|Directed by||Trivikram Srinivas|
|Produced by||Jayabheri Kishore
|Written by||Trivikram Srinivas|
|Narrated by||Sumon pramanik (RAJNAGAR )|
|Music by||Mani Sharma|
|Cinematography||K. V. Guhan|
|Edited by||Sreekar Prasad|
|12 August 2005|
Athadu (Telugu: అతడు, English: He) is a 2005 Telugu action thriller written and directed by Trivikram Srinivas. The movie features an ensemble cast of Mahesh Babu, Trisha Krishnan, Sonu Sood, Kota Srinivasa Rao, Sayaji Shinde, Nassar and Prakash Raj. The film was produced by D. Kishore and M. Ram Mohan on Jayabheri Arts banner while actor Murali Mohan was the presenter of the film. Story, Screenplay and Dialogues were penned by Trivikram Srinivas while Sirivennela Sitaramasastri and Viswa penned the lyrics for the songs. The movie's soundtrack was scored by Mani Sharma. K. V. Guhan handled the cinematography of the film while Sreekar Prasad edited the film. Thota Tharani was the art director of the film while Peter Hein was the stunt and fight choreographer.
The film narrates the story of two professional killers Nandu and Malli who are orphans. Nandu is assigned an assassination attempt on a politician who gets killed by somebody before Nandu could shoot. During his escape, Nandu turns the reason for Pardhu's death who was returning to his native town after running away in his childhood. Nandu masquerades as Pardhu before his family and the rest of the film is the bond he shares with them and the consequences when he comes to know the real killer of the politician who turns out to be his partner-in-crime Malli.
After many delays, the film released on 12 August 2005 worldwide in theaters and was also the first Telugu film to have a simultaneous release in Chennai. It received moderate reviews from critics and generated a divide talk from the first day. While critics praised the performances of the film's ensemble cast, Trivikram Srinivas' taking and dialogues, K. V. Guhan's photography, Mani Sharma's music and Peter Hein's action sequence choreography, they criticized the film's length and also called few scenes in the film a rehash of many English films including the 1998 film U.S. Marshals and the 2000 film Meet The Parents. It was also alleged that the film's story is based on the 1993 English thriller novel Point of Impact written by Stephen Hunter. However, the film was well received by the audience and was highly successful.
The film went on to become one of the highest grossing films in Tollywood and marked Mahesh Babu's career resurgence after a hat-trick of flops. But some trade analysts call it a cost failure due to the budget being shot beyond estimations and a principal photography lasting for nearly 2 years. Still, it is regarded as one of the classics of contemporary Telugu cinema and won 3 Nandi Awards and a Filmfare Awards South in Best Director category. The movie was dubbed into Tamil and Malayalam languages as Nandhu and Target respectively. It was later remade in Hindi as Ek starring Bobby Deol, Nana Patekar, Shriya Saran, & Kulbhushan Kharbanda and in Bengali as Wanted. It was also dubbed into Polish for a release in Poland as a Poszukiwany (Seeking) thus becoming the first Telugu film released in Poland. It received an overwhelming response there as well. The film was also dubbed in Hindi as Cheetah – The Power of One and released through YouTube on 11 February 2013 by Goldmines Telefilms.
Nanda Gopal a.k.a. Nandu (Mahesh Babu) is a professional assassin, and Malli (Sonu Sood) is his partner. State level opposition party leader Shiva Reddy (Sayaji Shinde) wants someone to attempt an assassination on him so that he can gain sympathy votes in the upcoming elections and become the new Chief Minister after promoting his party in such conditions. His colleague Baji Reddy (Kota Srinivasa Rao) with the help of Farooq (Posani Krishna Murali) hooks him up with Nandu for a deal for ₹1.5 crores. After receiving the payment, Nandu and Malli plan the fake assassination attempt at the promotion campaign held nearby and they choose a nearby building to hide and a car to escape. However, before Nandu can shoot Shiva Reddy, someone else fatally shoots him. Within minutes, police surround the building. Just before the exit of the building, a big car accident occurs on the street with Nandu's car. Nandu assumes that Malli got trapped and died in the accident. So Nandu goes to the top of the skyscraper. With the police behind him and in front of him, he is helpless. Suddenly a train comes and Nandu uses a rope to jump from the skyscraper to the train. On the train, Nandu meets Pardhasaradhi a.k.a. Pardhu (Rajiv Kanakala) and travels with him.
Pardhu reveals that he ran away from his village Basarlapudi in his childhood when he was young. Pardhu explains that he is finally returning to his village. Later that same evening, police officers try to shoot Nandu but accidentally kill Pardhu. Nandu escapes and decides to go to Basarlapudi to tell that Pardhu is dead. But Nandu is unable to tell the truth and masquerades as Pardhu after spending some time with the family. Thinking that Nandu is Pardhu, Pardhu's family accepts Nandu into their family. Pardhu's cousin Puri (Trisha Krishnan) falls in love with Nandu at first sight not knowing the truth. Nandu solves many problems that Pardhu's family is facing and only Pardhu's friend Ramana (Sunil) knows the truth who becomes Nandu's close aid. Meanwhile, a CBI officer Anjaneya Prasad (Prakash Raj) is investigating the murder of Shiva Reddy and comes across Nandu a.k.a. Pardhu with the help of Railway reserved ticket for train in which Pardhu died on that day. He suspects Nandu of Shiva Reddy's murder and tries taking his fingerprints unconventionally, but gets outsmarted. Soon clues lead to Malli but it is known that he is dead in car accident. But shockingly, the petrol tanker which caused the accident was also hired by Malli.
Anjaneya Prasad meets an old prisoner Saadhu (Rahul Dev) to get new clues if any. Saadhu tells that Malli would generally accompany in escaping along with another guy who does the actual murder. He tells Anjaneya Prasad that the person's name is Nandu. After the marriage celebrations of the granddaughter of Pardhu's grandfather Satya Narayana Murthy (Nassar) end, CBI comes to catch Nandu after learning that Nandu is posing there as Pardhu after seeing a cheque en cashed by Satya Narayana Murthy at the local bank which was signed Nanda Gopal after getting details of Nandu's bank account at Hyderabad with the help of Saadhu and bank officials. Nandu learns of the situation and flees. After the CBI leave, Nandu returns to explain everything about himself and how Pardhu was killed. At first the family shows no interest in helping Nandu to find the real assassin as they are all shocked but Satya Narayana Murthy helps Nandu by giving him a gun (not knowing the fact that it contains a marble accidentally left by kids inside the barrel of the gun and that it would backfire when used). After reaching Hyderabad, Nandu calls Baji Reddy and demands to know who killed Shiva Reddy. At first, Baji Reddy refuses but when Nandu tells him that he recorded their first conversation on the phone, Baji Reddy reveals everything. It was Malli who killed Shiva Reddy for 2 crores offered by Baji Reddy so that he should become the next Chief Minister.
Malli faked his death by sending a drunkard in the car at the time of the accident. Nandu records this conversation and immediately leaves for the old church where Malli is. On the way to the church, an assassination attempt is made on Nandu by Anjaneya Prasad's assistant Ravi (Ravi Prakash) when they spot him on the road. Anjaneya Prasad arrests Ravi on spot as he finds out that Ravi is bribed and is ordered to do so. At the church, Nandu and Malli have a conversation where Malli says that he would get 0.5 crores when Shiva Reddy was attacked as per plan and 2 crores if he is dead. After receiving 3.5 crores, Malli gave information to the police and faked his death thus framing Nandu as the real assassin. After killing the police officers who attack him initially at the church, Nandu and Malli fight hard and in the end, Malli gets hold of Satya Narayana Murthy's gun and dies trying to shoot Nandu as it backfires due to the marble.
Nandu hands over the recorded cassette to Anjaneya Prasad at the church. Anjaneya Prasad meets Baji Reddy at the party office where celebrations were being done on the occasion of party's victory in the elections where it was speculated that Baji Reddy may be the new Chief Minister. Anjaneya Prasad plays the cassette and Baji Reddy says that this evidence is not enough to prove the crime. Anjaneya prasad accepts the fact but also adds that Shiva Reddy's hot-blooded son Prathap Reddy (Ajay) would kill Baji Reddy without a second thought after listening to this though the court may postpone its judgement and leaves his room. Trapped without any recourse, Baji Reddy commits suicide. At Gandipet, Nandu immerses Pardhu's ashes and Anjaneya Prasad lets him go to Pardhu's real family, where he plans to stay and unite with his lover Puri.
- Mahesh Babu as Nanda Gopal(Nandu) / Partha Sarathi(Pardhu)
- Trisha Krishnan as Puri, Pardhu's cousin
- Sonu Sood as Malli
- Prakash Raj as Anjaneya Prasad, a CBI Officer
- Nassar as Satya Narayana Murthy
- Brahmanandam as Krishna Murthy, uncle of Puri
- Sunil as Ramana, friend of Pardhu
- Sayaji Shinde as Shiva Reddy, opposition party leader
- Rajiv Kanakala as Pardhasaradhi a.k.a Pardhu
- Kota Srinivasa Rao as Baaji Reddy, Shiva Reddy's close aid
- Rahul Dev as Sadhu
- Ajay as Pratap Reddy, son of Shiva Reddy
- Sudha as Mother of Puri
- Giri Babu as Father of Puri
- Dharmavarapu Subramanyam as uncle of Puri
- Tanikella Bharani as Naidu
- Brahmaji as Nagasamudram Bujji
- Posani Krishna Murali as Farooq
- Ravi Prakash as Ravi, assistant of Anjaneya Prasad
- K. Vishwanath as CBI Officer (special appearance)
In an interview to the media about his film Julai, Trivikram shared his views on this film stating :
|“||I narrated the story of Athadu to Mahesh Babu before the start of Nuvve Nuvve shoot. Before making of Athadu, I fixed myself that I should not compromise at any cost. I wanted to make the film the way I envisioned it. I wanted to satisfy the audience in me after shooting every scene. I doubled checked each and every scene as an audience. I could able to do 80% of what I had imagined when I wrote the script. If you look at the first 15 minutes of Athadu movie, you will realize the level of intensity and technical finesse.||”|
Initially Trivikram wanted to do this film with Pawan Kalyan and narrated the script to him. But he did not show much interest in signing the film. Mahesh Babu listened to the script of this film in 2002 but Trvikram and the film's producers had to wait for him till he completes the shooting schedules of S. J. Surya's science fiction film Naani and Gunasekhar's family drama Arjun as they were his existing commitments then. The shooting started a month later after the completion of Arjun. For his characterization and the dialogues uttered by the character he played, Mahesh had to adjust to Trivikram's style of dialogues which took 10 days. Trisha Krishnan in an interview to the media on 29 June 2005 at the event of audio release stated that she would be seen in a role with shades of comedy though she added that her role was a limited one.
Murali Mohan later revealed that he wanted his friend and former Telugu actor Sobhan Babu to play the role of Satya Narayana Murthy which would have marked his comeback film who was busy with a highly profitable real estate business then. For the same, Murali Mohan even issued and sent a blank cheque to Sobhan Babu's residence at Chennai as the remuneration. But Sobhan Babu refused to do that role and rejected the offer politely. Later, Nassar portrayed that role with S. P. Balasubrahmanyam dubbing for him in frail voice and his performance was appreciated by critics.
For the film's shoot, 160 motion cameras were imported from London to shoot time-freeze effect shots in action sequences which was clarified by Mahesh himself as still cameras only. Because of non compromising, not more than 10 shots were shot per day. 4 to 5 complicated action sequences were shot under supervision of Peter Hein with much finesse and the climax sequence was shot indoor which took enormous time to complete thus making the principal photography end after a span of two years. A big set was constructed at Ramanaidu Studios in Nanakramguda at Hyderabad where most of the film's family scenes were shot. On 7 August 2004, a scene featuring Mahesh and Sunil was shot on the bridge of the lake at ICRISAT campus in Hyderabad.
|Soundtrack album to Athadu by Mani Sharma|
|Released||29 June 2005|
|Genre||Feature film soundtrack|
|Mani Sharma chronology|
Mani Sharma composed the music for this film marking his first collaboration with Trivikram Srinivas and eighth collaboration with Mahesh Babu. The film's soundtrack was released by Mahesh Babu's father and prominent Telugu actor Krishna on 29 June 2005 at the house set of the film constructed at Nanakramguda through Maruthi Music label. This album consists of six melodies composed by Mani Sharma while Sirivennela Sitaramasastri and Viswa penned the lyrics. Apart from Krishna, the film's lead pair, producers and Maruthi Music representatives attended the event.
The audio received moderately positive response from critics. IndiaGlitz wrote "Mani Sharma has tried to please all. If you are going to compare this one with his previous offerings for Mahesh, it does not do any one any good. On its own, the album has its moments." Upon the film's release, Mani Sharma's work was acclaimed by the critics and audience alike. IndiaGlitz wrote "Mani Sharma's music, especially the title song, is very good. His re-recording also fits the bill." idlebrain.com wrote "Music by Mani Sharma is good. The picturization of the first song which comes as background song for titles is wonderful. Neetho Cheppana song has got typical Mexican music. Background music and rerecording of the film is good." Sify.com wrote "The highlights of Athadu are the camerawork of K. V. Guhan and the melodious music and background score of Mani Sharma. The Neeto Chappana number picturised in the tea estates of Darjeeling is the pick of the album."
|2.||"Pillagali"||Sirivennela Sitaramasastri||Shreya Ghoshal||4:26|
|3.||"Avunu Nijam"||Sirivennela Sitaramasastri||K.K & Sunitha||4:27|
|4.||"Chandamama"||Sirivennela Sitaramasastri||Mahalakshmi Iyer, Ranjith & Suchithra||3:55|
|5.||"Neetho Cheppana"||Sirivennela Sitaramasastri||S.P.Balasubrahmanyam & Chitra||5:12|
|6.||"Pilichina Raanantaava"||Sirivennela Sitaramasastri||Karthik & Kavita Krishnamurthy||4:21|
The film released in 79 centers in Nizam region in Andhra Pradesh and was distributed by Maruthi Movies in which 3 centers screened the film for only 2 days. The film released in 24 centers across Vishakhapatnam and was distributed by Sri Venkateswara Films. Sri Bharathi Pictures released the film in Krishna district in 18 centers. The film was released simultaneously in 3 screens in Chennai and it was also the first Telugu film to do so.
The film was released with 6 prints in USA and was distributed by Vishnu Mudda and Soma Kancherla of Crown DVD distribution company in San Jose, Dallas, Detroit, Virginia, New Jersey, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Minneapolis, Phoenix at Arizona and also in centers like Lowell at Massachusetts, MA, Tulsa at Oklahoma, West Virginia, Springfield, Boulder at Colorado and Corpus Christi at South Texas. Because of the demand, another print was imported from India for screening. The film's first screening in USA happened at Cine Plaza 13 at North Bergen on the night of 11 August 2005. At Connecticut, a special screening was conducted on 19 August 2005. Initially one show was planned but because of the demand another show was screened. There at the theater, a turn out of 442 people was observed which included standing audience for 434 seats and about 60 could not be accommodated. Apart from USA, the film released in selected screens in United Kingdom, Singapore, Germany and Australia.
The film's satellite rights were sold for ₹1.8 crores to MAA TV after the completion of its 50-day run at the Box office. The DVD of the movie was released by Aditya Music under its Aditya Video Brand and won the best DVD award for its quality and is considered to be one of the highest sold DVDs in Tollywood history. After 7 years, MAA TV renewed the contract by paying an amount of ₹3.5 crores which was a record price for a 2005 Telugu film.
The film received moderated positive reviews. Sify.com gave a review stating "The highlight of the film is Mahesh Babu who looks cool, confident and competent as a hit man with his expressive body language and mannerisms. Athadu just about makes it as a slickly packaged entertainer but only for want of a better alternative." IndiaGlitz gave a review stating "The story sure has splendid potential, but the director does not use them to the hilt simply because he attempts to do too many things almost simultaneously. Yet, all things considered, Athadu is a good entertainer. The problem is you can't praise it as the best yet cannot rubbish it as being useless. It is somewhere in between with more pluses than minuses." idlebrain.com gave a review stating "The film opens in an extraordinary style. The first half an hour of the film is excellent. The remaining part of the first half is good. The second half of the film is little boring with very slow narration. On a whole, this film is a decent flick for class audiences. The commercial success of the film would depend on how masses embrace it. You may watch it" and rated the film 3.25/5. Cinegoer.net gave a review stating "True the film gives an image of a Hollywood base for the drama. Even the taking, screenplay structure and execution of scenes, less talk and more action – all add to this image. But there are elements in this film that only a Telugu man can do it originally. That is the love track. And the way Trivikram put to view the scenic structure between Mahesh Babu and Trisha is impressive and refreshing."
The film netted ₹ 1 million from 3 screens in Chennai in its opening weekend debuting at second position pushing Shankar's Anniyan down to the third place which was already declared as a blockbuster then. It collected approximately ₹220 million (US$3.4 million) in its total run, thus becoming the sensational hit of 2005 in Tollywood. The film had a 50 days run in 205 centers and a 100-day run in 38 centres. The film had a 175-day run in Sudarshan 35 mm, Hyderabad, grossing ₹ 1.40 crores from the theater.
|Nandi Awards||Best Actor||Mahesh Babu||Won|
|Best Dialogue Writer||Trivikram Srinivas||Won|
|Best Special Effects||C. H. Srinivas||Won|
|Filmfare Awards South||Best Director||Trivikram Srinivas||Won|
|Santosham Film Awards||Best Film||D. Kishore and M. Ram Mohan||Won|
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