Dr Vishnuvardhan's earliest movies, Nagarahavu directed by late maverick director Puttanna Kanagal was re-released yesterday. The film has opened to a phenomenal response from the audience. While celebrities have given their thumbs up to the digitized and better version of the Kannada classic hit, Nagarahavu, youngsters who had missed the yesteryear hit has hailed the film as the best one till date.
The film has been produced and re-released under N Veeraswami's Eashwari Productions banner by his younger son Balaji. The re-release of the cult kannada classic had raised a lot of expectations among the audiences. The newer version of Nagarahavu has been released in more than 200 screens across Karnataka.
Besides, the hype surrounding the re-release was such that people queued up before theatres days in advance to grab their tickets. The weekend tickets have been sold out with theatres putting out a housefull board. Multiplexes are cashing in on the craze by jacking up prices of tickets for weekend shows. Like any other new movie, the makers of this film too held special shows as early as 6am on the first day. The film features late Kannada legendary actor Dr Vishnuvardhan as the angry young man of Sandalwood. The iconic Ramachari role played by Vishnuvardhan is being talked about even to this day. The film which was released in 1972 had created the same hype and garnered as much appreciation from movie buffs back then.
On day one itself, the film raked in a whopping one crore at the ticket window from the advance booking of tickets. This is a record collection for any movie re-released till now. With the film making all the right noises, the film's collections are only said pick up over the weekend.
It's worth mentioning here that Nagarahavu was remade in Hindi as Zehreela Insaan, Kode Nagi in Telugu and Raaja Naagam in Tamil all of which were hits.
Nagarahavu is based on a novel authored by renowned Kannada writer TaRaSu (TR Subba Rao). The director Putanna Kanagal, back then had combined three books of the author to give movie buffs a mind-blowing celluloid experience. TaRaSu authored Nagarahavu, Ondu Gandu Eradu Hennu and Sarpa Mathasara which were all combined to make into a single movie. Incidentally, the film marked Sampath Kumar aka Vishnuvardhan's debut film as the lead actor. His first release was Vamsha Vruksha where he played a supporting role. Nagarahavu changed the course of his career making the Abhinava Bhargava one of the most sought-after actors in Kannada cinema. His striking appearance as the angry young student as also his performance won the hearts of millions making him a competitor to the already established actor Dr Rajkumar.
Nagarahavu also featured Ashwath, Loknath, Vajramuni, MN Lakshmi Devi, MP Shankar in key roles. Rebel Star Ambareesh, who played the baddie also managed to garner huge praise for his performance. His whistle worthy rendition of the dialogue "ei bulbul mathadakilva" is popular even to this day among his fans. The leading lady was Arathi, who became a household name in Sandalwood after her spellbinding performance in the film. Supporting actress Shubha, who plays a critical role in the film won an award as best supporting actress while Vishnu and Arathi won state awards in the best actor and actress category respectively. On the other hand, TaRaSu was adjudged the best story writer while Chi Udayshankar drew a thunderous round of applause for his hard hitting dialogues. Putanna Kanagal walked away with the best screenplay award for Nagarahavu. Ashwath who played Ramachari's teacher won the best supporting actor. His performance and role stands out in the film.
Even years after its release, there have been remakes and the iconic title track from the film "Haavina dwesha, hannerdu varusha has been used and reused in several movies.
This is not the first time a Vishnu movie has been re-released. Earlier his other films Khaidi, Sahasasimha and Onde Guri too were released after decades. However, what makes this film different is the fact that Nagarahavu was his debut film as lead actor and had also pushed his star status to a different level altogether after its release.
It's worth mentioning here that it was the then Congress MP SM Krishna who helped the filmmaker get permission from Archaeology Department to shoot another iconic song "Obavva" at the Chitradurga fort. The song chronicled the life of Onake Obavva whose act of bravery became an unforgettable chapter in Karnataka history. The role of Onake Obavva first went to Kalpana and then Jayanti after the former refused to play a guest role, it is learnt. Jayanti's performance in the hit number "Kannada Nadina Veera Ramaniya" became one of the highlights of the film.
The film also created history for being the first film to have a song shot in slow motion 'Baare Baare'.
The other crew members who lent their services to making this film a perfect one were none other than Cinematographer Chittibabu, Editor Bhaktavatsala and musician Vijay Bhaskar who has rendered some soul wrenching music in the film.
Eashwari Productions has now released the film in cinemascope and boasts of 7.1 sound technology. The audience who have seen the new version can't stop raving about the experience of watching an iconic film in a better version altogether. Balaji of Easwari Combines deserves a pat on his back for fetching the negatives of the film from a godown at Chennai's Gemini Lab. It took two years and the work of some 65 technicians to realise his dream of restoring the film in its new version. The music was re-recorded with 60 musical instruments, it is said.
Balaji now has his eyes set on three more classics. Two featuring Rajkumar—Kula Gaurava and Naa Ninna Mareyalaare and the third one is Prema Loka which starred his brother V Ravichandran's musical romantic hit Prema Loka.
According to latest reports, the makers spent a whopping Rs 2 crores on restoring the Kannada classic Nagarahavu. However, trade analysts say that the makers have already made a business of Rs 3 crores and the film is expected to rake in more moolah in the coming days.
Those who managed to watch the rereleased version of the iconic film have shared their reviews on Twitter. Here's the audience reaction to Vishnuvardhan's Nagarahavu.
For the uninitiated here’s a sneak peek into the film’s trailer...