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September 30, 1999


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Zero se heroine

Choodalani Vundi Anjala Jhaveri may have fizzled out in Bollywood, but she's turning out to be Telugu cinema's lucky mascot. It began when her debut film, Preminchu Kundam Raa... (also starring Ventakesh), became the biggest grosser of 1997. Then Chiranjeevi did Choodalani Vundi with her, which turned out to be last year's biggest hit. When it was followed by Samarasimha Reddy with Balakrishna, this year's biggest hit yet, the entire industry swore that Anjala guaranteed a film's success.

Which could be why Nagarjuna, who is desperate for a hit, is doing a Viyanathi Movies film with Anjala under the direction of the highly successful Jayanth Paranji (Preminchu Kundam Raa, Bavagaru Bagunnara and Premantey Idhera).

This musical thriller with 10 songs has Nagarjuna playing a pop singer who performs abroad. Bipasha Basu is the other attraction.

Nagarjuna, who has not had a single release this year or a single hit in the last, is banking on this film. Even his successful team with Krishna Vamshi (Ninney Pelladata) failed with Nagarjuna home production, Chandra Lekha.

Hello brothers!
Pavan Kalyan, Chiranjeevi's kid brother, is well on his way towards consolidating his position in the industry with Tammudu. This remake of Mansoor Khan's Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander (featuring Aamir Khan in the lead) is drawing huge crowds to the theatres. This also happens to be his first release after last year's mega-hit, Toli Prema.

Pavan Kalyan Another measure of his success is the energy with which youngsters are aping his dancing and, even, walking style.

Chiranjeevi and Nagendra Babu (his second brother) are, meanwhile, keeping a firm eye on the films Kalyan does and the directors he works with. As a result, this young up-and-comer does fewer films, most of which do extremely well at the box office.

Now, they are working out the scripting details of a home production that will feature all three brothers. Looks like the Khan syndrome (Salman, Arbaaz and Sohail) is all set to take on a southern avatar!

Another son rises
Another youngster making his mark is Krishna's son, Mahesh Babu. Though Mahesh has already acted in several films with his father, he has now lost his baby flab and looks quite chipper.

Raja Kumarudu In fact, in some scenes of his debut-film-as-hero, Raja Kumarudu, he can quite be mistaken for his father. Besides, if this film is any indicator, his acting abilities are also quite impressive. This, despite the fact that heroine Preity Zinta looks like his elder sister.

And director Raghavendra Rao has drawn a new lease of life from the fact that this film has done extremely well at the box office. As for Mahesh, he is looking forward to acting with his dad in an yet untitled film.

Comeback trails
With one film after another bombing at the box office, it was beginning to look as if Jagapati Babu had lost his smile. Permanently. This, despite bagging the Nandi Best Supporting Actor Award for Anthapuram. In desperation, he even attempted Swapna Lokam, the remake of Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, with Bhimaneni Srinivasa Rao.

But it took Alludugaru Vachcharu, a sentimental Heera-Kousalya starrer that is doing well in some centres, to pull Jagapati Babu out of his deep depression.

Raviraja Pinisetty, who seems to have slipped into oblivion after several of his projects bombed, has also resurfaced with this film, proving once again that he is best with family dramas (Chanti, Pedarayudy, etc).

Vijayashanti waits for a hit
Vijayashanti Vijayashanti, unfortunately, is still looking for a hit after Osey Ramulamma. Rowdy Darbar and Sreevarantey Maavarey both bombed. As did Bharat Ratna, despite Kargil and director Kodi Ramakrishna, who is more known for the hits he has delivered.

Once the undisputed queen of the box office, Vijayashanti has no Telugu films on the floor at present. Age is catching up with her. No hero is willing to work with her as she tends to dominate the proceedings. Her downfall, sources say, began once she started poaching on male territory and bashing up more baddies than the heroes themselves.

Hollywood calling
Which brings us back to Chiranjeevi. After doing two films in Bollywood (Prathibandh and Aaj Ka Goondaraj), Chiranjeevi has now graduated to Hollywood. The film, an NRI production titled The Return Of The Thief Of Baghdad, will be directed Duchan Jersy, an anthropologist-turned-director. All the technicians, except A R Rahman and Thota Tarini, will be from Hollywood.

Will Revati oblige?
Mohan Koda, Goutam Ghose's chief assistant director who worked with him from Maa Bhoomi to Patang has branched out on his own with Yellama (The Prophecy). The film, being made by The Baron Company of United States, is an adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Set in Rudraram, Yellamma dwells on the local politics of a king in the 19th century Telangana region. The shooting of the film is now in progress, with Nazir and Sonali Kulkarni playing the lead roles.

The hunt for the title character is still on. "We have approached several heroines," says Koda, "but they are having date problems. But I am confident that Revati, whom we have had in the mind from the very beginning, will oblige us."

The film is expected to be ready in time for the international film festivals.

--S Ravi Kennedy

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