Around 45 years ago, Sandalwood witnessed the glory of one of its most popular and iconic movies to hit the screens. A timeless classic — Nagarahavu, directed by the brilliant Puttanna Kanagal, and produced by the equally popular Veeraswamy, the father of Crazy Star V Ravichandran, it saw the emergence of the legendary actor Dr Vishnuvardhan.
Playing an angry young man’s character Ramachari, Vishnuvardhan became a star overnight. Of the many firsts, with a song in it, this is the first-ever film in Indian cinema to be shot completely in slow motion. It was remade in Tamil and Telugu including Hindi as Zehreela Insaan starring Rishi Kapoor, Moushumi Chatterjee and Neetu Singh along with our own Rebel Star Ambareesh.
The film made on a whopping budget of `14 lakh in that day and age, it was shot for over 70 days, mostly in Chitradurga. As the film and its characters have mesmerised the Kannada audience, the latest digital version in cinemascope and 7.1 DTS effects, is set to release this Friday. The youngest son of the late Veeraswamy, V Balaji who relentlessly worked on the classic for over two years speaks to Bengaluru Chronicle on this deadly cobra taking to the digital byte!
“I was not even born when Nagarahavu was released. I have seen it so many times, and every time I feel the same emotion. Every character in the movie is as popular as the film itself. The true feelings and emotions attached to it was the sole reason for me to take up its digital conversion. I wanted the present generation to witness it too. They wouldn’t have enjoyed the film if it was re-released in the original format — 35 mm. The negatives of the film were considered almost useless, and dumped somewhere before I fortunately laid hands on it,” says V. Balaji.
The restoration work on the negatives took a year-and-a-half alone, and it took an added six months to digitise it. “A lot of work went into it to ensure the essence of the work of the legendary director and artistes were not disturbed during digitisation,” he explains.
“It is a priceless classic, which is an integral part of the Kannada film industry and its fans. Hence it is inappropriate to put a price tag over the digital expenditure. When I first put forth this idea to my brother, Ravichandran, he was thrilled. He adores the character of Ramachari, and feels that he was not as fortunate as Vishnu Sir, who had the opportunity to portray such a powerful role right at the beginning of his career,” Balaji adds.
Actor and director Raghuram is looking forward to watching the film with excitement, “Every character is memorable, and they are etched forever in the minds of the Kannada audience.”
While releasing the teaser of the latest Nagarahavu, Kiccha Sudeep had said, “Vishnu Sir is one of those rare actors whose legacy still rules over crores of hearts. Make way my friends, Ramachari is back!”
From the title of the film, to the popular characters that have inspired several filmmakers, with popular dialogues like those of Rebel Star Ambareesh as Jaleela in it, and a song featuring veteran actress Jayanthi as Obavva, are among the many highlights that not just fans, even star actors are eagerly waiting to witness. Make way for Ramachari and his teacher Chamayya Mestru in Nagarahavu.
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