Bollywood Hungama recently revealed in an exclusive piece of news, how the exhibitors were troubled with the footfalls of Dil Se (1998), which completed 24 years on August 21. The viewers would leave within the first 15-20 minutes after watching the song ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’, featuring Shah Rukh Khan and Malaika Arora. This is when Bharat Shah, who distributed the film, suggested that ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ should be placed at the end so that moviegoers would be tempted to sit throughout the film. Ram Gopal Varma revealed this aspect to this writer and shared about another Mani Ratnam film which also faced such cuts from a distributor.
Happy Birthday Nagarjuna: Ram Gopal Varma exclusively reveals how an Andhra Pradesh distributor BUTCHERED his film Geethanjali; yet it worked in cinemas!
The film in question is the Telugu romantic drama, Geethanjali (1989). It starred Nagarjuna, who celebrated his birthday on August 29. Ram Gopal Varma told Bollywood Hungama exclusively, “The funniest incident I know in this regard is about Geethanjali. It’s the story of a happy-go-lucky guy who resides in the city. He meets with an accident. While treating him, the doctors discover that he has cancer and has a very short time to live. He convinces his parents to let him move out as he didn’t want to see their crying faces all the time. He goes to Ooty where he falls in love with a girl. While he can’t confess to her that he’s dying, he can’t stop loving her either. At the end of the film, she reveals that she is suffering from cancer too. Both then walk off into the sunset.”
Ram Gopal Varma said, “A week before the release, the preview of the film was held in Annapurna studios for the distributors and other industry people. The distributor of Guntur hated the film. He found it depressing and made it clear that he won’t take delivery of the film. However, he said that he will buy the film if the makers cut the scenes of the character meeting with an accident, learning about his terminal illness, convincing his parents and going to Ooty.”
Naturally, Mani Ratnam was shocked on hearing this demand. RGV stated, “Mani lost his mind on hearing this incident. He felt that he can’t cut the beginning portions of the film, wherein so many plot points are revealed. The distributor remained adamant as he reasoned that he bought with his money. Mani, too, refused to bow down to his demand.”
Sadly, the distributor emerged victorious. Ram Gopal Varma continued, “Meanwhile, the producer of the film, C L Narasa Reddy, without informing Mani, cut the scenes and delivered the prints to the distributor. Once the film was released, it was a hit. And even in Guntur, it became a super hit! Those days, the reviewers were all based in Hyderabad. There were no cell phones or internet. So, nobody knew what version of the film was playing in Guntur!”
Ram Gopal Varma stated, “I met one guy who had seen the film in cinemas in Guntur. I asked him if he didn't feel odd that Nagarjuna was based in Hyderabad and how he suddenly reached Ooty. To which he replied, ‘I thought he came to Ooty just like that’!”
He ended his tale by remarking, “Most people don’t realize that a film is a series of shots and scenes. In every scene, what the audience will think is very difficult to predict! A critic watches the film seriously. I don’t think the average moviegoer watches the film with the same eye.”
Nagarjuna, meanwhile, is gearing up for the release of Brahmastra, in which he has a crucial role. It also stars Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Amitabh Bachchan and Mouni Roy and it will be released on September 9. His other release in 2022 is The Ghost. It’ll be out on October 5.
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