer Ravikant Nagaich, known for his trick photography, have imprinted unforgettable visuals. His last film Sri Ramarajyam released in 2011 was known was for using benchmark Computer Generated Imagery. With his vision, Bapu made Lava Kusa immortal.
5. Kodi Ramakrishna.
Along with K Raghavendra Rao and Dasari Narayana Rao, Kodi Ramakrishna holds the credit of directing over 100 films. All through his career, Mr. Ramakrishna has extensively experimented with visual effects mainly over films revolving around mythology and fantasy themes. In 1999, Kodi Ramakrishna made Ammoru revolving around a goddesses’s plans to save her beloved devotee. Ammoru is credited as the first film to use explicit computer generated imagery. Ammoru opened to full houses and won unanimous critical and commercial acclaim. The climax sequences of the goddesses confrontation with the villain generated in CG drew repeated audiences. Kodi Ramakrishna continued his fascination of visual effects to films like Devi, Devi Putrudu and Devullu. In 2004, Kodi Ramakrishna made Anji with Chiranjeevi. In production for over 6 years, Anji explored a beautiful socio fantasy theme revolving around Lord Shiva. The movie had splendid visual effects done by International artistes. The movie went on to win a National Award for its special effects. In 2009, Kodi Ramakrishna made Arundathi, a classic war tale between a queen and a aghora. The movie had mind blowing computer imagery along with great cinematography. It set the Sankranti 2009 box office on fire and went on to become one of the highest grossing films of that year. Many sequences of Arundathi have been praised to have visual effects of standards on par with International films.
Source: Mana Telugu Movies
Along with lavish sets, Gunasekhar’s films revolve around themes which are visually very powerful. Right from Bala Ramayanam back in 2000, his films Okkadu, Arjun, Sainikudu, Varudu have used visual effects for the grand action sequences. In the coming September, Gunasekhar’s dream project Rudramadevi is about to release. Touted to be India’s first stereoscopic 3D films, Rudramadevi is expected to have visual effects made by artistes from across the globe.
Source: Tamil Cinema News
Though, Shankar’s home turf is Tamil cinema, he commands a box office presence on par with Telugu directors. Shankar is credited to have brought in visual effects seamlessly blending into his films which reflect socially conscious protagonists. He first used an innovative technique to shoot the cult classic Mukkala song (featuring Prabhu Deva’s splendid dance performance) in the movie Kadhalan. The song involved a levitating dress making some cool dance moves.
His film Bharateeyudu with Kamal Haasan was his first explicit tryst with computer graphics. He went to use graphics for his next films Jeans and Oke Okkadu where he used computer graphics to enhance the environment of his stories. Recreating a Dinosaur in Jeans and an entire song and dance sequence in Oke Okkadu have entertained the audience during the late 90’s and early 2000s. Shankar used many innovative camera effects like big-freeze, matrix-effects to shoot the song sequences in Boys which were a big hit among the youth back in 2003. Yet another socio-fantasy-thriller Aparichitudu in which Shankar extensively used visual effects in the entire movie. About 50% of the film had computer-generated imagery blend into the motion picture. He went a step ahead and pushed the bar ahead with Sivaji.
He went all out with Robot in 2010 to create a parallel world of mechatronics. Revolving around scientists and robots, Robot never had such jaw-dropping visual effects on Indian screen. The movie had extensive green mat techniques and 3D imagery generated by international artistes under the supervision of V. Srinivas Mohan. Robot set a benchmark very high and put Indian cinema on the International arena. 3 time National award winning VFX specialist Srinivasa Mohan and his team of cinematographers – KV Anand, R Rathnavelu, Ravi K Chandran and V Manikandan have given Shankar’s vision the much needed richness in his projection.
8. S.S. Rajamouli.
Source: The Hans India
A protégé of ‘Darshakendrudu‘ K Raghavendra Rao, SS Rajamouli holds a unique distinction of having 100% commercial success with his films. SS Rajamouli used computer graphics for an action sequence back in 2005 in Chatrapathi. Though criticized for its quality, Rajamouli started infusing his films with his quality of fearless imagination and radical thinking. Taking a step ahead, Rajamouli made Yamadonga with Jr. NTR in 2007. A socio-fantasy film, which runs in the world above us, Rajamouli used visual effects to create the Yamalokam like never before. The icing on the cake was the specially generated by NTR who joined his grandson with dance and a dialogue. Yamadonga brought back the long forgotten trend of fantasy films in Tollywood, which then was in the rage of action entertainers. Rajamouli went ahead and hit the jackpot with Magadheera. Inspired by the Amar Chitra Katha, Magadheera not only became a classic but went ahead to redefine the dynamics of mainstream Telugu cinema. There was an extensive usage of concept art, green mat generated CGI effects and large-scale visual effects. Rajamouli transported the audience into a world of jaw dropping grandeur of warriors, kings, queens and palaces. Magadheera took Telugu Cinema and put it right on the international circuit. The movie became a classic because of visual effects which were made look natural, believable and which seamlessly crept into the real time visuals. Rajamouli made Maryada Ramanna, which intelligently mashed visual effects into the storyline.
The meter didn’t stop there. Rajamouli next made Eega. The crazy crackling story of a housefly’s revenge over a lust struck billionaire. The movie used visual effects not only to create a endearing big eyed housefly but all its histrionics to take down its rival. From the micro world of Eega to the macro world of Sudeep, the picture perfect vision of Rajamouli made Eega a cerebrally pleasing experience. THe movie not only took the name of Telugu cinema farther around the globe but also reiterated the strength of the medium in cinema.
And then came the epic BAAHUBALI – THE BEGINNING. The movie was meshed in from the inspirations of India’s legendary epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Baahubali, India’s largest motion picture with the highest ever budget for visual effects and computer generated imagery made a new world of Mahishmati. The movie’s chilling war sequences, athletic mountain climbing and visual oozing with grandeur of ancient India deeply crept into the minds of the cinemagoers. More than 6000 visual effects artistes from across the globe have collaborated for this visual masterpiece. Baahubali is credited to be the best ever Telugu cinema made in the Indian film industry. Rajamouli made this film one of the highest grossers in Indian cinema smashing the every existing box office record across pan record. Baahubali – The Conclusion, the sequel will release in the next year. A special mention to Rajamouli’s team cinematographer KK Senthil Kumar, Rajamouli’s VFX team which includes – National Award winning Srinivasa Mohan, Sharath, Kamal Kannan and Pete Draper, who brought a lot of flair to his vision to set a benchmark which will remembered for ages to come.
Southie : Surya Tej Borra