B. Vittalacharya’s movies might not have won appreciation from film critics of his time, but he never cared. He believed that movies are meant for entertainment and his job was to entertain the audience from the opening scene to the last.
After a couple of unsuccessful attempts with social themes, he found the route to success through folklore films. Children, and even adults among a generation of the audience, were awe-struck watching the hero fighting with dinosaurs, giant lizards and other wild animals. Computer graphics and advanced technology did not exist those days. Just by using matte shots, assisted by his art director Nagaraj and expert cinematographers H. S. Venu, S. D. Lal and Ravi Nagaich (to name a few), he created incredible visuals on the silver screen. No wonder Vittalacharya’s brilliance in the conception of folklore films won him the epithet ‘Janapada Brahma.’
Vittalacharya is well known to the present generation of Telugu movie buffs too, thanks to reruns of his movies on television channels. Some among them may be curious about his personal life, his foray into tinsel town and his subsequent growth as the torch bearer of folklore in South cinema. The book, Jai Vittalacharya, on the legendary illustrious career addresses that need, to some extent.
Long overdue, this biography of the elusive auteur took a lot of work to pen. Except for a couple of interviews and articles published in popular periodicals at the beginning of his career, no substantial material on him is available. Though well-known for his monetary discipline as a producer and director, his generosity as a philanthropist was known only when the beneficiaries revealed it.
It would be a daunting task for any writer to author Vittalacharya’s biography. But Pulagam Chinnarayana’s zealous, relentless pursuit for months led him to interview the ace director’s sons, daughters and other family members, the heroes, heroines and technicians who worked for his films, as well as senior journalists. The result is a 528-page long megabook, Jai Vittalacharya, that unveils the personal and professional life of the legendary director.
With three Nandi awards in his repertoire, Pulagam Chinnarayana with his racy narration style, takes us to the magical world of Vittalacharya’s universe by reviewing 30 plus of his directorial films. Interestingly, the peek into the ‘behind the scenes’ while making a movie is referred at the beginning of each review.
Do you know that Vittalacharya directed hero Krishna’s first multi-starrer? The fascinating parts of the book are the anecdotes. Here is one such reminiscence, a hilarious incident on the sets of a Vittalacharya movie:
A disciplinarian, Vittalacharya never allowed any lead actor to play truant with him. Once, a popular hero did not report to the shooting of one of his folklores. Vittalacharya immediately changed the script, and transformed the hero into an animal as cursed by a sage. To quote Vittalacharya: “I called an animal trainer who brought an animal and shot the scene. From the next day, I did not face any problems from the hero. He reported to the sets on time.”
Vittalacharya once said, “Folklore films have no death. As of now they might have lost their prominence, however, they are bound to regain their past glory, If new generation filmmakers with new thoughts employ changing technology to make folklore films.” Quoting him in his book, Chinnarayana adds, “His prophecy has come true. S. S. Rajamouli’s Baahubali proved that Vittalacharya was right.”
A comprehensive book on Vittalacharya, his style of making a movie, his journey with his works , and his personality, Jai Vittalacharya comes with rare personal photographs of the veteran director, besides stills from his films.
Zeelan Basha Shaikh, a film buff and journalist from Movie Volume Media, turned a publisher with this book.
Attractively printed on art paper, the book is a treasure trove for movie buffs and researchers on Telugu cinema.
(Jai Vittalacharya by Pulagam Chinnarayana. Hardbound edition. Pages: 528 Price: ₹650 . Publishers: Movie Volume Media, Kavuri Hills Phase 1, Hyderabad-500073, Phone: 040-35113522 / 9640254786)