Beginning from today I am planning a series of articles on the evolution of Telugu movies from 1983 to the current date. I have choosen this time period as I believe this to be a highly significant period in the history of Telugu cinema. It was the period that saw the fading out of the older generation of stars like ANR, Krishna, Sobhan babu and the emergence of the newer crop like Venkatesh, Nagarjuna, Balakrishna and of course the rise and rise of Megastar Chiranjeevi. Please take into account that what I am giving is only a factual account and this is not biased towards any particular actor. Each series would cover a specific year and the trends, hits and flops in that year. Telugu cinema.com reader’s comments are welcome and I need this to improve further.
1983 was a landmark year in the history of Telugu cinema. NTR the reigning god of Telugu cinema( literally) speaking, had become the CM of Andhra Pradesh, emulating the experience of MGR down south in Tamil Nadu. He founded a new party Telugu Desam, and within a record 9 months he managed to topple the existing Congress Govt which ruled the state without any interruption since it’s formation in 1956. Mind you NTR was no fading politician when he entered politics, his movies were still raking in the money, but with his becoming CM, he could never be an active player in movies. And his retirement from movies left a big void. Though his last movie Chandasasunudu was a major success, that was the only movie released that year. The question was after NTR who next?
ANR had a mixed year, while Ramudu Kadu Krishnudu was just an average grosser , Bahudurapu Batasari and Sri ranga Nithulu performed well at the box office. Meghasandesam from the ANR-Dasari combo despite its strong storyline and excellent music score by Ramesh Naidu however failed at the box office, while Amarajeevi was a total wash out, and it was pretty much obvious that ANR’s days as a leading hero, were getting slowly numbered. As for hero Krishna he again had a mixed year. Suresh Productions Mundadugu ( where he co starred with Sobhan Babu) was a huge success at the box office and his performance was appreciated. But his other multi starrer extravaganza Adavi Simhalu( with Krishnam Raju) was a damp squib at the Box office. Inspite of all the hype and expensive sets, the movie’s performance was not too impressive. Clearly the audiences were getting bored with the regular formula drama. Mundadugu worked because of the good script. Of his solo starrers Shakti, directed by K.Raghavendra Rao, was a major success at the box office, again thanks to it’s strong storyline, and good performances by Krishna and Jayasudha. Ramarajyam lo Bhimaraju and Kirai Kotigadu( both directed by A. Kodandarami Reddy) were just average at the box office, while both Amayukudu kadhu Asadhyudu and Lanke Bindulu were disasters at the box office. Prajarajyam could not quite recreate the magic of Eenadu at the box office.
Sobhan Babu again had a not too impressive year. While Mundadugu was a huge success, most of the credit went to Krishna. Balidaanam a remake of Mad Max, didn’t create much impact at the box office. Mugurru Monagallu where he acted in a triple role however had a decent run at the box office, while Raj Kumar despite its interesting story was again a failure at the box office. Krishnam Raju again didn’t have a very remarkable year with Adavi Simhalu being just an average grosser, while Puli Bebbuli where he co starred with Chiranjeevi didn’t do any wonders at the box office.
The year however belonged to Chiranjeevi, who broke ground with 2 vastly different movies. Abilasha proved to be the sleeper hit of the year, holding it’s own against biggies. Based on Yandamuri’s novel, the movie dealt with the issue of IPC 302. The strong storyline, excellent direction by A.Kodandarami Reddy, foot tapping melodies by Ilayaraja and great performances by Chiru, Rao Gopal Rao, Radhika and Gollapudi made this movie a memorable one, and was an excellent debut for Creative Commercial’s K.S.Rama Rao. And in the later half of the year Chiru came up with a totally different role with Khaidi, a desi version of First Blood, it was noted for it’s thrilling action sequences and of course Chiranjeevi’s excellent performance as a convict on the run. These 2 vastly different movies propelled Chiranjeevi into stardom and the subsequent years would see him grow further. Of his other movies this year the James Bond flick Gudachari No 1 and the folklore starrer Sivudu Sivudu Sivudu were total failures at the Box office. Magamaharaju a family drama from Vijayabapineedu was again a success at the box office, while Bapu’s Mantrigari Viyankudu a light comedy also performed reasonably well. Roshagadu was an average grosser, while Sangarshana which I guess is Chiru’s only movie to date with Suresh Productions was no great shakes. Alayasikharam coming from the Chiru-Kodi Ramakrishna team which the previous year had given a big hit in Intlo Ramayya Veedhilo Krishnayya was again not much of a success. Neither Paletoori Monagadu a typical Tollywood masala flick nor the Telugu remake of Basu Chaterjee’s “Shaukeen” Prema Pichoolu clicked at the box office. Mohan Babu who made an impressive debut as a hero the previous year with Prathigna, had a forgettable year with all his movies as a solo hero flopping at the box office.
The year’s biggest hits however were not from the big budget movies, but from movies on a lower budget and starring smaller actors. Among such movies was TLV Prasad’s Manishiko Charitra, starring Chandramohan and Muralimohan, about the problems faced by middle class families. The highlight of the movie was the excellent dialogues by Ganesh Patro and superb performance by Gollapudi Maruthi Rao. Kodi Ramakrishna’s Tarangini an offbeat love triangle starring Suman, Shyamala Gowri and Bhanuchander was again a runaway success at the box office. Again the movie was notable due to Bhanuchander’s performance in a negative role. Kodi Ramakrishna again recorded a major success the same year with Mukkupudaka starring Bhanuchander, Suhasini and Vijayasanthi. However his movies with major heroes Chiranjeevi( Alaya Sikharam, Gudachari No 1) and Krishna (Poratam) were unsuccessful.
Another director Jandhyala known for his off beat movies achieved success with his comedy Rendu Jella Seetha, about the antics of 4 youngsters who fall for the same girl. Jandhyala also had success with Muddu Mullu starring Chandramohan and Radhika. The movie a remake of Bhagyaraj’s Mundhru Mudichu, had excellent music score by Rajan Nagendra. However his movie with ANR, Amarajeevi was a total wash out. The other surprise hit was Dasari’s political satire MLA Yedukondalu starring himself in the title role. Dasari’s excellent performance in title role, and the dialogues made this movie a success at the box office. Dasari’s other attempt as hero in Police Venkataswamy however was not too impressive.
But the movie of the year would be K. Vishwanath’s Sagara Sangamam, starring Kamal Hassan and Jayapradha. A wonderfully narrated story of a talented dancer’s struggle to make it in life and how he has to bow to fate was wonderfully narrated by Viswanath. Brilliant performance by Kamal, and equally well supported by Jayapradha and Sarathbabu. Ilayaraja’s first score for K.Vishwanath proved to be memorable, ensuring that the songs would forever stay in memory. This movie would turn out to be a landmark movie in Telugu cinema. And the movie was a huge success at the box office.