Less known Facts Behind The Making Of Mahesh Babu Blockbuster Okkadu
Director Gunasekhar is having Tea at Charminar. Whenever he travels from madras to hyderabad for work, he definitely visits Charminar, looks at the beauty of the monument, enjoys its climate with every sip of tea.
He decided to direct a film near charminar while he was an assistant director and kept reminding himself for 100’s of times.
Taking plot of his fvt. and popular hollywood musical film ‘Westside Story’, two young gangs competing each other in charminar streets featuring the nativity of the old hyderabad has become the strong backdrop for Gunasekhar’s story.
After few years, Gunasekhar was full busy with the re-recording sessions of ‘Choodalani Undi’ . He started explaining his busy schedule as the reason for not attending Aswini Dutt. Ch’s new film opening. In their conversation about the same, Guna asked about Mahesh Babu curiously and Dutt responded excitedly that he does look like a prince really.
While Dutt started showing the photoshoot stills of Mahesh Babu to Guna, glimpses of Mahesh taking the smoke on top of charminar in moonlight flashed in his mind.
The coming week, mahesh visited Vyjayanthi Movies office and started chitchating with Gunasekhar there. He narrated the line of his story with Charminar backdrop and mahesh agreed to do it with thrill after listening it.
Post ‘Mrugaraju’ flop, Gunasekhar started developing the story with Charminar backdrop. Reading an interview of Badminton Player Pullela Gopichand, he got inspred by the true story of Gopichand becoming the champion with lot of hardship despite the disapproval of his father. He took this for developing the character of his lead actor and kept on writing the script in novel style.
Listening to the story, Ramoji Rao suggested to construct the Charminar set in Ramoji Film City irrespective of the expenditure. His dream seemed to come true but then M.S. Reddy came into the line as producer but still the movie didn’t took off.
Mahesh proposed M.S. Raju’s name to Gunasekhar and he cameby for the meeting at Padmalaya Studios. Explaining the details of the project, mahesh said that he wishes to do this project in M.S. Raju’s production itself but on one condition. Due to the situations on and around Charminar, we should unveil a lookalike set of Charminar for this story.
M.S. Raju said that he would definitely unveil the set if he likes ths script and as soon as Gunasekhar narrated the script, he liked it and the paper announcement of their combination cameup the next day.
Bhoomika looked cute in ‘Yuvakudu’ and Gunaskehar liked that freshness and roped in to play the female lead with Mahesh. Sekhar.V.Joseph is the DOP, Manisharma for Music, Paruchuri Brothers will write the dialogues, Art by Ashok. ‘Athade Ame Sainyam’ has been the title in Gunasekhar’s mind from the beginning but someone else has registered the title. On considering various titles like ‘Kabaddi’ and others, they came up with ‘Okkadu’ and no one objected that.
Daggubati Ramanaidu garu’s 10 acre land in Gopannapalle, hyderabad outskirts seemed right to construct the set of Charminar. Real charminar height was 176 feet and the 4 minars height was 78 feet. The shot Guna imagined needs only the 4 minars but not from top to bottom.
Decreasing the height below, 300 workers constructed 120 feet charminar set and 5 acres old city setup in 3 months with a budget of 1 crore 70 lakhs. Roads and few lanes were considered to be made on graphics.
While the huge set is being constructed, comments on director and proudcer referring to their flops ‘Mrugaraju’ and ‘Devi Puthrudu’ floated. Everyone acted concern on mahesh for making a film in their combo. They heard everything but turned into a positive boosting energy rather than turning it into anger.
Shooting began with Charminar set schedule that will cover half kilometer radius with 15 generators, strada crane. The toughest shoot commenced with immense hardwork amidst december chills and the climax shoot with 1000 Jr. Artists was shot for 11 days.
Mahesh took 2 days training and worked out like a real kabaddi player for this film which he never played till the time. He took the ankle, knee and feet sprain and pain for this movie.
Huge ventures aren’t new to M.S. Raju but this project is different. There shouldn’t be any confusion or alter in the execution, he was stubborn in his belief and so invested in the film uncomprimisingly. He took a great stand behind Gunasekhar by making the film with 13-14 Crores back in those times itself.
First copy is ready, M.S. Raju, Gunasekhar, Paruchuri Brother and others watched the rush. The Rush Kings Paruchuri Brothers suggested the screenplay that’s in flashback mode must be changed to the straight narration. Editor Sreekar Prasad changed it to straight narration in 10 minutes making everyone happy with the output.
M.S. Raju, Gunasekhar, Mahesh Babu, Superstar Krishna were watching the film at Sudarshan 35 MM theatre, RTC X Roads, Hyderabad on January 15th, 2003. By interval, the result of it was confirmed. Gunaskehar handling was splendid, M.S. Raju making was marvellous and there it is the first Blockbuster in Mahesh’s career.
Amidst the drought in AP & Worldcup fever for India being in finals, ‘Okkadu’ created phenomenal records.
Vijay remade this in Tamil & Puneeth Rajkumar in Kannada.
Producer Atluri Poornachandar Rao thought to launch mahesh in hindi with this film but Mahesh didn’t like the proposal. He then thought to remake it starring Abhishek Bachchan and Amitabh Bachchan but after yeras Boney Kapoor made it as ‘Tevar’ starring his son Arjun Kapoor.
– PULAGAM CHINNARAYANA