Thursday, April 22, 2010

Magadheera - Re-defining 'inspiration'



One of the many effects Hollywood has had on the world has been the oft misused instance of the word ‘inspired’. Almost every other flick, particularly from a craze-maze hotch-potch called (in somewhat un-Shakespearean way) Bollywood, is being quoted as being a remake of a product from that mountain city in the United States. And sadly, so wrapped are we with Bollywood that we rarely pay attention to the magic being woven in regional cinema. True – not all of us Indians are blessed with either the resources or the time to sit through those select few that filter past the much revered National Awards or the more drooled after yet eternally scoffed at Academy Awards. But nevertheless there is no denying that there is some serious work being done in our regional territories to up the standards of traditional cinema making over the last decade.

One among them – with all due respect to my home ground Karnataka where cinema has somehow lost its way in a bizarre forest infected with cannibalistic mediocrity – is the South Indian cinema scene. It is no secret that Bangalore possibly has more Tamil and Telugu cinema goers than Kannada cine-aficionados. And yes – there is no denying that the kind of stories written in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam have forever been rich sources from where our hapless Kannada film makers have continued to pour themselves generous buckets of words from. Hence, being a fellow who enjoys good, entertaining cinema regardless of language, I have indulged in non-Hindi, non-English, non-Kannada cinema several times too. I have seen movies in International tongues like Spanish, Polish, Hungarian, German et al and regional ones like Tamil, Marathi, Bengali to name a few. The one language I somehow never managed to see many movies in has been Telugu. The only two movies I can recall, not including Magadheera, are Shankarabharanam and Bommarillu.

And so – to increment my Telugu movie counter, I decided to take a gamble on the 2009 release of mega-star Chiranjeevi’s son Ram Charan Teja’s flick – Magadheera. I had heard rave reviews about how brilliant this movie was last year and so it was only apt that I leapt at the first Blue-Ray version that came my way.

First things first – Magadheera isn’t a brilliant movie. It is an AWESOME movie. And no – not for the storyline which is as old as the gorgeous yet fake hills that stand majestically in the backdrop of its sequences. Magadheera is a benchmark in Indian cinema purely because it shows the other film makers what exactly ‘inspired from’ means. It is a slap on the faces of those beer bellied producers whose only homework would have been to pour some scotch and come up with the magical equation…

Known hero + Hot girl + Rain dance + Love story + Family sentiment + Needless songs + Cliché fights + Cheesy dialogues + Mandatory rape attempt + Revenge saga + x = SCRIPT

The ‘x’ is usually the variables that go into making another hackneyed desi version of what was probably a decent original in Hollywood or elsewhere. What Magadheera does successfully is convert what could easily have been another run-of-the-mill love story into an epic. And how? By converting what could be termed ‘copy’ into the right meaning of the word ‘inspiration’.

The story of Magadheera is that of rebirth. Yes – as I mentioned there is nothing new in this bottle of tales. And hence, the story unfolds in two separate time periods – 1600 and now. Needless to say, if you have seen the publicity material for the movie, you’d have guessed that the warrior look for the hero is from the former period. So in this dish of recurring love, recurring enmity, recurring friendship and reappearing memories, we have a pretty straight forward story to narrate. But there – right there – is the difference as clear as that of an apple and an orange. I can safely say I have never seen such a flawless execution of visual effects and 3D imagery in Indian cinema before. It has artwork that can be easily put in the same column as visual masterpieces like '300' and 'Lord of the Rings'! The breathtakingly gorgeous ravines and valleys, the giant statue of Lord Shiva on Mount Bhairava, the shots of Udaigarh and the royal palace interiors and game ground, the white sand deserts that lay for hundreds of miles on the outskirts of the city - every detail simply oozes with master strokes. It is clear that the director, S.S.Rajamouli, not only understands international cinema but also knows how to translate it to fit our local needs.

Some brilliant scenes come to mind –

- The opening credits where paintings are used to capture the mood of the movie.
- The opening scene which starts by the depiction of the last few moments of what appears to have been a gruesome battle.
- The way our hero, in his former life as a royal guard, kills exactly 100 men from barbarian King Sher Khan’s shaitaan ki fauj on Mount Bhairava. Very reminiscent of '300' where murder was more an art form rather than a violent act of crime. Spectacularly shot.
- The scenes depicting the royal palace in Udaigarh and its exotic interiors.
- The scene on Mount Bhairava with a jaw dropping view of the Aravali mountains in the backdrop. Phew – the list goes on.

Having written enough reviews highlighting the story, music, performances, action and direction, I thought it was time to talk about a movie that works so well just for its sheer presentation quality, that even if at times the other departments feel a tad jaded, there isn’t much harm done. Here’s a grand round of applause to the technical team of Magadheera for finally cutting the BS between mundane ‘copy paste’ and true inspired work.

Well done folks! Hopefully now we will see some serious attention given to the word ‘inspiration’ in our Indian cinematic circles before being bandied about recklessly.

11 reflections:

lakshmi said...

Excellent Article Bro!

ShaK said...

@Lakshmi

Thank you for the response, mate. Glad to note you liked it!

Cheers,

SK

Anonymous said...

Does somebody know where is located this so fascinating statue of lord Shiva wich is filmed in Magadheera? Thank you

Sravan said...

Great article. Magadheera is the best visual effects movie made in India. I have shown it to some of my non-Telugu friends and they were simply speechless and were wonder if it really was a Telugu film.

What I find amazing is why these kind of films aren't being attempted in Hindi as they can afford higher budgets and the visuals can be even more spectacular. It seems that Bollywood is really lacking some imagination at the moment. Maybe they need to be "inspired" by regional cinema a bit more.

karthik said...

Hiii! bro i've jus seen ur review, the way u look at the movie is relly fantastic(i mean like minute points)...may b u atleast made 2 think few people how 2 watch a movie... not songs,fights,dances all the time...
Really Magadheeera is visual treat...
Cheersss...!

TL said...

hmmmm..."to each his own"..you have put down the movie KLS giving illogical reasoning by characters as the reason, and yet you praise a movie that has nothing in terms of story - sans the special effects - here. Truly..i could not stand this movie after the first 30 mins..which goes into the gizzilionth degree of silliness..

ShaK said...

@TL

Magadheera never pretended to be something it was not. It was supposed to be a fantasy/special effects/rebirth story which it absolutely was. KLS on the other hand was supposed to be a 'love story' but the essentials of a love story went missing somewhere along the way. My rationale to call Magadheera a brilliant film rests on the fact that it was an honest attempt at highlighting an old wine but in a brand new bottle. KLS claimed it was creating something new but ended up making a huge mess of the plot with inane and irrational decisions by the protagonists.It is in these differences that Magadheera scores big time.

Thank you for the response. Much appreciated.

Cheers,

SK

Kannadiga said...

Bro,

In the hurry to praise Magadheera you have done a gross generalisation of Kannada Movies. I doubt if you really watch any to even make a statement on the same.

As you have only mentioned most scenes are straight lift from 300 and Lord of the Rings (Counting and Killing... final theme song is a straight lift from enya's song in LOTR) . We kannadigas are not foolish like Telugu biddas to accept Copy Paste movies which you say is not present in Magadheera.. I recommend watch LOTR all three parts once and then watch your great Magadheera you will see the shameless flicking of the scenes, dialogues and even theme music

As usual you are another typical Kannadiga who take pride in putting down their own movie industry to show your Vishwa Manavatva in praising other stale stuff

To this day its only Kannada Movies which are consistently winning national and international awards. Even Commercial Cinemas (Good ones which come time and again) make more profit than most of your so called other movie industries. We have the highest number of swarna kamalas amongst all indian languages. Needless to say you do not watch them ..

Swati Sapna said...

You like Magadheera! I loved it too :) And i thought it was brilliantly executed. Old wine in a new bottle, yes... but whatte a new bottle man! Love the opening sequence, love the fight scene and love the songs :)
I have not seen any kannada films, but I do try and watch as many Telugu and Tamil films as I can... and sometimes Bengali. Since these are the languages I know. And what you say is true, so many times Bollywood overshadows all the good work being don in these regional languages! Have heard great things about this Bong flick "Bhooter Bhobishyot" - thats next on my list now :)

niki said...

This movie is indian power of visual, script,hero,direction stamina.

niki said...

Indian screen visual effect., amazing
movie., The power of INDIAN CINEMA.

 
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