Telugu movie hotspot: 20 years of Hyderabad’s Ramoji Movie Metropolis


For the previous half hour, Mahesh Babu, the Salman Khan of Telugu cinema, has been sitting cross-legged beneath a temple umbrella for a shoot of his new movie in a studio of Ramoji Movie Metropolis (RCF), Hyderabad. Subsequent to him is his heroine, reverse them sit their ‘kin’. Babu is semi-smiling, which, a fan says, is normally reserved for a change of scene with the looks of the baddies – a raise of the lip in time for a twinkle of the attention, resulting in a supply of swift one-liners floor out of a jaw that’s slowly tightening.

Apart from ‘Tollywood’s Salman’, Babu, a light-skinned actor, can also be referred to as ‘The Milky Boy’, the useful chook informs.

“He’s additionally Mr Reasonable. He doesn’t overdo issues in his movies, nothing is an excessive amount of.”

“Runs after the lady?”

“Not an excessive amount of.”

“Beats up individuals?”

“Not an excessive amount of. However flies by means of the air – if wanted.”

This then is how heroes of up to date Tollywood movies come: cool, collected, normally metro-men, who will likely be worlds faraway from identifiably Telugu heroes of yore equivalent to NT Rama Rao, who emerged out of the linguistic reorganisation of states in south India within the Fifties. (Separated from the Madras State, the Telugu business moved out of Madras within the Seventies.)

NTR, additionally the chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh by means of the 80s and the 90s, bolstered the Telugu political and cultural identification by means of his cinema. With the formation of Telangana in 2014, the Telugu identification is, nevertheless, made extra advanced.

“A lot of the modern heroes are from households in coastal Andhra however there’s a aware transfer to underplay that identification,” says cultural theorist Uma Bhrugubanda. Ramoji Rao, a media baron, who erected RFC in 1996 on 2,000 acres of land, and uneven Deccan rock, rose to be an influential determine on this pre- and post-statehood historical past.

Tollywood – second solely to Bollywood in numbers — churns out greater than 200 movies a 12 months. Out of 100 movies shot in Tollywood, roughly 99 of them come to RFC for at the least one scene, claims a film-city govt. On the twentieth anniversary of the movie metropolis, its line of well-wishers is lengthy.

“Ramoji Rao introduced self-discipline to varied elements of film-making due to the infrastructure he made obtainable,” says S Rajamouli, the director of 2015’s greatest box-office earner, Baahubali, The Starting. “When Prabhas (the Baahubali hero) is climbing the waterfall, he has to climb 15-20 toes of it in any given shot, when he falls, he has to fall down 15-20 toes too. Creating this can be a big job, you want the proper angle, correct quantity of water pumping. All that was accomplished right here. Dreaming massive was made attainable in RFC.”

On the Baahubali set, the place 2015’s energy struggles have been performed

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The set of the palace courtyard within the movie continues to be standing in RFC in preparation for a taking pictures schedule in March for the sequel. Coronation steps, a gilded throne, pillars, dismembered legs of a king earlier than his final stand – is that this how a fake Rome would possibly take care of pack-up?

RFC facilitated, in a approach, what could possibly be the brand new massive by way of Telugu cinema regardless of its personal low-budget “message-oriented” banner of Usha Kiron Motion pictures within the Eighties whose excessive factors have been Naache Mayuri and Mounaporatam. The primary flagged the profession of physically-challenged actress Sudha Chandran; the second was the story of a rebel-in-the-name-of-the system, a tribal lady’s struggle for private justice ending in marriage.

“Earlier, ‘massive’ or ‘lavish’ meant NTR sitting in a giant corridor on a giant chair and also you go huge angle on one particular person sitting on one couch,” says veteran artwork director Thota Tarani. Right this moment, the viewers need to be knocked off their seat, they need spectacles. “For Arjun, Mahesh Babu’s movie, the Madurai temple-like construction I created was the speak of city,” he provides.

In latest instances, RFC has been identified extra for being the venue for larger-than-life outings of pan-India matinee stars as effectively. Hrithik Roshan jumped off one in all its skywalks in Krrish 3. Shahrukh and Deepika caught a practice in its ‘practice station’ for Chennai Categorical. Vidya Balan acquired pinched by Naseerudin Shah’s character as they ran round its Leg Backyard, a backyard the place two feminine legs do in marble what Sharon Stone did in that movie.

Vidya Balan goes ‘Ooh La la’ on the Leg Backyard

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RFC appears to don’t have any match within the outrageousness, scale and even kitsch when it’s in comparison with different movie cities.

Benefit Hyderabad

As a movie hub, Chennai is now talked of up to now tense, however with the warning of avoiding, because it have been, a border battle. Says a veteran Telugu film-maker who works in each industries: “Ninety-nine % of its studios are closed or given to each day soaps.”

As for Mumbai’s movie cities, it clearly has its aficionados however for Sabu Cyril, the artwork director of Krrish 3 and Baahubali, taking pictures in RFC has its benefits. “In Mumbai, attending to the units itself takes one hour due to the site visitors. For Krrish 3, we completed seven days earlier than schedule. To raise up the 100-feet statue of Bhallala Deva in Baahubali, we would have liked a 110-feet crane, not all studios have it.”

Movie historian Amrit Gangar says he remembers filmmakers saying “ ‘you go into Ramoji Rao Movie Metropolis with a script and are available out with cans of your completed movie as this movie metropolis additionally has the mandatory post-production services.’ Shyam Benegal, I’m advised shot his movie Haribhari virtually completely in RFC … It saves time as your complete crew stays in a single place and there aren’t any delays.”

The function of the church in Shahrukh’s Dilwale

Flexibility and customisation have been a part of the RFC plan. “From a pin to an elephant, no single institution gives this to film-makers,” says Rao in his workplace inside RFC that with layers of safety, excessive ceilings, painted stained glass home windows, looks as if a cross between a church and the watch-tower of a walled metropolis. It’s maybe one of many few buildings in RFC that’s manufactured from actual bricks. It really exists.

In any other case the compound is stuffed with streets and Plaster of Paris homes – they name them Flex Homes right here — that may be blown away, made to look haunted, look English, look Mughal, seem like a booze store, a financial institution, a hospital supply room, airport, a ‘Heartbreak Lodge’, a Bengali residence, a Goan residence, even a morning-after-a-wedding residence, with only a change of façade by propping up scores of brick patterns for partitions from the Maya workshop, an RFC unit that turns ideas of a movie’s artwork director right into a actuality with out the latter having to bang his or her head.

Ra.One was shot right here

Thirty-five completely different removable lamp poles may also change the look of a avenue. The variety of Greek statutes selecting pitchers, fingers clutching a robe, aiming an arrow, or trying like bandaged upright mummies, all around the compound, somebody forgot to depend.

Mohan Bingi, Maya artwork director, says Maya’s work is scheduled in line with the movies’ deadlines. “At one level we have been coping with the schedules of three setups. The primary schedule of Shivay, Ajay Devgan’s subsequent directorial venture; a portion of Mahesh Babu’s new movie, and the ultimate schedule of Shahrukh’s Dilwale, for which we constructed a manufacturing unit for SRK to struggle in, a avenue on which he sang, and a church for the climax.”

Mr Reasonable, Mahesh Babu, taking pictures his new movie

Present enterprise

The Ramoji Movie Metropolis is an expertise, particularly if one is 12. Opened to the general public from the very subsequent 12 months that it was launched in 1997, 55% of its income comes from its tourism sights. A pink bus rolls by means of the town previous its themed parks, eating places, bazaars and reside exhibits. At its Japanese Backyard, the place a pagoda-shaped construction sits in the midst of a pool, one meets Pawan, a clerk, in his twenties.

How does he prefer it? “As in our movies, a spot like this permits a person to reside out his fantasies. No cash, no Japan? No! even a villager can come right here and pretend it!” he enthuses.

‘Sarkar’ Amitabh Bachchan shot on this bungalow for Sarkar Raaj

For a metropolis that has simply misplaced a younger man referred to as Rohith Vemula and has identified intense struggles between social forces, the capability for hope, raised throughout Hyderabad’s first division, has by no means fairly gone away. Writing of the regional press and its function in mobilising opinion on backward-class discrimination in tandem with political events, movie scholar M Madhava Prasad, in his e-book Cine-Politics, means that the “subject of the state and the regulation” in Hyderabad has by no means been a “closed one”.

The recognition of Telugu cinema’s new mythologies — the hero and the dominion that waits for him – appears to precise the favored perception that the political reconstitution of society is negotiable. Behind each dragon there’s a courageous prince.

Images: Raj Okay Raj


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