|Directed by||Kodi Ramakrishna|
|Produced by||Shyam Prasad Reddy|
|Written by||Mallemala Unit|
Chintapalli Ramana (Dialogues)
|Cinematography||K. K. Senthil Kumar|
|Edited by||Marthand K. Venkatesh|
|Box office||est. ₹70 crore|
Arundhati is a 2009 Indian Telugu-language fantasy drama-horror film directed by Kodi Ramakrishna, and produced by Shyam Prasad Reddy under his banner Mallemala Entertainments. The film stars Anushka Shetty in the titular role with Sonu Sood, Arjan Bajwa, Sayaji Shinde, Manorama, and Kaikala Satyanarayana. The music is composed by Koti with cinematography by K. K. Senthil Kumar and editing by Marthand K. Venkatesh.
Released on 16 January 2009, the film was a major commercial success and went onto become one of the highest-grossing Telugu film of the year. The film received several accolades, including 10 Nandi Awards, and two Filmfare Awards South. The film is remade in Bengali with the same name in 2014.
Arundhati is a beautiful princess, and the great-great-granddaughter of the Raja of Gadwal, the head of a princely state. Arrangements are being made for her grandiose wedding. The sweet Arundhati is the first female to be born since her great-grandmother, hence loved and revered by her family. She visits Gadwal to meet her grandfather. Her grandfather, the head of the family, talks to her with respect as if she were older than him. That night, Arundhati receives a misleading phone call in her fiancé Rahul's voice asking her to come to the fort of Gadwal, where she faces a horrible revelation. Learning the story from an aged servant maid Chandramma, Arundhati comes to know that she is a doppelgänger of her great-grandmother Arundhati, fondly called Jejamma.
Jejamma is an expert in painting, dancing, and martial arts. Her elder sister is married to her cross-cousin Pasupathi, a womanizer. He rapes the women he likes and kills those who object. While Jejamma was still a young girl, he rapes and kills her blind dance teacher while a horrified Jejamma watches through the peephole. Jejamma furiously demands that he be killed, but the king tells her that this would ruin her sister's life. Hearing this, Jejamma's sister commits suicide to save her family's reputation. The people of Gadwal ferociously thrash Pasupathi and tie him to his horse. Though Gadwal celebrates his death, he is saved by Aghoras (saints who practice the dark arts). Pasupathi masters the Tantric arts and returns to Gadwal many years later to exact his revenge. He unleashes carnage as he uses his powers to torture innocent people, something that the Aghoras are forbidden to do.
Meanwhile, Jejamma has grown up to be a gorgeous woman and is set to be married. Pasupathi arrives on Jejamma's wedding day and lusts her magnificent beauty. Before killing her he wants to rape her vigorously. He magically starts removing her clothes using his spells, but Jejamma lures him away into a room. She performs a special dance imbued with martial arts to lull Pasupathi. She then cuts off his tongue (thus ending the incantations) and pins his hands, allowing a chandelier to fall on his body. She spares him from being killed to prevent him from becoming a 'pretatma' (a demonic poltergeist). Pasupathi is buried alive in a tomb, and powerful 'yantras' (defensive spells) are put on it to prevent him from coming out. Though Pasupathi's corpse is buried, he uses his powers from his tomb to destroy peoples' lives by causing famine and diseases in Gadwal.
Jejamma then visits many temples and sages for the solution, but no one is able to solve the problem. She finally meets a few Aghoras in the forest, who tell her that she can only destroy Pasupathi's vengeful spirit in her next birth. Hence to initiate her reincarnation, she agrees to give up her life. They instruct her to bid goodbye to everyone before the sacrifice. Before leaving, she tells everyone that the first girl who will be born in their family will be a replica of her, having born with her face, and they all ought to respect the child as they respect her. She then returns to the Aghoras, asking for a painful death as the torture that she undergoes in the process of being sacrificed magnifies her revenge on Pasupathi. She dies a painful death by getting coconuts broken on her head. Later, her body is burnt on the stake and skeletonized for obtaining skull remains ashes and other accessories which are then fashioned into a dagger, the one weapon that could destroy Pasupathi forever.
A mad person unknowingly breaks the tomb in the hope of getting his dead wife back, which releases Pasupathi's spirit. Anwar, a fakir who treats patients through sorcery, asks her to fight Pasupathi. Arundhati comes to know that her great-grandmother had prepared a weapon with her own bones and had kept it with the sages. During their attempts to procure the weapon, their family is threatened, and Chandramma is killed by Pasupathi's spirit. Later, the spirit seems to have killed Anwar by throwing him off a cliff.
Arundhati, believing that Anwar is dead, returns to the fort to surrender herself to Pasupathi to prevent the death of her family members. Pasupathi takes his human form to rape and kills her as he desired. However, Anwar, who had survived the fall, hands the weapon to the maiden after many unsuccessful trials. The weapon has to be soaked in Arundhati's blood before it can be used to kill the evil spirit. Before Anwar can tell her this, Pasupathi kills him. As a last resort to save herself, Arundhati stabs herself with the same weapon, but the dagger begins to glow from her blood as an indication that her great-grandmother Jejamma had come. The brave maiden kills Pasupathi, and the building sets fire and blasts. Arundhati walks out of the place as Jejamma.
- Anushka Shetty as Arundhathi and Jejamma (dual role)
- Divya Nagesh as Young Arundhati
- Sonu Sood as Pasupathi
- Arjan Bajwa as Rahul
- Sayaji Shinde as Anwar
- Manorama as Chandramma
- Kaikala Satyanarayana as Bhupathi Raja
- Subhashini as Pasupathi's mother
- Ahuti Prasad
- Chalapathi Rao
- Bhel Prasad as Nilendra Varma, Bhupathi Raja's brother
- Leena Siddu as Dance Teacher
- Anita Raichurkar
- Meena Kumari
Shyam Prasad Reddy revealed that he got the idea of Arundhati while receiving National Awards for the film Anji (2004). Being inspired from films like Chandramukhi and The Exorcist, he made it a female-oriented story "for a bigger appeal so that the entire family could watch it. I added classical dance to it. I wanted to mount the film on a grandeur scale.[sic] I wanted to play the film on 'fear of the evil spirit'. Arundhati is about good fighting evil. Hence I had to make sure that both the characters of Arundhati and Pasupati equally powerful [sic]".
Reddy wanted somebody with a 5'10" (5 feet 10 inches) height and "should look royal because she the queen, she rides on horses and elephants". Gemini Kiran suggested Reddy to choose Anushka for the role. After conducting her photoshoot, Reddy explained the story and Arundhati's characterisation. Reddy wanted Tamil actor Pasupathy to enact the role of an antagonist of the same name but since the character has "a royal side to the character where he has to look princely", he had chosen Sonu Sood for the role after seeing his performance in Ashok (2006).
For the characterisation of Fakira who helps Anushka's character in the present era, Reddy drew inspiration from the priest character in the 1976 American horror film The Omen. Reddy considered Naseeruddin Shah, Nana Patekar and Atul Kulkarni for the role; however, none of their dates were available. Sayaji Shinde was finally chosen for the character.
Filming took around 250 days, in Hyderabad and other places. The interior of the place is shot at the Annapurna Studios, while the exterior was at Banganapalle fort. Filming also took place at Ramanaidu Studios.
Sowmya Sharma had dubbed for the character of modern-day Arundhati and Shilpa for Jejjama. Dubbing voice for Sonu Sood was provided by P. Ravishankar. Ravishankar completed the dubbing within 14 days and found it to be "most challenging work" and his voice "has gone sore for 5 times during this process".
Rahul Nambiar was appointed as Creative Director and Visual Effects Supervisor by Shyam Prasad Reddy for this feature film. Nambiar felt that showcasing a ghost as the main villain, throughout the film was challenging. With help of some dedicated scenes written, visualization, and visual effects, Nambiar and his team could achieve and what they had planned with Reddy.
Nambiar also stated "We created all the action in computer dolls, animated all of them and added all the film cameras and made it like a film. We saw it as a rough edit and then we shot it. There was a lot of meticulous work. The pre-production itself took about seven months".
The music and background music of this film was composed by Koti. The soundtrack was critically acclaimed. Especially the tracks "Jejamma", "Chandamama" and "Bhu Bhu" and in Tamil "Bhoomi Kodhikum" , "Gummiruttil Kudamkizhithu kundril ezhum" , "Enna Viratham Ettrai Neeyamma" were huge hits. The album featured eminent singers like K. S. Chithra, Kailash Kher, Kalpana Raghavendar and N. C. Karunya. Koti, while speaking said that this film helped him to prove himself and in his career of 30 years this was his personal best. The track "Jejamma" required a majestic and ambient grandeur, so Koti selected Kailash Kher. The track "Bhu Bhu" took many days for Koti to compose and he felt it should be sung by an amazing singer who could aptly give the ferocious feel and hence went with Chithra. Lyrics were written by Veturi Sundararama Murthy for "Bhu Bhu Bhujangam", Anant Sriram for "Chandamama", and C. Narayana Reddy for "Jejamma". This album features four songs and three instrumentals.
|1.||"Chandamama Nuvve Nuvve"||Sandeep, Sai Krishna, Murali, Naga Sahiti, Renukha & Chorus.||5:35|
|2.||"Bhu Bhu Bhujangam"||K. S. Chithra||5:25|
|3.||"Kammu Konna Cheekatlona"||Kailash Kher||7:48|
|4.||"Harivillulona Prananiposi"||N. C. Karunya||5:15|
|5.||"Soul Of Arundathi" (Arundathi's Music)||Instrumental||2:19|
|6.||"Agony Of Evil" (Pasupathi's Music)||Instrumental||2:35|
|7.||"The Beliver" (Pakheer's's Music)||Instrumental||1:19|
|1.||"Kannipenmai Poove Poove"||Tippu, Saindhavi||4:29|
|2.||"Bhoomi Kodhikum"||Kalpana Raghavendar||5:25|
|3.||"Gummiruttil Kudamkizhithu kundril ezhum"||Kailash Kher||1:59|
|4.||"Enna Viratham Ettrai Neeyamma"||Kailash Kher||4:52|
|5.||"Thikku ettum"||Kailash Kher||0:50|
- Nandi Awards 2008
Though this film was released in 2009, it was registered for 2008 films for Nandi Awards. The film received a total of 10 Nandi awards.
- Best Villain – Sonu Sood
- Best Child Actress – Divya Nagesh
- Best Editor – Marthand K Venkatesh
- Best Art Director – Ashok
- Best Audiographer – Radhakrishna & Madhusudhan Reddy
- Best Costume Designer – Deepa Chandar
- Best Makeup Artist – Ramesh Mahanti
- Best Male Dubbing Artist – P. Ravi Shankar
- Best Special Effects – Rahul Nambiar
- Special Jury Award – Anushka Shetty
- Filmfare Awards South - 2009
- Best Director - Kodi Ramakrishna
- Best Producer - Shyam Prasad Reddy
- Best Actress - Anushka Shetty
- Best Villain - Sonu Sood
- Best Dubbing Artist Male - P. Ravi Shankar
- Best Cameraman - K. K. Senthil Kumar
Rediff gave it three stars out of five and said, "The main plus points of the film are screenplay (creative director Rahul Nambiar and the Mallemalla Unit), art direction (Ashok), cinematography (Senthil Kumar), editing (Marthand K. Venkatesh), special effects and the performances of Anushka [Images], Sonu Sood and Sayaji Shinde. On the whole, Arundhati is a watchable film provided you don't have a weak heart and don't get into discussing logic, science, and rationality. Just watch what unfolds on the screen – for that's visual grandeur". Sify gave its verdict as "Worth a watch" with four stars noted, "The film has come across with some really mind-blowing graphics and presentation, even the performances were top-notch that helped. While the drums scene is a take from the Chinese movie 'House of Flying Daggers' it was well taken and presented. The shock points are high and one can say that the film is definitely not for the weak-hearted. There are enough chilling moments to shake the audience off their chair. The film is one of the best made ever in the history of Telugu cinema in terms of technical values so it deserves to be a good hit".
Arundhati's success turned Anushka into one of the most sought-after actresses in Telugu and Tamil cinema and catapulted her into the foray of leading Telugu and Tamil actresses. Sonu Sood attained stardom with this film and went on to work in several South Indian films as an antagonist. After the release of Arundhati, people began recognising him as Pasupathi. P. Ravishankar who dubbed for him also became popular and was referred to as 'Bommali or Bommayi Ravi Shankar' by the media thereafter.
According to writer Gopimohan, Arundhati made audience to "welcome creative content" and Magadheera started a trend of experimentation with period, socio-fantasy and spiritual themes that was continued in films like Panchakshari (2010), Nagavalli (2010), Anaganaga O Dheerudu (2011), Mangala (2011), Sri Rama Rajyam (2011) and Uu Kodathara? Ulikki Padathara? (2012). Tammareddy Bharadwaja said "Ever since Arundhati and Magadheera did well at the box office, the rest of the industry started following their footsteps. Also, since there is an irrational craze to make high budget films right now, producers are turning towards mythological films. It is the only genre where you can boast of spending crores for creating the sets and the look of the film. But what they don't realize is that if these films flop, the blow to the producer will be severe." Films like Anaganaga O Dheerudu (2011) and Shakti (2011) were commercial failures and Badrinath (2012) was an average grosser; all being fantasy films in which the protagonist is a warrior.
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