Nippu- Neither smoke nor fire, but pushes you into a mire

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Around this time last year, Ravi Teja issued a press release. He stated that he is ready to give a chance to any new director and his doors would be open 24/7 for them. You can attribute that to the promotion for the film ‘Dongala Mutha’. After his subsequent movie, Veera, flopped, there was a talk going around that he is asking for bound scripts from the directors

Nippu, in my opinion, would have been accepted in between those two phases. There would’ve have been no reason to accept this film had it been a bound script. Ravi Teja is known to make monumentally disastrous decisions while choosing films. Bhageeradha, Baladoor, Khatarnak, and Veera stand as testimonies for the same. On the flip side, he is also known to carry a movie on his shoulders. Though not on par with his previous disasters, Nippu will be a movie that Ravi Teja will stand to regret

It was promoted as the amalgamation of different styles of cinema. One, bearing the trademark Gunasekhar stamp and the other being the entertainment we have come to expect from Ravi Teja. One positive thing to emerge from the fracas is the fact that Ravi Teja is a director’s actor. No actor in his senses would have accepted to do a trailer jumping sequence. The entire movie was woven around a single thread and that hurt the movie bad. The starcast wasn’t utilised properly.

There is a disturbing trend that has been noticed in the last two movies of Ravi Teja. He is tending to gravitate towards the larger-than-life characters. This is actually playing havoc with his movie choosing abilities. He seems to be out of sync with his success pattern. He was someone who was always identifiable with his characters. In Veera and Nippu it wasn’t so

It isn’t as if Ravi Teja let the movie down. He was his usual energetic self all through in the movie. There was something more that was required from him. That he needed to be stretched to be limit is the director’s fault. From unbelievable action sequences to a delicate thread holding the script together, it didn’t quite pan out the way the director expected it. The movie might have worked if the flashback episode was a little bit longer.

People and sites have been spelling doom for Ravi Teja’s career. I feel all that he needs is a role that can get him closer to the proletariat.

So where do the people associated with the movie go on from here?

  • Ravi Teja needn’t worry about his immediate future, but that doesn’t mean he can be reckless with the scripts that he chooses. He has some strengths that few actors in the industry can boast of. Like delivering the dialogues with élan and superb sense of comic timing.
  • Deeksha Seth needs a hit and fast. She did the best she could and it wasn’t enough. Few more movies with A listers would be of great help. The problem is, who would offer them to her? She needs to plan her career with care and ensure that it doesn’t careen
  • Gunasekhar is in the danger of obliterating his own legacy. Sainikudu, Varudu, and now Nippu represent the biggest trough in his career. He is himself to blame for it as there was either, a delicate story thread or no story at all to narrate. He has a movie in hand. If that fails at the box-office, we might have seen the last of Gunasekhar
  • A man who survives Okka Magadu, Saleem and Nippu will be nothing less than Houdini. Train wreck after train wreck of movies and being associated with them will do nothing to YVS’ short-term and long-term future, but spell doom. Rey is the only movie that he has, to pin his hopes on. Is it worth pining his hopes on?
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Love for the Guernsey cricket team

Have you ever imagined this setting? You can actually stuff an entire country’s population in a match at Eden Gardens, Kolkatta. To top it all the country has a cricket team. Well, come out of the imagination and you can see the reality. Guernsey is one such country

 

Their cricketers are the best ambassadors for small country cricket. Watching them from close quarters in WCL 5, I felt that they were the best personifications for the much abused ‘It’s just a sport’. While they give it their all on the field, they are gregarious and fun-loving characters off it

 

In a match that was affected by rain, all of them volunteered to be the groundsmen for the day. This gesture was not lost on the opposition, Argentina, as they too ventured in getting the match started. It was the second match of Guernsey that I watched. What actually caught the eye and knowing that little more about the team was a little gesture at the break of the innings. All of their players stood up to applause in welcoming Kneller, who turned the match around in the batting powerplay. They stood on to applaud Ferbrache who was instrumental in holding an end as Kneller went bonkers at the end. All the players of the team and the supporting staff had enough sense in standing on and applauding the Argentinian team off the field. This gesture was not lost on the people watching the game

 

In their next game, they had to endure a heart-breaking loss to Malaysia. Going into the final over, it seemed as if they were the favourites. It was not to be and they lost the game by four runs. Far from giving reasons for their loss, the players took it on the chin and looked forward to improving their skill sets. A couple of players that I spoke to said that it wouldn’t have mattered a lot in the final analysis as they felt that Malaysia would have gone in with a stronger eleven into their final league match, than what they actually did- they rested their best batsman for the match. One of the star performers for the Guernsey team, whom I met in the lift, said ‘It was an enjoyable match, isn’t it? We will have to perform better when we find ourselves in a similar situation the next time around’

 

The next time, though, came pretty soon. Two games after their match against Malaysia, they faced Cayman Islands in a third-place play-off. The batting didn’t click, but they set up a challenging target. The bowlers and fielders did the job for the first half of the Cayman Islands innings. The catch by Hooper at extra-cover off Gordon was an instant classic. It would have found its way to youtube if it were to  be a game between the member countries. When Best and Wright set the ball rolling for a Cayman Islands win with their partnership, the shoulders didn’t wilt. They were trying their best to break the partnership

 

The momentum swung throughout the slog overs. To spice up the proceedings, there was a threat of rain. Cayman Islands was ahead on D/L tables. The bowlers and the fielders didn’t allow this to deter them and were intent on giving it their all. Under the circumstances, they did the best thing to keep the game in check- take wickets. With the equation down to 19 off 2 overs, Guersey seemed to be the team with the wherewithal to seal the game. Conroy Wright had other plans, though. He unleashed the flattest of sixes in the over and Cayman Islands were left needing 8 runs off the final over. The hot air, a batsman in rampaging form and tired fielders meant that Cayman Islands were in with the better chance. When Wright took a couple off the first ball, the supporters of Guernsey had given up. Fortunately Ferbrache wasn’t amongst the players that gave up. He ran to his right and leapt about three feet at long-off to pull off a stunning catch.

 

Wright, the batsman, was stunned at the way the catch was pulled off. He thought that he had the match won with that lofted hit. The denouement was to come as Taylor struck a boundary of the very next ball to get the target down to two runs. He threw the kitchen sink at the next ball and fortunately, missed. Hooper, the bowler was not amused as it was a leg cutter that he had bowled. The entire ground, by this moment, was up on its feet. When the yorker found the target, the stumps, the team was ecstatic.

 

In the middle of their celebrations, they again found a way to cheer the opposition team off the playing field. In the process, they won the hearts of the people. On the eve of the tournament, the manager said that the biggest strength of the team was the way they struck with each other, through thick and thin. They demonstrated that strength amply through the length of the tournament.

 

Even better, they showed that they learnt from their mistakes. With teams like this, it’s not the aid that matters, but the exposure. Till then Guernsey, keep winning matches and accumulate fans. It won’t be a surprise if their fans outnumber the population in the near future

Trivikram’s Angst

In the recently conducted MAA music awards, the normally reticent Trivikram shed his shyness and spoke about Sirivennela Seetharama Shastry. The tone of the speech varied from that of despair to that of angst. The speech was basically about the falling standards of Lyrics in Telugu film industry and how Sirivennela held his own all these years. The beauty of the speech was such that, you could have replaced Telugu and put any other language. The angst would have been the same, regardless of the language

 

He started off by saying that he neither had the standing nor the vocabulary to talk about Sirivennala. “When I heard the songs in Sirivennala, I wanted to find the meaning of a few words used in the song. That was the moment I realised that there exists a dictionary in Telugu and bought one. I referred to the words in the dictionary.” He says in no unmean terms that Sirivennala’s name adds to the song. “The job of a lyricist is to not just write songs that are understandable to the audience, but to write songs that a common man would crave to understand.” He complimented him by saying that the value he lent to a song was immense “He is the man who increased the lyrical values in a song. Instead of resigning himself to the fact that the audience wanted to listen to a few kind of songs, he reached out to those people who strived hard to understand the lyrics.”

 

He mentioned a few great works and said that a few words are difficult to use in books, but Sirivennala used the same words with ease in the songs and contributed towards increasing the stature of the listener. He further added that he deserves respect for actually increasing the stature of the listener.

 

“We all clapped and went crazy when we saw Chiranjeevi’s song on the AV. What we din’t notice was the lyrics in the song. You need guts, first of all, to write those lyrics in a song. To convince a director, get the producer to agree on having the lyrics isn’t an easy job. I know how tough a job it is, as I myself am a director.”

 

“ In Bobilli Raja, we have all heard the song that gained Mass adulation. He was the one to show that there is scope for surrealism in the lyrics. It wasn’t that there was scope for surrealism there. He bought the scope by himself. He was the one to show us that the lyrical values in a commercial movies are not always derogatory. He has treaded on thin ice all along.” His comparison of writing mellifluent songs with that driving a Porsche in lanes around Charminar area evoked thunderous applause. He laid into everybody associated with cinema when he said “ Lyrics take a beating because the heroes are preoccupied with their images, the directors are ignorant of the words used, and all that the producers care for are the so-called ‘commercial values’”. He also blamed the audience for not being able to comprehend the lyrical value of a song

 

“Sirivennala needs to be feted for the single reason of going about his work in spite of all the above mentioned obstacles. It was for all these obstacles that he made sacrifices in life” At that moment it appeared as if he was going to transgress the line that separated speech from ventilating. He controlled himself and said “I normally don’t come to functions such as these as I find it difficult to control my emotions”.

 

He compared him with a sun that rises in the midnight and said his presence through lyrics pervades our everyday lives. He said “Using words as rays of hope and alphabets as weapons, he goes out to war. He asks us not to quit. Ask us questions, which we can’t answer”

 

Recounting a personal experience, he says “ I went to watch ‘Sindhooram’ in my days as a struggler. There was discontent brewing as I was watching the movie but a few words which went “Do we call 50 years of ignorance as independence?” made me stand up, put my hands in the pocket, and walk away. I didn’t know where I was going but I was just just walking along. Such was the impact of his words. Only words can make the impact that can change a life”

 

He opined that being a Telugu movie lyricist might have actually stunted his progress. He was saddened by the fact that he restricted himself to the Telugu Film Industry. “No value exists for the people who write lyrics in Telugu film industry. That is the reason why we couldn’t respect people like Malladi Ram Krishna Shastry, Jannu, Deverapally Krishna Shastry, Dasaradhi. All these people weren’t recognised for their efforts because they wrote songs for Telugu films. People like Veturi and Sirivennala had it in them to write Nobel prize winning efforts but instead they sought to stay back in the Telugu Film Industry”

 

He ended it all by saying that it was the misfortune of the writers to be languishing in the film industry and the people should feel blessed to have someone so special in their midst

Curious Connections

How much would you admire a person whom you have never seen before? How much influence will an endearing person, wield over your choices? These are the questions that I encountered over the previous week. It was because of two incidents, unrelated, over the past week

One was  K R Deepak winning an award for his photography and the other was a friend visiting Bheemunipatnam and his clicks there. You might wonder how these things are related and some of you might venture out to take a guess. Your guess might be that the clicks by my friend would have reminded me of K R Deepak. That’s a part of the reason why I am writing this

Nine years ago, on a sunny day, two first-year graduation students went to Bheemunipatnam on a bike after finishing their final exam of the term. On the same day, there was a meeting headed by a politico in the same place. The two students went to the beach and found that it was nothing different from what they saw at the beach near their college. Now that they were tired by the exertions of preparing for the exam and writing it, they wanted to go back to their college and steal a nap or two. It so happened that the guy riding the bike saw a board which said “parlour” (Tiffin centre in Visakhapatnam parlance). He wanted to have a meal there, considering the vast expanse of open space in front of the house. The shaded area in the middle of the vast space further added to his desire. His friend was a willing accomplice. They went in and much to their chagrin found that the board was that of a Parlour that existed 2-3 years ago. The lady of the house, perhaps noticed the hunger writ large on the faces of the students. She offered them the food that remained from cooking a meal for the politico- lodged at the circuit house of the town

What followed was the most delicious meal that the students had in an year’s time. It disappointed them a bit that they made this chance discovery on the last day of their term in the first year. On the other hand, they were happy that they had a place to come back to, in the second year. It is said that a positive experience makes you feel the positive vibes around you. Something similar happened to most of us in our second year of graduation. We started to frequent the place more often. It allowed us to soak in the atmosphere of the route. The sixteen kilometre route offered us a verdant experience. We used to pass by a lot of places of significance. Starting from the Ramanaidu studios (then under construction) we had to pass Thotlakonda – A Buddhist complex, Ramadri – housing a huge Hanuman statue, the view after crossing Ramadri, the hairpin bend near Uppada, Erra matti dibbalu (Red Sand dunes), Vedic School with a lot of flowers (something that took you back in time), Circuit house bungalow, Dutch cemetery, an old fort, Sangam of River Gosthani with the Bay of Bengal, and, finally, one of the oldest churches in the state.

Instead of going to city proper to watch the movies, we used to schedule it around our visits to this place. It was a double treat for us as we could have our choice of food and watch a movie for a paltry charge of 25/-. As our visits increased the lady of the house gave us the option of demanding the dishes we wanted. Her only condition was: We should intimate her the menu we wanted, two hours prior to our arrival at her place

For the first few visits, the man of the house was silent. He wasn’t to be blamed, as any man would have been perturbed by the sight of fifteen-twenty college kids swamping his home. By this time, we graduated to dining in the house, mind you. Slowly but certainly the man warmed up to the kids and started narrating funny stories. On one such visit, he requested a couple of eager kids to come in early. He went into his bedroom and came back clutching a bunch of albums. He started to whip through the photographs with beaming pride. It took us two hours to finish the album and by then, the food was ready. After the sumptuous lunch, the man asked us our opinion on the photographs. He still had the effervescence that he had for the two hours whilst showing the photographs. Perhaps obliged, and with no sense for appreciating good photography, the kids said they were very good. They still had to finish gargling when the man announced that pictures were clicked by his son-in-law. The two kids doubted if he would have had more pride, had he himself clicked the pics. As the visits grew, the old man kept on showing the same albums with the an ever growing sense of pride. We got so acquainted with the photographs that you could wake us in the middle of the night and we could have narrated the order of the pics in all the albums, correctly. There was not a single word about his own daughter. There was not a single word in praise of his son-in-law. He needn’t have. The face said it all

Sometimes, the college kids regaled him with their own stories. Common amongst which was them racing against an open top, blue-coloured Mercedes. The man didn’t pay any attention to these stories after repeated hearings and would take the walk to the bedroom to get the albums

The son-in-law, we gathered from our subsequent visits was K R Deepak, the photographer for The Hindu in Visakhapatnam. My face beams with pride, whenever I see the man’s photograph on the backpage of ‘THE HINDU’. And this, without ever meeting the man

(PIC COURTESY: 1) Buddha and his students- Anupam Behera’s facebook album

                         2) Hanuman statue-  Venkat Yarabati’s Flicker stream

                        3) Erra Matti Dibbalu- The Hindu, probably taken by Mr. K R Deepak himself)

PS: If you are still wondering where Bheemunipatnam is, please watch ‘Ek Duje ke liye’ or ‘Maro Charitra(1978)’