Silver Jubilee To The Evergreen Romantic Classic

By - May 12, 2014 - 02:21 PM IST

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There were many Love Stories which graced Telugu Cinema World from the inception of Films. While some had a tragic ending, some other stories are based on popular novels or Literature. However, there is another category of Love Stories which could be made by Mani Ratnam- the most celebrated director of Indian Cinema alone. He made the only one straight film in Telugu – “Geethanjali” – which became a genre by itself for what it offered.  This genre consists of beautiful locations of a hill station as a backdrop. There is no preachy moment or anything artificial in the subject. The love story gives a new hope of life instead of making the audiences ponder about whether the couple will get together in the end.

With respect to the story, Geethanjali is quite simple and straightforward. You have the protagonist Prakash (Nagarjuna) on one side, who has his own perception towards life and on the flip side there is Geethanjali (Girija Shettar’s best debut), who has a contrary view point for life. Things change phenomenally when Prakash understands the worth of Geetha’s opinion towards life and that is how the Love Story begins! It sure looks like a convetional love story movie but there is something which makes Geethanjali a path breaker in Love Stories-right from its photography to the characterization and you name it!

This phenomenal film completes 25 years by today. Music by Maestro Ilaiyaraaja, Photography by P.C.Sreeram and Mani Ratnam’s fun filled writing makes it an all time favorite for all classes of audience. On such great occasion, here are some highlights and interesting facts about the film:

*Mani Ratnam wanted to name the film as Ninnu Kori when the writing work was going on. But when he was advised that the title wouldn’t be too classy for such an intense love story, it was named Geethanjali out of the admiration for Rabindranath Tagore’s work on the same name.

*Most of the film was shot during the winter season in Ooty and the mist shots in the film were totally real. Mani Ratnam metaphorically plays around with the fog and mist and amazingly adds value to the story’s themewith diseased protagonists.

*The song “Oh Papa Lali” was a random tune which came from Ilaiyaraaja during one composing session with Mani Ratnam few years earlier. Both Mani Ratnam and Ilaiyaraaja had a conversation about a Devadas styled song which was done for his second film Pagal Nilavu (Pagale Vennela in Telugu) and when he reminded Maestro again about it, this tune arrived. This was the first song which was finalized for Geethanjali.

*The shot of the heroine dancing in her introduction song ‘Jallantha’ where horses going around are shown has become the most influential style of song-making during those days! Chiranjeevi was so impressed with its visuals that he particularly asked his director to get a similar shot in his song “Subhalekha” from Kondaveeti Donga (that released much later). The use of horses in the background for a song was done even in songs like “Poddhunne Puttindhi” from Shatruvu as well. Such was the influence of the one and only straight Telugu film of Mani Ratnam! Ram Gopal Varma also got influenced by the same shot, which he used in one of the songs for his popular film Kshana Kshanam later!

*Even the shot of Geetha dancing with an old Gentleman was inspired for “Om Namo Nama” from Surya IPS, where the hero and heroine dance with a tribal guy in the second interlude yet again! A similar sequence is featured in "Subhalekha Rasukunna" from Kondaveeti Donga as well. Incidentally the music for both the songs is by Maestro Ilaiyaraaja!

*The uniquely styled wardrobe for the female lead 'Geetha' in the film later got popular as 'Geethanjali dress'. It has a knee length skirt and top with ethnic design which became a vogue those days. Almost every girl or a woman dreamed of wearing the dress- such was the influence of Geethanjali as a film.

*After Geethanjali, Telugu Cinema took a heap of love story films which had the backdrop of Ooty- if not completely but at least for a song sequence or a key scene. Successful Tollywood films such as Tholi Prema and Santhosham also couldn’t escape the strong influence of it.