Arundhati (2009 film)
|Directed by||Kodi Ramakrishna|
|Produced by||M Shyam Prasad Reddy|
|Written by||Chintapalli Ramana|
|Cinematography||K. K. Senthil Kumar|
|Editing by||Marthand K Venkatesh|
|Budget||13 crore (US$2.0 million)|
|Box office||33 crore (US$5.0 million)(worldwide nett)|
Arundhati (Telugu: అరుంధతి) is a 2009 Telugu, fantasy film written and directed by Kodi Ramakrishna, starring Anushka and Sonu Sood in the lead. The film was released on 16 January 2009 to positive reviews and emerged as a commercial success, also becoming one of the highest grossing Telugu films at its time. Owing to its success, it was later dubbed into Tamil and Malayalam with the same title and in Oriya as Mantrasakti.
Arundhati (Anushka Shetty)(meaning -a fire which is already blown)(arunda means blown, ti means fire) is the great-granddaughter of the Raja of Gadwal, Mahasamsthan. Arrangements are being made for her marriage. Arundhati visits her native place before marriage. She is the first female to be born since her great grand grandmother and is especially revered in the family. While everyone else treats her normally, her grandfather, the head of the family, talks to her with respect as if she is older than him. She receives a misleading phone call in her fiance Rahul's (Arjan Bajwa) voice asking her to come to the fort of Gadwal, where she faces a horrible revelation. Learning the story from an aged servant maid, Chandramma (Manorama), Arundhati comes to know that she is a look alike of her great-grandmother Arundhati/Jejjamma (Anushka).
Jejjama's story is not a happy one. Jejjamma is an expert in painting, dancing and martial arts (essential skills for princesses). Her elder sister is married to her cousin Pasupathi (Sonu Sood). Pasupathi, a womaniser, rapes the women he likes and kills those who objected. While Jejjama was still a young girl, he rapes and killed her blind dance teacher while Jejjama watched, horrified through the peephole. Jejjama, furious, demands that he be thrashed and killed but the King remorsefully tells her that this would ruin her sister's life and so he cannot order Pasupathi's demise. Hearing this, Jejjamma's sister commits suicide. The people of Gadwal furiously thrash Pasupathi, injuring him severely. They tie him to his horse. Though Gadwal celebrates his death, he is saved by Aghoras (saints who practice the dark arts). Pasupathi masters the Tantric arts and returns to Gadwal many years later to exact his revenge.
He unleashes carnage as he uses his powers to torture innocent people-something the Aghoras don't do. He arrives on Jejjama's marriage day and magically starts removing her clothes but Jejjamma seduces him and performs a special dance (which she had been taught by her dead dance teacher) imbued with martial arts to lull Pasupathi and then cuts off his tongue (thus ending the incantations) and pins his hands, ultimately cutting off the ropes of a chandelier and allowing it to fall on his body. She spares him from being killed to prevent him from becoming a 'pretatma' (a demonic poltergeist). Pasupathi is buried alive in a tomb and powerful 'yantras' (defensive spells) with inscriptions from Vedas and the holy scriptures are put on it to prevent him from coming out. Jejjamma, as a final measure, goes to the Aghories for help. They tell her that Pasupathi cannot be killed the way she is now and she must be reborn again in order to kill him. She sacrifices her own life and goes through intense torture-enduring coconuts being broken on her head and the like, while mantras are chanted. Before she dies, she tells her son that she will be reborn as the first daughter to be born in the family. This is the reason that Arundhathi's grandfather always treats her with respect. The queen dies, her body is burnt, and her relics are fashioned into a dagger – the one weapon that could destroy Pasupathi forever.
After this revelation through a flashback, a worker in a trance, unknowingly breaks the tomb and releases the 'pretatma'. The revenge drama ensues again. Anwar (Sayaji Shinde) who treats patients through sorcery tells her that she is none other than Jejamma and asks her to fight Pasupathi. From the portrait of Jejjamma which was painted by Jejjamma herself during her last days in the fort, Arundhati comes to know that her great-grandmother had prepared a 'weapon' with her own bones and had kept it with siddhas(Sage). . Then Arundhati thought that the Rahul needs a help in Pasupathi's room, but only Pasupathi was there and Rahul was not there. So Pasupathi stabs Arundhati with knife. Then Arundhati was admitted in the hospital for five days and then she goes to Anwar's palace. Then Anwar and Arundhati proceed to procure the weapon, and while doing so, Anwar meets with an accident and falls off a cliff.
Arundhati, believing that Anwar is dead, is left with no option but to return to the fort to surrender herself to Pasupathi, to prevent the death of her family members and he forcefully wears her the old dress. Anwar, who survives the fall, collects the weapon and hands it to Arundhati. The siddhas who crafted the weapon for Jejjamma tell Anwar that the weapon has to be soaked in Arundhathi's blood before it can be used. Otherwise it will not know that the opponent is a villain. Arundathi tries to kill Pasupathi but it does not work. Before Anwar tells her the secret about the weapon being soaked in blood, Pasupathi kills him. As a last resort to save herself from being tormented by Pasupathi, Arundhati tries to kill herself with the same weapon and in the process the weapon gets soaked in her blood. The dagger glows brightly and the power incantations inscribed on it glow with energy. Arundhati finally slays Pasupathi.
- Anushka Shetty as Arundhathi/Jejamma
- Sonu Sood as Pasupathi
- Arjan Bajwa as Rahul
- Sayaji Shinde as Anwar
- Manorama as Chandramma
- Kaikala Satyanarayana as Bhupathi Raja
- Subhashini as Pasupathi's Mother
- Bhanu Chander as Arindhati's Father
- Anita Raichurkar
- Ahuti Prasad
- Chalapati Rao
- Siva Parvati
- Divya Nagesh as Young Arundhati
From the words of Shyam Prasad Reddy: had put my mind and soul into making of Anji. I worked really hard and enjoyed the process of working hard. I had seen failures before, but not of Anji magnitude. I was depressed after the release of Anji and lost my confidence. One and half year after the release of Anji, it got national award for the graphics. Our team went to New Delhi and got the award from the President of India. We mixed with best of the talent from all over the India during the awards function. We were partying that night to celebrate the award and the idea of making Arundhati struck me. I decided to make another film with more focus and dedication. I came back to Hyderabad next day and started working on it. I liked films like Chandramukhi and Exorcist. I hated ‘A Nightmare On Elms Street’. I hate gore. But I am passionate about thrillers. I feel that horror genre is absurd. Fear is an emotion. I don’t think that all films should have navarasaalu. I believe in mastering one emotion and take it to the peaks in my films. You don’t see comedy and duets in Arundhati. People should experience a rollercoaster ride while watching Arundhati. I had rollercoaster ride while watching Jandhyala’s comedy Sreevariki Premalekha. A horror film has only small segment of viewers in India. I did not want to make just another film that creates fear in the mind of audiences. I made it a female oriented story for a bigger appeal so that entire family can watch it. I added classical dance to it. I wanted to mount the film on a grandeur scale. The film is going to be a pleasant watch except for two harsh scenes. I wanted to play the film on ‘fear of the evil spirit’. Arundhati is about good fighting evil. Hence I had to make sure that both the characters of Arundhati and Pasupati equally powerful. Otherwise, there will not be any dramatic impact to the film. We did not spare any efforts to get the right actors. I got inspired by watching international movies but I am not a great fan of Hollywood. I love watching Japanese films and European films made by independent filmmakers. These films are so powerful that their 2-years of hard work gets translated into a 2-hour compact inspiring movie. They make movies with so much of passion, conviction that it hits you when you watch those films. I want to capture those memories of my aunt with Manorama character in this film where she narrates the flashback by sitting on a stool where as all other kids sit around her and listen to her story interestingly. Coming to the inspiration part, there is nothing wrong in getting inspired. If you have stuff in yourself, you get inspired in a good way. If you are shallow, it just resonates. Coming to Arundhati, let me give the example of Fakir (Sayaji Shinde) characterisation. Fakir character draws inspiration from the priest character in The Omen (1976) film. The priest keeps warning Gregory Peck about Satan repeatedly. The Omen film was released when I was 16 years old and I was studying my 10th class. I watched that film for 15 times in Devi theatre, Chennai. I still remember all the scenes and dialogues of that film. The Omen film made a lasting impact on me.
Anushka (Arundhati/Jejemma): For this film to succeed, the heroine has to be right. I considered many options and approached some heroines. But I was not getting the right heroine. One day Gemini Kiran asked me why my next project was not starting. I told him that I was not getting the right heroine. He asked me for the specifications. I told him that I need a heroine with 5 feet and 10 inches height and she should look royal because she the queen, she rides on horses and elephants. He suggested the name of Anushka. I watched Super film and contacted her. We had many auditions. I gave her a scene in the film and told her that we are not going to give her any directions. She has to read the scene, interpret in her own way and enact the scene. She was terrified a bit, but gave a satisfactory performance. Sowmya Sharma had dubbed for the character of mordern day Arundhati and shilpa for Jejjama
Sonu Sood (Pasupathi): I had Tamil actor Pasupati in my mind when I wrote the story. That is why I named the character as Pasupathi. He looks extremely good for the role of Aghora. But there is a royal side to the character where he has to look princely. That is when Ashok film got released and I noticed Sonu Sood in that film. I got hold of his number and called him over phone. I asked him to fly down to Hyderabad for get-up check. He was little surprised. When I shown him the sketches of Pasupathi character, he did not like playing such kind character. He came down for get-up check. Ramesh, who worked for Kamal Hassan films including Dasavatharam has worked for some of my films where I needed some challenging make-up work. Initially I wanted small inscriptions tattooed on the entire body of Sonu Sood in Aghora get-up. Ramesh told us that it would take six hours to do that make-up every day. He did inscription tattoos only on chest and stomach which took around 3 hours every time. Sonu Sood’s get-up also has a scar and big nails. We went into thorough detailing for that get-up. Though he did not like his role, he accepted it by looking at our enthusiasm. P.RaviShankar dubbed for Sonu's character in both the Tamil and Telugu versions.
Initially I asked him for 20 days. He quoted Rs 18 lakhs as remuneration for 20 days. He also gave an option where he would work for more number of days if we paid Rs 20 lakhs. I paid him Rs 18 lakhs and told him that I would pay Rs 25,000 per every extra day. And I ended up paying Rs 43 lacs at the end for the number of extra days I used him. I am very glad that he became successful in Hindi and is quoting to the tune of Rs 1 crore per film now.
Sayaji Shinde (Talla Sayibu): Sayaji Shinde is like a hero on screen. He would help heroine at crucial moments. I considered Nasiruddin Shah, Nana Patekar and Atul Kulakarni for this role. And none of their dates were available. I called Sayaji Shinde for get-up change. He perfectly suited the role. He did lot of research on Fakir character on his own and used to tell us interesting things on sets. He has immense potential. He tries to understand each and every dialogue and scene. He would question us if he is not convinced. And he gives precisely what we want.
- Best Villain – Sonu Sood
- Best Child Actress – Divya Nagesh
- Best Editor – Marthand K Venkatesh
- Best Art Director – Ashok
- Best Audiographer – Radhakrishna & Madhusudhan Reddy
- Best Costume Designer – Deepa Chandar
- Best Makeup Artist – Ramesh Mahanti
- Best Male Dubbing Artist – P. Ravi Shankar
- Nandi Award for Best Special Effects – Rahul Nambiar
- Special Jury Award – Anushka Shetty
- Filmfare Best Actress Award (Telugu) – Anushka Shetty (2009)
- Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award (Telugu) – Sonu Sood (2009)
Reception & Box office
Rediff gave a three stars out of five said "The main plus points of the film are screenplay (creative director Rahul Nambiar and the Mallemalla Unit), art direction (Ashok), cinematography (Senthil Kumar), editing (Marthand K. Venkatesh), special effects and the performances of Anushka [Images], Sonu Sood and Sayaji Shinde. On the whole, Arundhati is a watchable film provided you don't have a weak heart and don't get into discussing logic, science and rationality. Just watch what unfolds on the screen – for that's visual grandeur". Sify gave verdict as "Worth a watch" with four stars noted "The film has come across with some really mind blowing graphics and presentation, even the performances were top notch that helped. While the drums scene is a take from the Chinese movie 'House of Flying Daggers' it was well taken and presented. The shock points are high and one can say that the film is definitely not for the weak hearted. There are enough chilling moments to shake the audience off their chair. The film is one of the best made ever in the history of Telugu cinema in terms of technical values so it deserves to be a good hit".
- "'Arundhathi' made on 13 crores". IndiaGlitz. Archived from the original on 14 December 2008. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
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- Arundhati – Post mortem – Telugu cinema – M Shyam Prasad Reddy. Idlebrain.com (18 February 2009). Retrieved 7 June 2012.
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- "Arundhati is haunting and thrilling". Rediff. Archived from the original on 22 January 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
- "Movie Review :Arundhati". Sify.
- [dead link]
- 'Arundhathi' Satellite rights for Rs 7 Crores. Lazydesis (19 February 2009). Retrieved 7 June 2012.