Monday, January 31, 2011


NDTV did a small feature on Golconda High School yesterday. You can watch the same through this link.

Also yesterday was another day out at Prasad's with a bunch of old buddies from college - Madhav and Mama who just came yesterday morning from the USA, Koni, Kiri, me and Vidyanath. In all these days it was the most chilled out viewing for me and I enjoyed it once again, without missing a moment. It was another full house at Prasad's though it was a small screen but what was most satisfying was that everyone waited until the last picture was shown. Also a huge percentage of the crowd was families, young families, complete families - grandparents to grandchildren included - something that I am noticing in almost all theatres. My old friend Bhakar Ramamurthy, the captain of the Andhra Ranji team of yesteryear, in fact the captain of the Andhra  team against which I made my Ranji debut in 1985, was there with his family. Well done Mohan Krishna Indraganti - in these days to get people to come with their families from age eight to eighty and to keep them glued till the last frame.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Article in the Indian Express - January 30, 2010

This article was published in my Sunday column 'Un Intended' in the New Indian Express.

It's Time To Review Our Reviewers
Harimohan Paruvu
Once upon a time I used to watch movies and read books that were strictly recommended by friends and family. Whenever the recommendations were unreliable, I dropped the respective friends and relatives (leaving me with 4 friends as on date). As I grew older, I realized, to my consternation that the number of books and movies in the world were growing faster than my advisors. Between these mind boggling numbers and PR agencies that started doing better jobs at packaging and hyping movies and books, I got thoroughly confused. I looked for help. And then, like a boon from God, came the lot of reviewers to guide me with their trained eyes, articulate voices and independent views. 

All was well initially. I trusted reviews completely. But after a while, I developed doubts. The complex and deeply analytical reviews confused me, even more than the books and movies themselves. Many reviews caused me to wonder if I missed an important part of my education. The reviews themselves, I realized, needed lots of foussed study, probably by hundreds of qualified researchers.  Many times, what the reviews said was good was not and vice versa. This caused me to doubt my own judgment (which is a dangerous thing to happen in life). Were the reviewers seeing some great merit in this dull, plodding, senseless plot when all I wanted to do was to run far away from it? Why was I, despite my best efforts, not able to see those wonderful qualities that the reviewers were able to? After years of doubting my intelligence, I decided to study reviewers closely. 

After a short while it became clear to me that reviewers also come in human sizes and shapes, temperaments and profiles. It appeared to me that they were not made of some god like material which gives them power to perfectly assess books and movies. I heaved a sigh of relief. That was good news for me. If reviewers were human, they could possibly err!

Upon closer observation I started understanding them.  Some are reluctant reviewers who are sick and tired of reviewing stuff day in and day out. Considering the stuff they get to review, one does feel for them. (Even I try to get my books reviewed which thankfully, the sensible reviewers avoid.) There are health conscious reviewers who use reviews as a good therapy to get bile out of their system. There are express reviewers who review as fast as they can and in their haste, confuse one with another, and end up reviewing a completely different creation they have created. Then there are slow reviewers who never review anything. There are knowledgeable reviewers who end up writing about some great epic or movie they were reminded of and not what they were allegedly reviewing. There are elaborate reviewers who say nothing, and some who write small reviews that can kill. Some write all nice things and give bad ratings. Some write all bad things and give good ratings. Some say must watch and must read and shut off their phones before people start calling them.
All in all, I think I now understand and sympathise with the lot of the reviewers. Earlier only good books and good movies were made. Now everyone is writing and making movies, including me. Constant exposure to such toxic stuff would certainly affect anyone’s judgment. Our reviewers need rest from the stuff they are reviewing - only certified stuff should be given to them. It’s time we reviewed this whole reviewing business. But until then I suggest we have a review system to review the reviewers.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Golconda High School - Now At Gokul

Well this was a real surprise. I was checking out the theatres that GHS was playing in this week when I suddenly saw the name of Gokul theatre. My face broke into a huge smile when I saw that - its like the same pride of playing a big match before your home crowd. Gokul was our home theatre ever since it got made way back in the late seventies or early eighties. I remember it being made, remember going to the first movies there, remember going there with family, with friends and many times alone. In college when you had nothing else to do, I'd put the four or five bucks that the top class cost and strolled over to watch whatever movie was playing. I remember watching 'Star' which had Kumar Gaurav in the role of a rock star alone. Many big movies like Naseeb (Chanti and Visalakshi), Mahaan (Hari and gang on the first day first show), Kaalia (Mohan), Bobby and several other movies in Hindi and Telugu were watched here.

So when I saw the list of theatres I could not hold myself back and called Ashok Yadav, the owner of the theatre along with several of his cousins, and a fine cricketer in his day, and said that we'd watch it together. Of course Ashok said that we should watch the morning show at 1145 and so I went to the theatre where I was joined by Sriraj and we viewed it from the balcony. Gokul is a massive theatre which seats 1200 and I could see its size for the first time. The theatre was only partly full but whatever crowd was present had a ball whistling and yelling at all the high points.

This evening I had a date with VB Chandrasekhar, former Indian cricketer and selector and now commentator, who has been supportive of my writing forays and was my guest at the Chennai launch of 'The Men Within'. He was in town to commentate on the Duleep Trophy match and despite his hectic schedule he made it to the movie at Prasad's where the show was half full. VB does not understand Telugu but he sat through it and enjoyed himself. So for the first time in my life I ended up seeing the same movie twice in a day. I am glad that the movie was Golconda High School and once again I saw it from the first credits to the end. I really do not want to miss out a single frame.

Another first for the day was going to the Secretariat. That was an interesting experience too.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Golconda High School - 18 times!!

I think the most I have viewed a movie is Golconda High Scool till date. Going out with different sets of friends and well wishers has been a great excuse for me to watch this fantastic movie. I must have seen it about 12 times now including the two premieres and tell you what, it is getting better. I winced, I laughed, I sang with the singers, I held my breath and I shook my head as I did before. Three year old Anjali watched it for the fourth time yesterday and cheered it on happily. Before GHS I must have watched Geetanjali the most in a theatre (7-8 times), Don (4-5 times) the most.

Among the reactions I have got yesterday were two strong and straight from the heart ones from my friends. While Sridhar confessed that the movie made him weep at times, Shailender said that it impacted him deeply and that he identified strongly with the uncertainties that one faces in life. I am taking the sting off by reporting it blandly but there was genuine emotion in my friends' voice. Also the expression on Aarushi's and Anshuman's face said it all. They loved it.

Another one I heard over phone yesterday that made my day was when my friend my OU Engineering college said that his 8 or 10 year old nephew has watched the film 18 times! He had to be stopped from viewing it by his mother! That to me was among the sweetest news I heard about the movie. To give that kind of a reference to someone, more so a youngster - to dream big, to work hard, to plan, to live with belief, with conviction, with values - is awesome because it can change the way the world is when they grow up. And so many more youngsters who have said 'awesome uncle, it touched my heart' with stars in their eyes. They can seriously change the world and I believe it wholeheartedly. This is a responsibility we have and if we have done it well, we can pat ourselves on our back. As for the commerce, I am fully confident that the audiences will also display their faith in the movie by watching it in theatres.

I have some more comments that I received that I will share but enough to say that all of them justify the effort that went into the making of this movie. I will share them later though.

Golconda High School - An Outing With Some Special People

Yesterday I watched Golconda High School at Prasad's Imax with Mrs. Jayanthi Jaisimha, who was my Chief Guest when 'The Mn Within' was first launched, Vivek Jaisimha my captain and friend for many years at MCC and the Ranji Trophy and Mona Jaisimha, Vivek's wife and another of my staunchest supporters especially when it comes to my creative forays. I owe much of my cricketing success to the Jaisimha's, Vidyuth in particular for always backing me and staying with me, Uncle (Mr. M.L. Jaisimha) who in the way he lived his life taught us so many things about the game and about life, Aunty who has always treated all of us as her own children for about 25 years now and Vivek who was always accessible and sympathetic and who made our transition from league cricket to first class cricket easy.

The Jaisimha family has always had a special place in my heart because of the way they took us all into their home and their hearts right from the time we were 15 years old. It was Vidyuth who, as he always has done, backed me fully when we, as South Zone Under 15 players were discussing what we would do after we pass out of school. I remember us both strolling  around the lovely turf ground in what was Calcutta then, waiting for the rain affected match in 1982, and the surprise on his face when I said I might not play any more because I did not have any team after my tenth class at school. Vidyuth quickly fixed me up to play for MCC, then one of the prize sides in the AI league which only had 14 of the best teams - the banks, HBCC, DBCC, SCR, LPG were some of the teams I can recollect. The standard was quite high with about 70% players having played Ranji Trophy in that bunch or on the verge of it. In that standard of cricket, under stalwarts and forceful personalities that the world acknowledged like MLJ, I stepped on the next year to learn cricket "the way it should be played". Much of my learning from MLJ I have recounted earlier in my conribution to his biography (which I will share on my blog as well) but suffice to say my journey from a child to novice really happened there.

We'd fight matches with 9 players, draw against big teams on sheer tactical strength and will power and most of all we'd celebrate whether we won or lost. It was so much fun playing for MCC those days that I remember opposing teams that won the match look at us in envy as if we had won the game. That was the spirit of the game. We enjoyed it, we played hard, we were taught gamesmanship just as we learnt the importance of values, belief and sheer gumption. We upset some of the biggest teams in those three years, caused many skippers to resign, forced our way into the Ranji camp and almost pulled off a coup when, under Vivek, we stumbled at the final hurdle by the thinnest of margins on quotient.

When we beat Syndicate Bank, the star studded topper of the league then, the celebrations started at the MLJ household from the afternoon itself and carried on well into the night, Discussions, beer biryani, about fifty people going in and out of the house, music and Aunty never had anything to say except when things got out of control. She always treated all of us young cricketers as her own and deserves as much recognition for being there for us as any of the players because she had the right word, the right gesture to put us at ease. Venkatpathy, Azhar, Laxman, Noel and an endless list of cricketers have benefited from this family's love and advise just as we all had.

So it was very special for me to take them. Vidyuth and his wife Reetika, another staunch supporter of my creative forays, had already seen the movie (Vidyuth twice before). We watched loaded with popcorn and ice cream etc. I sat next to Vicky who enjoyed the movie just as Mona and Aunty did. I almost thought I'd have one seat vacant for Uncle as well, who would have approved of the movie (I'd give anything to see his expression after the movie), but decided not to do anything so dramatic. We sat down after the movie and had a cup of coffee at Ohri's discussing the movie. Shobhs and Anjali played the perfect hostesses.

Of course we were joined By Sreedhar N, our classmate from Engineering and MBA who came with his family, Shailendra, Seema and their lovely kids Aarushi and Anshuman, Subbi our good old friend from many years who joined us. I bumped into Subramanyam my classmate from OU Electrical who is now with PWC who came with his family, Dr. Rahguveer and his family and also bumped into Raghuveer from our St. Gabriel's days in Warangal at the theatre. All in all a very satisfying evening. And, of, the show was houseful as well which was highly satisfying as well!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Article in the Indian Express - January 23, 2011

Th following article appeared in my Sunday column 'Un Intended' in the New Indian Express.

Incoherent Crews At 30, 000 Feet
Harimohan Paruvu
There are times in life when communication becomes extremely important. Times like when you are flying 30000 ft high in an airplane and you have no clue about what to do except put your seat belts on and take them off. In such times one should understand what the crew is saying - else its curtains. So when I was aboard this plane recently and realized that I could not understand a word, I got worried. 

We were flying smoothly along at 30000 ft when this voice came on. ‘Goood evenin las n gentm, this is your capn Ra Sug speaig …’. I got worried. If he was the captain why was he speaking like he was faraway? Was someone holding him hostage? Was he slurring? Was he getting off the plane at 30000 ft? Was he speaking from some remote location? Then I suddenly remembered that almost all the pilots I’ve heard, speak this way. Maybe the stress of flying makes them speak in this cryptic fashion. Or maybe they have some special flying instrument in their throat that makes it difficult to speak normally. Or maybe they are trained to speak in a secret code to throw off unwanted elements from their tracks. It made sense from a security perspective. I am pretty sure no one would understand what he said without using a secret code. I sympathized with the lot of the pilots. Though they had highly paid jobs, wore smart uniforms and were surrounded by pretty airhostesses, this did not seem right. Our pilot sounded like he needed help.

The copilot came on some time later, surprisingly loud and clear. I think we could have heard him even if he didn’t use the mike and he was still on ground. He rambled on about the wonderful weather, how high we were flying  etc in an obvious attempt to impress the air hostesses.  ‘I hope you have a great time and a great time was had by you and we are happy to give you a great time because we are here to give you…’ I think at that point the captain shut off the system or strangled the copilot with the mike because there was an abrupt sound and an awful silence after that. I prayed that the copilot was better with his flying (wherever he was) because I didn’t want to go round and round in circles for sure. One curious thing was that the copilot seemed to have better instruments to speak with. Not that marble instrument that the pilot was stuck in the throat with.

This time I paid keen attention to the airhostesses when they spoke, unlike the first time when they flailed their arms and distracted me. The airhostess spoke English like she was a foreigner. I understood nothing. If foreign accents are difficult, Indian foreign accents are impossible for me. To my surprise she spoke Hindi in the same accent as well. I understood nothing again. Now I was worried. I mean if we don’t understand a word of what the pilot, copilot and airhostesses say, how can we follow anything in a crisis? What if they ask us to sit quietly and we jump off the plane, or what if we open emergency doors instead of shutting them tight? That would be disastrous at 30000 ft.

I have a solution though. I think they should do what the satellite television guys have done to improve communication. If airlines use subtitles whenever the crew wishes to speak, we can stop putting on and taking off our seat belts for everything.

Golconda High School - Marching Strongly Into Its 2nd Week, Promos

Yesterday, being Sunday, the GHS team took off on a tour to theatres to promote the movie and interact with the audiences in the theatres. The viewership picked up sharply over the weekend with the highly positive word of mouth publicity and almost all theatres were full. I watched the movie at Prasad's on both days (yesterday with Jayesh Ranjan, Chamundi, Vidyuth, Reetika and Ram Gedela) and it was full both days.

But going back to the promo tour during the day - the entire GHS team came together with their coach Sumanth, Mohana Krishna Indraganti the director, and Sagar, Prasad and I joined them. We set off first to Vijayalakshmi at LB Nagar which was packed, and then to Rajdhani at Dilsukhnagar which was full house again. Sumanth, Santosh (Gautam), Srinivas Sai (Siddhanth), Lalith (Rajinder Singh), Suraj (Vikas) and Mohana Krishna spoke and interacted with the audience. A brief stopover for lunch and then we went to Sri Mayuri at X roads and Satyam at Ameerpet, a giant of a theatre before breaking up for a while. The reception was amazing as the audiences instantly identified the characters and called out for Gautam, Siddhanth, Rajinder, Ramesh and roared with approval when they came on stage. A youngster who met Mohan at Sri Mayuri spoke knowledgeably about cinema, said that this movie actually took  out all the flaws that Chak De had, and also about how Miracle,if made in this game would have been like this movie. All this in about two minutes. Very interesting. The team then proceeded to Arjun at Kukatpally while I went to join my freinds to view the movie - again.

Met a student from Aurora Business School, a designer I remember, who had come to view the movie as well with her friends. I was hoping to meet them after the movie but they appeared to have liked it. A couple of people actually stopped and asked me if I 'starred' in the movie and I said, yes, I bowled a couple of balls in the movie. I did not ever think that those few seconds on screen would be noticed so it was, in a way, my first recognition for being an actor. A first!!

But the theatre was full, my friends were appreciative of the effort, which made the effort well worth it. And for the nth time in a row, I watched the movie without missing a moment (save the beginning when I had to wait for Ram). I wanted to get back into the theatre to watch what was happening next, wanted to watch every frame despite having watched it nine times in the past ten or eleven days. And it only seems to get better for me. Honestly. I am looking for the first signs of boredom after so much exposure to it, but I was actually hurrying in to watch the movie after the interval. Reetika who understands Telugu only in bits and pieces was completely drawn into the movie and the drama and was very effusive in her praise. Good!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Golconda High School - Prasad's With Friends

I lost count now since the12th premiere at Vizag - 13th premiere at Vijayawada, 15th at Prasad's with family, 16th at Prasad's with cricketers and coaches, 17th with friends at Prasad's (Vidyuth and co), 18th with family at PVR, 19th was a break, 20th with the MBA gang (Shravan, Babs, Ramesh and co), 21st was a break and 22nd with friends again (Vasu, Kiran and co).  Today I watched it again at Prasad's with Vasu, Geeta, Kiran, Anita, Shobha and kids and loved ti again. It was a sight to see the full house watch the movie till the very end, until the rolling credits started without moving. And today, once again I heard people clapping at Prasad's which was highly satisfying. Good show guys.

I met one person who was with his family and he was highly appreciative, nay effusive in his praise for the movie, its message, it narration and content. He pointed out that it had been a long long time since he saw audiences glued to their seats until the very end.

But the claps I heard, genuine and heartfelt, few enough, maybe ten or fifteen people, are loud and musical to me. Good work Mohan and team. It has been years, can't recollect when, that people clapped at the end of a movie. In appreciation. Even once.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

An Interesting Story - The Sholay Story

While going through the apprehensions that any young team faces when they are attempting something new, something big and different, something based on their beliefs, I remembered an old book I read about the making of 'Sholay'. I distinctly remembered the apprehensions that the director and the team had when people walked quietly out of the halls, no whistles, claps. Then I searched online for stories on Sholay and found this wonderful link. Clearly every time you make something different you have to fight the audience, the critics and stick to your belief that you made something good. Follow the link for an incredible story but I will paste some excerpts from it which impressed me and should be read by anyone making an attempt to dream big and different.

.......‘Sholay’ flopped. The critics were harsh, the performance at the box-office was mixed, and the industry, waiting for the smallest hint to knock the mega project of the brash young director, was merciless. For the first time since Salim-Javed narrated the four-line idea two and half years ago, Ramesh panicked. The weeks leading up to the release had been a blur. Ramesh was bug-eyed from lack of sleep. The climax re-shot and re-mix had increased the birth pangs ten-fold. Prints and negatives were flying between Mumbai and London. There was no time to savour the finished product. Meanwhile the hype had assumed a life of its own. The trade could talk of little else. Every day there was a new rumour: the film was being offered an ‘Adults only’ certificate; the censor board wanted further cuts; the 70mm prints were not ready, so the Sippy’s postponing the release date… and on and on. 

A column in ‘Trade Guide’, the industry trade magazine, wrote: ‘Wherever we went, we heard nothing but ‘Sholay’… sometimes we also thought we would get allergic to it. Everyone wanted to see nothing but ‘Sholay.’ Many people in the industry preffered to discuss ‘Sholay’ to their own film.

Minerva, on Mumbai’s Lamington Road, had been selected as ‘Sholay’s main theatre. Minerva was known by its tag line: ‘The pride of Maharashtra.’ It was the only theatre at the time with a screen big enough for 70mm and six-track sound, and with 1500 seats it was also the largest cinema in the country. The theatre was dressed up like a bride for the release. Outside stood 30-foot cutouts of the star cast: Dharmendra, Amitabh, Sanjeev, Hema, Jaya and, of course, Amjad Khan. Inside were rows of photographs from the film, and garlands of flowers.

The premiere night was a glittering affair. On 14 August, two premieres were held simultaneously, one at Minerva and one at Excelsior. For the cast and crew, it felt like life had come full circle. It was pouring outside, just as it had been on the first day of the shoot, and Jaya was glowing again – this time pregnant with Abhishek. The industry’s top names, all spiffed up and shiny, walked into Minerva to see what the fuss was about. But there was a problem – the 70mm print hadn’t arrived yet. It was still stuck at the customs.
The 70mm saga was a plot worthy of Salim-Javed.....

....Through the screening; there was little reaction. The audience seemed unmoved. There was no laughter, no tears, no applause. Just silence. ‘It was very scary,’ recalls Geeta (Sippy). In the stalls sat Prakash Mehra, who had once been one of the contenders for the four-line story. ‘Maine yeh kahani kyun cchod di? he asked himself aloud. After the film, as the audience streamed out of the hall, Pancham, who had been sitting next to Mehra, whispered to him: ‘Log to gaaliyan de rahen hain.’ ‘Don’t worry,’ Prakash replied, ‘this film is a hit. No one can stop it.’

The morning-after-the premiere grapevine dripped poison. The film was dubbed ‘Chholey’, and the main cast, ‘Teen maharathi aur ek chooha (Three warriors and a mouse)’. Everything was wrong with the film. Why would women and family audiences want to see so much gore? The friendship was in such bad taste. Amjad had no presence, and no voice… ‘Hindustaniyon ko aisi picturein nahin achhi lagti hain (Indians don’t like films like this),’ pronounced a prominent industry figure. The critics agreed. Taking off on the title of the film, K.L Amladi writing in ‘India Today’ called it a ‘dead ember’. Thematically, its a gravely flawed attempt,’ he wrote. Filmfare’s Bikram Singh wrote: ‘The major trouble with the film is the unsuccessful transplantation it attempts- grafting a western on the Indian milieu. The film remains imitation western-neither here nor there.’ The trade magazines weren’t gushing either. ‘The classes and families will find no reason for a repeat show,’ said ‘Film Information.’
‘Trade Guide’ called it a milestone but qualified the praise with a negative comparison with ‘Deewar’ Now it was upto the audience. On 15 August 1975, ‘Sholay’ was released in the Bombay territory with forty prints.

Dispite the notorious Mumbai ki barish which was coming sown in torrents, the crowds turned up; in fact, many people had started queuing up outside the theatres the night before the advance booking had opened. The demand for the tickets was so high that in some theatres the managers just put the phone off the hook. Looking at the advance, trade pundits were predicting that the film would cross a business of eleven lakh rupees in its first week.
The buoyancy was balanced by the legions of cynics. After the premiere, the critics and indusrywalas had already given their verdict, and their had been more brickbats than bouquets. Even the black marketeers- those most knowledgeable of critics – were a little apprehensive about the film. Sure, it was the Midas touch of the Sippy’s and Salim-Javed, and yes, the film had an impressive starcast, but the story sounded strange: Sanjeev was playing a handicapped man and Jaya a silent widow, and there was some new villain who wasn’t in the mould of the suave smugglers of the day like Ajit and Pran.
The Sippy’s only hope was that the audience would prove them all wrong. There was no reaction. On Friday, 15 August, the first day of ‘Sholay’s release, Ramesh drove from one theatre to another to assess the reaction of the audience. As on the premiere night, there was only silence. Over the weekend, panic set in. The theatres were full but the reports were mixed. Pundits were now predicting disaster. No one told Ramesh that, but he could see it in their faces of all those he met. Every one wore that peculiar expression of pity and awkwardness. They met him like he was a man in mourning.
The Sippys moved into damage-control mode. On the weekend, a hurried meeting was convened at Amitabh’s house. G.P Sippy, Ramesh and Amitabh put their heads together to try and come up with solutions. Since there was no fear of piracy at the time, the release of the film in the major territories was being staggered. They could make substantial alterations before ‘Sholay’ hit the rest of the country. One suggestion was re-shooting the end again. Amitabh, post’Zanjeer’ and ‘Deewar’, was too big a star to die. Jai was just a petty thief, he hadn’t done anything to deserve death. Perhaps an ending in which the two couples walk into the sunset would salvage the film. Salim-Javed were vehement that the film shouldn’t be touched. Ramesh considered the suggestion for a new ending, but not for long. His head said he should do it but his heart wouldn’t allow it. He went with his heart A happy end would compromise his film even further. It was important that the audience leave the theatre with a feeling that something had been left unfinished. That slight ache in the heart was part of the film’s appeal. Not a frame would be touched. He would swim or sink with the film.
As the week wore on the anxiety of the crew turned into depression. On Monday morning, when the second week advance booking opened, there were modest queues outside Minerva and Excelsior where the 70mm prints were showing. At other theatres, hardly two or three people stood for tickets. In most of the suburban theatres, matinee shows had less than fifty per cent collections. For Ramesh, this was confirmation that all was lost. He was devastated. That evening he walked into Film Center, where more prints were being made, and told Anwar, ‘Printing band kar do. Abhi kuchh samajh main nahin aa raha hai (Stop the printing. I don’t understand what’s going on.)’ At home the unflappable demeanour cracked. It was the first time in his remarkable career that he was facing a flop. ‘I think I’ve failed,’ he told Geeta.

At the Sippy house the tension was palpable. G.P Sippy stood rock-steady and characteristically optimistic. He was sure that the film would turn around. But at the back of his mind sat unpleasant thoughts: The film had gone way over budget and creditors had to be paid back. They might never be able to make another film again. This was one gamble that could put them back years. There were even rumours that the Sippys were packing up and leaving the country. 
One week later, on 22 August 1975, ‘Sholay’ was released in Bangalore in six theatres. Suresh Malhotra, the distributer, organized a grand premiere. The entire main cast and crew flew in for the night. Suresh loved ‘Sholay’. When interviewed by ‘Film Information’ in July, he had predicted that the film would do a business of one crore. But it didn’t look like the business would bear his claim. Even before the first week was over, collections took a dip in Bangalore.
But the worst affected was Amjad. As negative feedback filtered in, Amjad became more and more silent. The normally effusive and volatile man retreated into a shell. His house was enveloped in gloom. An equally disheartened Asrani visited him in the first week. Asrani had been shooting at the nearby Mehboob Studio with Aruna Irani and she had suggested dropping in at Amjad’s. ‘Maine dam laga diya, ab nahi chali. kya kar sakte hain (I gave it all I had, but it hasn’t worked. There’s nothing to be done now),’ Amjad told them mournfully. ‘Lekin aapki taareef to bhut ho rahi hai (But theres great things being said about your performance),’ Asrani countered. Praise was little consolation. ‘What’s the use, yaar?’ Amjad replied, fighting back tears. ‘Salim-Javed have told Ramesh that my voice ruined the picture. Sorry folks, I’ve missed the bus.’
In all the sound and fury, Salim-Javed stood firm. ‘Nothing doing,’ they said to re-shooting proposals. ‘This film will run.’ It was the cockiness of youth and the confidence of a job well done. The following week, the two put an advertisement in the trade papers. The ad said, ‘Salim-Javed predict that ‘Sholay’ will be a grosser of rupees one crore in each major territory of India.’ The trade predicted that going by the response, the Sippys would be lucky if ‘Sholay’ managed forty lakh per territory.
Salim-Javed were wrong. As it turned out, one crore was a conservative estimate. Mid-week, a curious thing happened: there was little advance booking, but the theatre’s were full. The proprietor at Geeta cinema in Worli told Ramesh, ‘Don’t worry, your film is a hit.’ It was the first time Ramesh had heard the word used in connection with his film. ‘How can you say that?’ he asked. ‘Because the sales of my soft drinks and ice-creams are going down,’ the man replied. ‘By the interval the audience are so stunned that they are not coming out of the theatre.’.
Finally Ramesh understood why there was no reaction. People were overawed by what they were seeing. They needed time. Now, clearly ‘Sholay’ had found its audience. Word of mouth spread like a juicy rumour. The visuals were epic and the sound was a miracle; when Veeru threw the coin in the climax, people in the 70mm theatres dove under their seats to see where it had fallen. By the third week, audiences were repeating dialogues. It meant that at least some were coming in to see the film for a second time. Polydor noticed this and was quick to act. Record sales weren’t good and the music company was in a panic. Even though people came out of the theatres with smiles on their faces, they didn’t buy the music. The music men were bewildered. What was the problem here? Some key managers were dispatched to the theatres to see the film with the audience. They realized that the reaction to the dialogue was extraordinary. Obviously ‘Sholay’s visuals and dialogue were so overpowering that the music barely registered. If Polydor wanted to sell more records, it would have to give the audience what they remembered when they left the theatre: the dialogue. The strategy succeeded. Polydor couldn’t keep up with the demand as records flew off the shelves.
The tide had turned. ‘Sholay’ was beginning to prove all doomsayers wrong. As the film caught on, tickets became priceless. The lines at Minerva stretched a few kilometres, from the theatre to the nearby Tardeo bridge. The bus stop outside was renamed ‘Sholay’ stop’. The Minerva manager, Sushil Mehra, could barely keep up with the demand. He stayed at the booking window from 8 a.m to 8 p.m and finally just moved his family into a two-room apartment at the theatre; going home seemed pointless.
The Sippys stopped listening to the trade. As the collections mounted, it became obvious that they were looking at something big. In September, Ramesh left for London to take his much-deserved holiday. But every week the collections were given to him over the phone. Ten weeks after its release the film was declared a super hit, and on 11 October 1975 ‘Sholay’ already a blockbuster, was released in the territories of Delhi, U.P, Bengal, the Central Provinces and Hyderabad to a record-breaking box office.
Several months later, Asrani ran into Amjad. Both had been invited to inaugurate a studio in Gujarat. On the flight, Asrani laughed: ‘Haan ji, did you miss the bus?’ Amjad broke into a broad grin. The studio was about forty kilometres away from the airport. While driving there, Amjad’s son felt thirsty, and they stopped at a small roadside stall. It was a ramshackle place selling cold drinks, biscuits and cigarettes. There was no other building or even a hut to be seen for miles. As they entered the shop, a voice crackled on a rickety gramophone:
‘Kitne aadmi the?’
Gabbar Singh’s dialogue boomed through the shop. The stall owner served the group drinks but did not recognize the star. For a minute, Amjad stood absolutely still. His eyes squinted in recognition of his own voice. Then, listening to his voice playing in a shanty on a dusty, deserted road in the middle of nowhere, Amjad Khan sat down and cried.
1. Released on 15 Augast 1975.
2. Real Bullets were used for the close up action scenes.
3. Amitabh was almost killed at the end of the movie when a stray bullet from dharmendra missed him by inches.
4. First scene shot for the movie was Amitabh returning the keys to the safe to Jaya.
5. There are two sets of negatives, one in 70mm and one in 35mm as every shot/scene was done twice.
6. The last shot done in the village was Jai’s death scene.
7. Basanti’s chase sequence was shot over twelve days.
8. Jim Allen,Gerry Cramton,Romo Commoro,John Gant…some of the foreign technicians who worked on the action sequences.
9. The train sequence took seven weeks to shoot.
10. The last scene shot for Sholay was the Thakur meets Veeru and Jai outside the jail and offers them the job.
11. Sholay took nearly two and half years to complete (450 shifts)
12. Amjad’s voice was nearly dubbed as there were whispers it not being strong enough for a villain.
13. The background music took a whole month to complete.
14. Sholay’s Budget was close to three crores.
15. Jaya was pregnant during the shooting of the film with Shweta Bachchan.
16. Jaya was glowing again during the premiere of Sholay…this time with Abhishek Bachchan.
17. Sholay’s premiere audience saw a 35mm print as the 70mm one was stuck at customs.
18. Sholay was released in Bombay with 40 prints.
19. Saachin was a veteran film actor with 60 films behind him from 1962…. but A.K Hangal was a newcomer to films.
20. Amjad’s first scene shot was his introduction scene …..his first lines “Kitne Aadmi The”?......


Every success story has its own story behind it. Brilliant stuff! I can't imagine how these guys went back to work after this. 

Love, My Friend, Is Not Easy - Book Launch

I attended the book launch of 'Love, My Friend, In Not Easy' (150 pages, Rs. 145) written by my friend Geeta Vasu last evening. It was a well attended, well covered event at Landmark, Banjara Hills. The Chief Guest was the well knwon film director Shekhar Kammula and the guest speaker was the well known author Krishna Sagar (author of Summit Your Everest). A biggish crowd of about sixty to seventy people, press, friends, family landed up and the event kicked off on time. Krishna Sagar mentioned that writing the book was itself an achievement and wished it well and hoped that it might be made into a movie, while Shekhar, the person who actually makes wonderful movies, said that he though he does not read many novels, he liked the structure, the characters and that it certainly had all the ingredients to make a movie from.

I had read the book in manuscript form when the multi faceted and highly talented Geeta (architect, painter, dancer, poet, corporate honcho to name a few)had asked me to take a look at it and found it interesting. Geeta's biggest strength is her fresh, youthful voice - she sounds like a teenager on paper and she sustains a rare energy. Of course she draws a fine plot, has clear and well etched characters and the story moves around the three central characters Aditi, Rohan and Dhruva in ways that are certainly different  from your normal romantic plots. I did like the end especially which is an unusual end. It is a good, mature and intelligent read and a wonderful debut novel. I do wish Geeta many more novels and creative forays. I am also glad that Indialog Publications, one of the few publishers in India who encourages new talent chose to publish Geeta, without any hesitation after they went through the proposal.

The book is available at Landmark Bookstore certainly for now or you can pick it up online at the Indialog site

Golconda High School Enters Its Second Week

After holding its own in the Sankranthi frenzy with a slew of big movies, GHS has moved on steadily to the second week. The collections are good and steady, the 'talk' is good and all who have watched it have liked it immensely. Theatres have increased which is a good sign (Goo GHS) and most importantly for me, the movie has come to play in Satyam theatre in Ameerpet which is a theatre that we have watched many movies ever since the time that we were children. Satyam now has grown into a huge theatre that is known to play only successful films.

We peeked in at the morning show, Mohan, Sagar and I, and found the crowd enjoying the cricket match. I got drawn into the match again, enjoyed the last thirty minutes, watched the crowd trying to predict the final over and fall flat each time, heard the roars and whistles at the dialogues and saw the early risers hang on and watch the movie until the titles rolled on screen from the doors. Highly satisfying.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Me and the GHS Team - A Treasured Picture

Me and the Golconda High School Champions

This is one of the few pics I have with the GHS team, taken on one of the last days of the shoot - maybe the last. The one who is missing is Pradeep who plays the role of Shameem, who has a penchant for going missing at the right moment.

In the picture are (sitting) Bharat (Kaleem), Suraj (Vikas), Vasudev (Ramesh) and (standing) Sriraj (Nissar), Srinivas Sai (Siddhanth), me, Lalith (Rajinder), Nikhil (Karthik), Sudhir (Sanjay), Santosh (Gautham), Bobee (Ashish), Farooq (Mikey) and Sangeet (Varun).

Champions all. Mark my words. There is no doubt about it after I saw their performances. Goooo GHS!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Golconda High School - Another Show Today

Watched GHS with my MBA friends Shravan, Ramesh, Bharadwaj and Srinivas Babu at Prasad's again today. Joined by Raghavaiah, Padma and Srinivas. And Farooq and Sriraj for company. It was great fun as usual as we all caught up after a long while and enjoyed the movie.

But this morning I went to Chandrakala, Kukatpally for a screening for Don Bosco school students and man, what a riot. the kids blew the roof down. That is the way to watch this movie, not in staid old multiplexes with people who are too scared to even applaud, forget whistling. The kids yelled, roared, screamed, whistled and drove up the energy of the movie so many notches that it was a totally different experience. Tomorrow onwards I am going to the single screen theatres to watch the movie.

Oh, Sumanth got mobbed by the school kids and had to be herded to the safety of his car. And I actually saw one girl walk up to Siddhanth (who later confessed that he gave 50 autographs) and take an autograph on her wrist. They almost tore him apart after the movie. 'Super movie sir', 'Never got bored sir', 'Every bit was nice sir,' 'Really nice sir', 'Completely enjoyed sir' and 'Guarantee 150 days sir' were the comments from the children. Good for you kids. This is for people like you who wear their heart on their sleeve, who can express easily, who have big dreams in their eyes.

Gooo GHS!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Men Within versus Chak De

For all those who are wondering about what came first - 'The Men Within' or 'Chak De' - here are the facts. 'The Men Within' was released on February 28, 2007 while 'Chak De' released on August 10, 2007. Clearly 'The Men Within' came about seven months before 'Chak De' did. Of course several people who read the novel felt that the plot of 'Chak De' was copied from the novel and some got agitated as well. Prominent among them was the late Rajan Bala who thought I should do something about it. But I have always said that this is a typical sports drama plot - underdog team, coach with past who needs redemption, bigger cause, preparation, implementation. Even time lines in most sports dramas are similar - say for people with some skill and preparation - a three month period will be perfectly fine to get things in place. A three month time line is acceptable in any game - be it hockey, cricket or most others to get desired results. Beyond that one can only get a team which is either made of kindergarten kids, school kids, college kids, adults or national teams. You choose.

But what makes each movie different is this - how originally has the team or coach approached the process to the goal. How have they created a goal, how did they train, what were their strategies, how did they use their resources, what were their guiding philosophies, how did they evolve, where did they get their strength from, how did they push over the line. That, if entertainingly shown, is what makes one sports drama different from another in my opinion.

Far as Chak de and The Men Within are concerned, the coaches are similar in background and passion but the process is different. While Kabir Khan, intense, straightforward, committed and full of integrity (all good coaches need this) allows the players to come to a level, he restricts them a bit by not allowing them to grow beyond themselves. Which is what Sampath does - he lets the kids own the dream, plan and prepare on their own while he guides them. It is evident in the last scene when Kabir Khan's captain looks at him for help and he guides her on where to move and she does. What if she had not looked at him? Sampath's boys have prepared on their own and know that whatever happens is because of their own efforts so there is really no need for them to look at him. To let go so fully is the greatest risk. But only the greatest risks get the biggest rewards. And only those who are the most secure can allow their wards that much of trust and freedom!

Golconda High School - My View

So the movie is finally out and I got to see it. My first reaction when I saw the movie at the Vizag premiere was similar to what I experienced when I saw 'Ashta Chamma' - I was lost for words. The movie kept playing in my head, bothering me, asking questions of me. The next morning was when I think it actually settled down into me and I got comfortable with it. It was also then that I realised that Mohana Krishna Indraganti makes movies that do not really fit into the pattern of movies  that you are used to. His movies are different, his presentation is different. He believes in making meaningful cinema that entertains - a difficult responsibility to take in a world that is used to shortcuts. In an industry that is too scared to take the slightest risk (despite the BO record that shows that it is risky to continue in their formulaic path), in a creative space that is too lazy to think of something intelligent, original and meaningful. Now the industry is again used to use existing formulas, sequences, ideas without any remorse or responsibility under the guise of commercialism. Naturally a Mohana Krishna movie will disturb, will leave you with little to hold on to just as Govind Nihalani did, a Raykesh Mehra did, a Christopher Nolan did. They get into your mind in some way and stay there, disturb existing patterns, open up new thoughts, new vistas.

This is a film with balls. It is about never giving up. The aggression in the film is evident in the performers eyes, the music, the story. An aggression that says whatever happens 'Get Up' again. So Mikey gets up for his team and his school, Sid comes out to bat with a damaged hand for his team and  his school, Gautam holds all his nerve together for the same cause, Sampath, Vishwanath Sharma, Anjali, Jani Miya and everyone in the team does the same - get together to fight something bigger, something that will consume a philosophy if they did not stand up then. This is what aggression is to me and the speech that Sampath gives in the dressing room, one of the finest I have heard in a sports drama, really epitomises what aggression is. I am reminded of Javagal Srinath, India's bowling spearhead for many years, who said something to this effect - "To me aggression is not running up to the batsman and glaring at him or swearing at him. Aggression to me is winning the battle." And Srinath always had the best batsmen hopping in the crease even though he never looked them in the eye. The great West Indian quartet never sledged either - but they did bowl at speeds that made Rodney Marsh, the Aussie wicket keeper, wake up at night in fear.

GHS to me is a movie that drips with such stuff, all of which destroy your conventional idea of movies where aggression, romance, titillation are presented differently. It would be a classical mistake to try and fit it into a pattern you know, because it does not. To jump up and say hey this is Chak De or Lagaan would be really lazy writing or reviewing because all that is similar between this movie and them and any other sports drama films is the structure. An underdog team, a coach who has a past, a comeback against odds and a final heave to either victory or a loss, but one with redemption and growth and the display of character (which is why well made sports drama beats everything else). This structure is as common as having two people falling in love in a love story. What is important is what the director does with the two people is important in a love story, just as how the coach makes the boys win is important and that is where this movie is different from any other sports movie I have seen.

How does one make anyone believe in a cause? By making it their own. So the first thing that is different about the process of winning is that Sampath, against all logic, delivers the dream to the boys and says - this is your dream. (Which means no credit for me.) And once it is yours, be it a book, a house, a school, a nation, you will fight tooth and nail for it. Now most sports drama focuses on hard work, discipline, team work, leadership etc which is an essential part of winning but to me what again makes the GHS campaign different from normal adrenalin driven sports is that it is a cold blooded, planned campaign. 'You must practice with a view to improve, not just practice mindlessly' says Sampath - what one can do with anything in life to get results. 'You must work hard, not merely pray. You must go beyond other people's expectations and mostly you must believe in yourself,' is something that anyone can use in their life, be it a project or a match. 'What happens in a team stays in a team,' is another wonderful line that epitomises the spirit of team spirit, of sticking together. So Sampath steps back, urges the boys to dream, hands them the dream and merely guides them as they touch a higher frequency in their quest to better themselves. And that is what gives them the depth of character, to always get up, to become men in the face of the biggest adversities. 'No one can beat them,' says Sampath at the end of the movie. 'Never.' And that I think is what education should be about - the building of character. The process of the boys owning their dream, the transfer of the dream, the space given to the boys to grow are all important and delicate parts in the movie that are extremely well handled.

Any coach or teacher has this challenge. Of how much to let go and when. It is easy to say that the student is not ready and keep on controlling them which is what many ordinary teachers do. But the true and secure teacher who is interested in the growth and welfare of the student, knows that the student is capable of much more if they are trusted and believed in, if they are nurtured.  To believe in them when it is easy to hold on to control is a sign of a man who is immensely secure, who is more interested in the students, who can achieve miracles with his team. And by letting go of control, Sampath holds everything together. The paradox of life - just as one cannot clutch at water to hold it, let it lie in your palm and it stays there. Mohan brought this out extremely well, Sumanth to me epitomised the coach who has only his students best interests in mind, the kids showed that they believed in all they did, Swati played the ideal support to Sumanth which is important in this context because a man who has taken such a big gamble needs a sounding board surely.

But before that what are good movies about? Movies are about entertainment. That is number one criteria for a good movie. Now within this context you can make entertaining movies that are either meaningful or not meaningful. In the above two categories, making entertaining and meaningful cinema to me scores much higher than the other simple because it needs a lot more intelligence and a sense of responsibility to society that are tied along with the 'commercial aspects' of entertainment. Now to me 'commercial aspects' mean engrossing entertainment for the movie length - not merely fights, blood, gore, sex, item songs etc. You can entertain the audience at the level or you could choose to address the audience's intelligence instead of all that is below the waist.

Now, the verdict. Has Mohana Krishna made an entertaining film. Yes, undoubtedly. Has he made a meaningful cinema? Yes. Has he shown the development of character well? Yes. Has he shown cricket well, the toughest game to pass muster in our country, convincingly and credibly? Yes. Has he highlighted an important issue and the development of character? Yes. Has he brought out performances in all? Yes. Does the screenplay bore you anytime? No. Has he brought out the best in his technicians? Yes. Is this a movie that movie goers would like their families and their children to see to learn hat character building is about? Yes. Has he taken on many daunting firsts for the Telugu audience -a full fledged cricket drama, an full fledged adaptation of a English novel? Yes. What else? Good enough for me. How many movies can lay claim to this? Not many. So take a bow Mohan along with your entire team. It's been as rediff says, a brilliant job. A 4.25/5 from me. And 0.25 for the sheer effort of handling the subject well, the boys and the entire plot.

For all those who are obsessed with comparisons with Chak De and Lagaan and other sports films, I would urge them to view this movie with a different lens. Now don't worry about the structure, about the clothes, about similarities because they are inherent to this genre. Now look for what is deeper, what is not similar. This genre itself. Look for what he has made for Telugu cinema. You will enjoy the movie ten times more.

Will only commercial cinema make money? Of course, this is a commercial venture and it will make money. And it will make far more money than some that pass of as 'commercial cinema' by degrading humans, women, values in the name of fun, romance, comedy. Because deep down I believe, audiences are far more intelligent than they are given credit for. Like they say, they know what they want.

Sometimes I wonder what a movie like this would have done to me when I was a youngster. We grew up starved of inspirational movies. So the western movies, be it war movies or Bruce Lee or the Rocky series, gave us a glimpse into what it is about pursuing your passions, your dreams. I can only think of the kid in the theatre who watches the movie and says - hey, if they can dream, maybe I can. If they can plan, maybe I can. If they never give up and cross the line, maybe I can too. That, I am sure, is what many viewers will say they experienced. And Mohana Krishna Indraganti and your team, that, is a huge achievement!

In my opinion, no one has made a film like Golconda High School in Telugu cinema yet.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Golconda High School - A Must Watch

And this is one from Pavan, a sportsman, a  marketing professional, a man with diverse interests and a creative mind. One with clear opinions as well. Here's the link to his blog and below that the content of the blog itself:
It is always been a obvious fact that sensible and intelligent cinema is almost rare in Tollywood. With producers, directors churning tons of no-brainers, over-hyped action crappers where heroes are shown as super humans and routine love stories. I have been disappointed to watch such crap for a long time. But things changed a bit in the recent years, for some young directors, passionate actors started trying to do something different out of the formulaic sense.

Movies like ‘Gamyam’, ‘ Aa Naluguru’, ‘Vedam’ are some of the few. These movies won laurels both from masses and critics too. Last week I happened to watch one such good movie the new release of 2011 ‘Golconda High School’ – a cricket-centric movie based on a best seller ‘The Men Within’.
After watching the movie, I felt that I have watched a very simple yet very powerful movie. As a matter of fact, I have read the book couple of months before and I liked it. The narration, the potrayal of characters everything, the profound message the book carries. I have had always a doubt whether the movie can carry the same message.

My assumptions/doubts got shattered for a very good reason, as I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. A movie made at a very optimal budget, not-so-big stars on the list, yet the director carried the show so flawlessly that this movie turned a movie for everyone.
The movie in a nutshell is about a school cricket team who hasn’t won a single tournament in ages, how they come back with greatest team spirit, focusing on their strengths with the greatest mentoring from their cricket coach and win their moments of life and save their school play ground from getting converting into a coaching center.
Pretty inspring!!

The hero of the movie, the coach, Sumanth ( who is currently going through a bad career phase) can mark his character in this movie as the best till date. All of the other actors in the movie, including the child actors perfectly contributed to the movie and yeah team work reflected very well.
I strongly recommend all of the cricket lovers, who love to watch an engaging and nail baiting match moments ( there are plenty in this movie) and especially to all the movie lovers who are getting disappointed with watching bad, worse and worst movies in the recent times. This movie is surely like a relief. :)
All in all, a very refreshing movie with a profound message in it. Must watch.
Also, Please try to read that book (The Men Within) if you love books too..

And Reviews From Some Bloggers

Here are links to some bloggers I know who have blogged about the Golconda High School movie.

Dr. R. Nargundkar,

Mr. Vinod Ekbote,

Dr. Ranjani

Good stuff. Thanks all for watching and for reviewing.

Golconda High School - The Reviews

The reviews are out. All good. Here is a link to a good review from rediff.

Another one from one india:

More later.

Third Day In A Row - Liking It Even More

And for the third day in three days I have managed to see 'Golconda High School' with another bunch of friends. Vidyuth, Timothy, Kumar, Shobha, Anu, Anita, VK and I watched the movie. And guess what - it gets better and better each time. Mohana Krishna, if you are seeing this, I think it is your gift, that you make the movie get better and better as we watch it. And this is where this scores over Lagaan for me - I can watch the next show again. It is intense, but not as sappingly intense as Lagaan which drains me for days and weeks. Well done Mohan.

Now, to find out who will accompany me today. An honest confession. Loving watching this movie immensely.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Second Day - Day Out With The Champions

If yesterday was spent watching the first show of 'Golconda High School' with family today was even more brilliant. I invited a bunch of cricketing friends from my school days, my coach and my teacher to view the movie at Prasad's at the 815 p.m. show and they all came down. And to make things even better, the young stars of GHS also joined me in the viewing the movie. Oh, the kids brought the place down as they reveled in the sheer joy at watching the movie together for the first time since it got released. For me it was immensely satisfying to sit with my old mates and watch the movie and listen to them poke fun at one another and try to identify some character or other with the one on screen.

Mr. Rehmat Baig, my coach at All Saints High School in 1982, even then a  BCCI Coach fro South Zone and today, to my mind the finest technical expert in matters cricket in India, was gracious enough to come. Nay, highly enthusiastic. He was the cricket consultant for the movie and had coached the kids. More than anything his passion and love for the game is something I cannot describe. When he said, 'Well done, Hari. The movie has come out very well,' my heart swelled.

Bro. Joesph of Montfort Institutions, the face of cricket across all Montfort schools, known as the 'cricket brother' someone who has spent his life advocating exactly what the Principal of GHS Vishwanath Sharma says - games are important. He has single handedly prepared cricket grounds, made teams, coached teams and made better people of so many of us. And the gratitude to him was evident in everyone's voice when I told them that Bro Joesph was coming as well. 'Wow, is he coming as well?' Bro. Joseph was one of the first to arrive and the last to leave from the venue.

CV Anand had seen the movie the day before with his family and chose to come again with us today because he said he really liked the movie. That was wonderful. Not only that, he suggested that we all come early so we could catch up and chat. So Anil Kak, fast bowler and Project Manager at PES Engineers and I went together the theatre first followed closely by Clement, opening batsman and Owner of one of the biggest publishing houses in Botswana, Bro. Joseph, an excellent all rounder and top man of Montfort Asia and Africa. Then came Vijay Kumar, wicket keeper batsman and Ranji probable, MBA and Superintendent, Central Excise, Narender Pal Singh, 300 Ranji wickets as a fast bowler in his hey day and now Ranji Selector, Chetan Joshi one of my first pals on the cricket circuit, the original left arm spinner from Hyderabad until Venkatpathy took over and an employee of Indian Railways today. Of course the stylish and irrepressible Gajanand Reddy, left arm fast bowler, now avid golfer and fitness coach for the Hyderabad Ranji team came with them. C.V.Anand, stylish all rounder and now IG of Police in Traffic, Hyderabad joined us soon looking dapper and nice. Mohsin, batsman who played for Hyderabad at the Under 25 level and businessman came accompanied by Baig saab our coach. Mahesh Raje, leg spinning all rounder and now leading lawyer joined us soon. Last came Iftekhar, my first pal in the All Saints team, the amicable off spinner and incredibly likeable younger brother of Azharuddin and we piled into the theatre. Balig and Ehtesham could not make it just as Venkatpathy, Noel, Yuvraj, Sanjay, Pavan and Suri could not.     

On the other hand Bobee (Ashish of GHS) called me and wanted to see the move so I asked  him to fix up with any of his other friends who wanted to see the movie since I had some extra tickets. Soon the numbers swelled as Vasudev (Ramesh of GHS), his older brother Mahadev, Sriraj (Nissar of GHS), Suraj (Vikas of GHS), his brother (Aditya of GHS), Bobee, Santosh (Gautam of GHS), Farooq (Mikey of GHS), Srinivas Sai (Siddhanth of GHS), (Sanjay of GHS) came to the theatre. Sometime later they were joined by Sangeeth (Varun of GHS) and Lalith (Rajinder of GHS) making it an almost full XI. We really missed having Pradeep (Shameem of GHS), Bharath (Kaleem of GHS) and Rohit (Noel of GHS) with us. And since it was the first time they were wathcing the movie together they brought the house down whenever anyone of us appeared on the screen. I was happy being with them, near them, enjoying their comments and their energy.

Elsewhere in the theatre I was happy that my friends from the Osmania University Engineering College, A.P. Srinivas and his family, Anjaneyulu and his family, Ramana Murthy and his family, Suresh of Ybrant Digital, and several of their freinds numbering 30 in all were watching the movie. AP was the architect of the gathering and it was he that I met firstAnjan as he always does, gave me a warm hug, and wished me and Ram well and said that he got reports that it was doing well. Anjan had always been highly supportive and encouraging of the books I have written and I was really glad to see him there with his wife Aparna and kids Pinak and Pradyumn. I met Anil and Sujatha my young friends from OU Engineering College and Sushmita and her lovely children. At the food court I met Meenakshi from CoD and her friend Pallavi who had also come to see the movie, Sravanthi and her husband, Ramesh's father and mother, Lalith's father and mother, so all in all it was great fun bumping into so many people we knew.

Mostly however it was great fun seeing my old cricket mates and hearing their regular nonsense. It was almost as if time had stopped for all of us and despite the bulk, the grey hair, everyone seemed to slip back some twenty five years. I was really moved when every single one of them genuinely said they liked the moive, the narration, the message, the performances, the songs and they all said that in great detail. We met the young stars of the movie on the way out, clicked some pics together before the kids went off. Clement then wanted us all to have dinner together and we sat and ate dinner at the foodcourt until the lights were shut off. Once outside we again hung out together for a while before we split sometime after 12. 'So no one wants to leave first huh,' said CV and that echoed the general sentiment.

Go GHS! I was glad that my friends came out and watched the movie and liked it. CV said 'This movie will pick up as word of mouth spreads. I will recommend it to all.' So thanks guys, all you people who liked the movie, go recommend it to your friends and family.We need all the support from you, now.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

First Day First Show - Golconda High School at Prasad's

And so the first day first show at Prasad's joined by about 40 of my family and friends and so many others including Srini Avasarala, Sagar, Swati went off nicely. The audience enjoyed the movie and were genuine in their appreciation of the movie's content and honesty. Three cheers to Mohan and the team for that. I heard claps at the end of the movie which is a huge thing in itself.

But listen to me when I say this - this is not a movie that you can comment on or review instantly. I think this is a movie that needs some time to settle down inside you, find its place, and only then can anyone make their best judgment on it. It will grow on you. It will remain with you and asks questions of you.


And the D Day! Gooooooo GHS!!! You're going to rock. Thanks everyone for your blessings, your support and good wishes. Watch the movie.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Golconda High School - Releasing Tomorrow

After almost a year, Golconda High School is now ready for release. In true GHS spirit it did not shy away from competing with the biggies - Paramveer Chakra, Mirapakai and Anaganaga oka Dheerudu which released serially this Sankranthi on 12, 13 and 14, January so far. The reviews have been rather pale so far which has nothing to add or take away from GHS. It is the same situation in the story as well - a complete underdog daring to slug it out with the biggies. But not by mere passion - it is guided by good planning, making a good product, believing in itself, giving its 100%. Well all the ingredients are there and I shall elucidate further on this later. But for now, suffice to know that GHS was always a film that believed in itself, that was never short of self belief. The story of the making of GHS itself is a story worth listening to.

Anyway, after getting together a product that was to their satisfaction - the makers of GHS then decided to launch it at Sankranthi at the end of December. Which means that in the span of 12 days the team, ably lead by the indefatigable, wily and alert to opportunity Prasad, put together a publicity campaign and announced the release of the movie, launched the audio and did two premieres at Vizag and Vijayawada. The buzz built around this unconventional story, this small production house, this cricket based, English novel based story. Snatches of the music heard here and there showed great promise (Kalyani Malik excelling himself), the camera work displayed the presence of a master behind that work (Senthil) and the publicity overall did evoke an element of curiosity in the public.

The hoarding at KBR

For me the first time it all hit me really was when I saw the huge poster on the KBR Road of Golconda High School with Sumanth looking on intensely, the 14 kids looking on as if they were being held back and Swati striding purposefully towards a goal. That poster (much credit for that goes for Koni who handled that issue well). But when it saw it that night, it sunk into me. The scale, the project, what was happening.

I was fortunate to attend the two premieres at Vizag and Vijayawada. I will not disclose anything now save for the fact that I enjoyed both shows immensely and liked the movie even better the second time. It happened the same way with Ashta Chamma which got better and better each of the eight times I watched it. I kept marvelling at Mohan's ingenuity as I watched that movie and the same thing happened this time again with GHS. Mohana Krishna Indraganti's biggest strength is that he takes the intelligence of the audience for granted and that is how he gets rewarded. No where does he pander, does he step down, and that pace itself keeps the audience thinking, trying to outguess the director who subtly leaves them feeling stirred. The movie did not leave me for long, it forced me to think, to find out what it was that was bothering me. It did get into a space that I did not know existed - I thought I'd seen everything.

Anyway that's for the viewers to decide which they will in the next few days. But if I were to hazard a guess with my rather simplistic analysis of success - the GHS team has done everything they could to put together a movie that entertains, that probes and intellectually stimulates and prods some action. And when things are done right, with the right intention, the right intensity and the right purpose, they normally go right. Which is what the school kids in 'The Men Within' discover. The path is not easy, but good, honest efforts are always appreciated and more often than not are rewarded. To quote Sampath from the book: 'People do not necessarily appreciate achievements, they appreciate good honest hard efforts.'

And a good, honest, hard effort it is this GHS. Now for tomorrow, the final that we prepared for - first day first show at Prasad's.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An Interview on Telugu

A first for me. An interview on
Here is the link.

A word about this interview. Sri Atluri, the owner of the site, read the book, mailed me and then called me before this interview happened. Check out the audio review for the GHS music on the same site. It is very well written.
Thanks Sri. Really appreciate the good work.

Golconda High School - People Who Made It Possible From Behind The Scenes

Some of the people I remember who made the making of Golconda High School memorable are mentioned here. I have interacted with most, and have tried to capture as many as I could. I must begin with the production boys - Sreenu or Attapur as they call him - who served us tirelessly through the blazing 45 degree summer, keeping us hydrated, giving us food at appropriate times. Amazing work by them as they never missed a single cue.
Senthil and his camera team

The camera crew of Senthil's whose names I cannot remember save for Ravi, Ram Reddy, Vali, Shiva and others, a silent and efficient crew how epitomised efficiency and professionalism. The directorial team of assistant directors, talented bunch all of them, ASN, Venkat, Hari, Ramesh, Mallik, Avinash and there were others I cannot remember now. Thankfully Ramesh, who is an excellent cricketer himself and an engineer to boot, could handle much of the cricket stuff as things heated up.
A D, Ramesh, Stills Photographer and A D, Mallik

The set guys, I forget their names, working tirelessly again to provide the right material as cricket was shot. I remember meeting an interesting set boy, the junior most I think, an uneducated boy who was the son of daily workers, who told me that he wrote lyrics. He reeled off at least four or five songs to which he had written the lyrics to and composed them as well. He had written 300 songs by then, had written some stories as well and told me he could write for both mass and class movies and gave me examples. All this in ten minutes. I hope he gets that break he was looking for, and that he makes it big someday, sooner than later. The junior artistes and their coordinators, Subhani, I think was one. It was crazy handling that bunch of kids who drove everyone up the wall.
Co Director Suresh

Veera, Choudhury and Sreenu babu and their team who treated the whole show as if it were their own. Ramesh who started off the movie as the Executive Director and Prasad who stepped in and handled it until the end. The co director Suresh, an experienced hand who they say, has a legendary memory of scenes and shots and stuff like that. With his booming voice, imposing presence and an endless number of anecdotes, he made a huge difference to the completion of the movie.
Sagar braving the sun despite fever

And one cannot forget the contribution of one person who was there everyday of the shoot, almost every moment which few can claim to have. Sagar Rachakonda, the sensitive, fun and deeply loyal friend of director Mohana Krishna Indraganti, who was there everyday - doing things, adding value, always being there at the centre of the action. From being Mohan's sounding board to keeping his script, counselling the kids, giving value added suggestions, even rushing off to control the crowd sometimes, Sagar was like the bond that held the team together. He was an instant favourite with anyone who came into contact with him, getting along as easily with the production boys as he did with Baig saab or the stars, Sagar used his phenomenal people skills to keep the general atmosphere calm and fun. Someone who has an eclectic taste in music and movies, a good understanding of cricket being a good cricketer himself, a helping nature, an outrageous sense of humour (listening to him and Mohan take off on movies, people or stuff is hilarious), Sagar, thankfully played the umpire's role in the movie thus making him an integral part of it. A designer of exquisite artistic taste, Sagar created the new cover of 'If You Love Someone..' my second novel, which should hopefully come out with its second edition soon. He has a huge collection of 'muggus' with which he has made greeting cards and they are fantastic. A fun guy who is too good not to get his due soon.

And so many more I am sure. Let me think and add up some more as I go along.