Nagarjuna’s Shirdi Sai movie – an emotional journey

It is an emotional journey for Nagarjuna’s fans and more for Shirdi Sai devotees for sure. I have been listening to Shirdi Sai songs since the day the audio has been launched, 24 hours during weekends, and most of the time in the office too. First two weeks after the audio released, I was in a divine world and felt Baba’s presence very strongly. It has never happened to me in my complete life. I have had experiences of feeling His presence but is for short periods of time, but not for two to three weeks in a blissful and blessed state at any point of my life.

Unnu and Prati, my nieces, who are in their teens, have seen the movie on the first day and got very emotionally touched by the movie and it seemed they have tears throughout the movie and finally broke out at the climax scene. Unnu even texted me after seeing the movie – ‘awesome, senti and cried like an old lady’; and Prati – ‘my head feels so heavy right now, it was little too much to handle because no one has warned me before, good movie though’ . When I talked to Prati, I asked her what she meant by warning and she has told me that she was not aware of Baba’s life and nobody at home prepared her about what she would expect in the movie before she has seen the movie. LOL, I laughed and asked her whether it was an exam to get her prepared before she watched the movie? They even advised me to take a sari to the movie as the tissues may not be enough.

Why I wanted to elaborate on their experience was there would be thousands and thousands of thousands of kids of that age group would be reacting to the movie more or less similar way as my nieces had reacted.

I have a facebook friend, Archana who also lives in Hyderabad (she is the best buddy of my other niece Prashanthi who lives in US), and her message in the facebook is almost the same – ‘awesome performance by Nagarjuna…n everybody did thier best n almost made everyone to cry…..almost  i was crying like a kid…..my goodness….last 20 mins of the movie is superb…merged audience totally in Shirdi……I loved it’

I wonder how come only kids and old people can cry and the others in between won’t have any emotions ? how how how (Brahmi style not Shinde’s style)

Coming to the movie, it starts on a very radiant moment – Abhishekam to Baba – This is the very first song after the initial bhajan song (the initial bhajan song sung by the singers so devotionally and brilliantly on the audio launch event which is not part of the movie – Om Sai Sri Sai Jai Jai Sai Jai Jai Sai which takes us to places where we had never been before and I loved it very much, emotionally I felt like I was part of that audio launch event) I got glued to and mesmerized by when I heard on audio launch day (sung by Shewatha Pandit herself on the stage) – check for my reactions to this song at http://wp.me/p1zyXN-pf

I was wondering how it would be placed in the movie, as they won’t do abishekam to Nagarjuna for sure, and they can’t do abhishekam to Baba’s vigraham when he was alive and they won’t show it in the end as the movie might end with Aarti. There is one place I completely overlooked and that’s where the director’s brilliance plays a major role. It was magnificently picturized by Gopal Reddy garu, I got goosebumps witnessing Baba’s abhishekam with five elements – milk, honey, sandal, water and finally vibhuthi and thanks to lyricist Shiva Datta garu – Jai Ho Sai Jayam Jayam Nee Pada kamalamulaku Jayam Jayam. And it immediately takes you into the mood of the movie.

There is another epic – Dattatraeyuni charithra beautifully depicted with Bapu’s magnificient art – loved it the core, the three little kids are so cute, and every piece is so beautifully done. And Bapu garu has lovingly done this masterpiece as he was very much impressed with KRR garu and Nagarjuna with their Annamayya and SreeRamadasu.

As always, Keeravani garu’s music composition and the BGM have uplifted the movie to another level. I loved almost all the songs and it is even very difficult to pick a few. And in the movie they passed by so quickly before I notice – each song is situational and very aptly placed. Ramanavami song is picturized very colorfully. The two songs penned by Chandrabose garu and sung by SPB garu, Suneetha and Keeravanai garu are heart touching – Talli Tandri leni pillalamainamu and Vasthunna Baba. I want to write a separate article on songs in this movie. Of course I missed Manava seva song, how could they do it? As Keeravani garu mentioned in one of the Press Releases that this song had born when Keeravani garu and KRR garu worked for ‘Allari Mogudu’ and it has been growing since then charanam by charanam when ever they both worked for a movie as a starting tribute to God and finally it took its final destiny for this movie. It is in the audio CD but not in the movie. Very disappointing. And this song is written by Keeravani garu. Looked like Arati song (telugu part of the lyrics) was picturized on Nagarjuna and might have been the victim of editorial cruelty, saw a glimpse of it in the movie (a split second, my imagination?) and I wish it was there completely in the movie, would have been radiant.

I too agree like many others that Dharmavarapu scenes should not have been there and even now if possible should be completely deleted. instead of that at least one or two scenes should have given more depth, especially NINE COINS – nine forms of bhakthi, should have been emphasized – 1. sravanam (listening), 2. keerthanam (praying), 3. smaranam (remembering), 4.padasevanam (Sastanga namaskaram cheyyatam), 5.archanam (pooja), 6.namaskaram (vangi namaskarinchuta), 7.dasyam (seva), 8.sakyathvam (sneham), 9.atmanivedanam (offering atma).

Except for that I do not have any complaints. Nobody expects any comedy in this type of movies, even if the director wants it, give us some light comedy not some rotten scenes in the name of comedy. Please do not insult the word ‘comedy’. I really wish, they would delete those scenes (Dharmavarapu scenes only) to keep the movie as neat and classy as possible.

I have read and been reading Satcharithra for almost last 30 years, countless times I have done the parayanam (finishing the book in seven days, some times like on Gurupournami or Maha Samadhi Day or on any specific day if I wished – I have read the book completely in one day). But today I found something surprising when I was looking for something else and with which I was able to connect to the movie. It is in chapter 37 of Sai Satcharithra –  about chavadi utsavam – వారు ఎవరినో పిలుచునటుల గానిపించేడిది. … బాబా తన కుడి చేతిని క్రిందకు మీదకు ఆడించేడివారు

With whatever the information I have retained in my mind, I do not think except for the last samadhi scene (in terms of where he left the body), vasthava  vakrikarana  ekkada jarigindi? The two places where they have taken cinematic liberties (certain number of years in his teenage years when Baba was out of Shirdi and the 72 hours episode) and in those two phases, none knows what happened, it was not depicted anywhere I guess. Ofcourse I have not read any book on Baba except Satcharithra. But in Satcharithra, it was mentioned that nobody knows what happened in those two phases of time. Normal audience (even Baba devotees) may not bother about the presence/absence of Hemadpant nor Kaka Saheb Dikshit nor many of Baba’s most close disciples.

The last scene (Baba mahasamadhi scene) even though it is a deviation from what happened in real life (in terms of the place where Baba has left his body which is really Dwarakamai), okka sari gundae jallumandi Nagarjuna ni Baba ga chudanganae.  I was really shocked even though I read about it somewhere in the forums. Even though we are seeing only Baba not Nagarjuna, but suddenly when he sat in that position, evarikaina okka kshnam gundae ala agipothundi. The director has taken cinematic liberty to give a profound climax. So I do not want to question about the place where He left His physical body. And yesterday I have seen in an interview and Paruchuri garu was explaining about Baba’s hand and how it came down after Baba has seen Dasaganu as Baba wanted to see Dasaganu before He left this world physically. I could not connect that relevance when I saw the movie. That is one more example of director’s brilliance.

Coming to Nagarjuna – I was little scared when I heard that Nagarjuna has agreed to portray Baba’s character. Interested to know more about my thoughts on this, https://saradapk.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/nagarjuna-as-saibaba/

Nagarjuna has given an exemplary performance. His career best. May be Annamayya’s climax stands at par with this movie. I was very much worried about his body language, how he would mould it and how he would make people believe that he is BABA. When he played as Annamayya and Ramadasu, people at most heard Annamacharya and Ramadasu keerthanas, but no body has an image of them in the mind. So moulding into those characters would be little easier. Even then he received criticism initially about his moustache and some other stuff, but he emerged out as an outstanding performer in both those films, especially Annamayya and its climax would stay as fresh and as rich as the cinema lives. And he emerged out in flying colors against all odds and criticisms. With that proud feather in his cap, I guess Sri Ramadasu was very easy for him.

But when it comes to Shirdi Sai, it is totally different. I am not talking about the issue of Bhaktudu vs. God’s messenger or almost God. But I am talking about the emotions of people – millions and millions of people who are Baba’s devotees and they all have a form in their mind even though none of the existing generation have seen Baba and no one knows how Baba looks like. But people expect a certain body language. I am sure Nagarjuna would carry the character of Baba in the old age with ease (with the confidence he has given us with Annamayya), but my concern was how he would carry the role when Baba was young. And I sincerely prayed to Baba that we should see only Baba not the Nagarjuna on the screen. And the verdict of millions of people today proved that Baba Himself has chosen Nagarjuna for this role. As the same point has been addressed by Nagarjuna in a TV interview today that Baba had called him to Shirdi even before he was asked by KRR garu to act in this film to make sure whether Nagarjuna was fit for this role. Not that Baba can not see Nagarjuna when he is in Hyderabad. It is just a felling. May be Baba wanted Nagarjuna to experience and fell Baba. And Nagarjuna was self analyzing in the TV interview about his mannerisms and how he should have walked in a way different from what he had done when he was rushing to Bayajabai’s house when she was ready to leave this world. I do not remember how he walked, but if he has walked fast, it should be ok, as in the case of “sirkim cheppaka” – Gajendra Moksham – Vishnu Murthy rushed to help Gajendrudu without even informing Lakshmi Devi. That’s my thought but I really do not remember how he walked or any one would ever notice.

Proud to be Nagarjuna’s fan anyday. That fact is being reiterated again and again with each one of his recent movies. And I am so happy to know that Rajamouli garu told Nagarjuna that he has shown us an ‘adbhutham’ and he has destined for much more and his career is starting from now on. One could clearly see Rajamouli garu’s emotions, how excited he was from this video clip.

Bottom line – I too have had tears in my eyes at few instances and tears rolled down at few other instances and I had tears for BGM at few shots too which I never had experienced before. And I came home around 10:30 p.m. after watching the movie and I started watching Nagarjuna’s interviews on the success of the movie on different channels (youtube) and I could not sleep the whole night. I slept around 6:30 in the morning. And now I am trying to put together my various emotions related to the movie I have been going through and it is almost 3 a.m. again.

And congratulating every one involved in this project …

And finally very touched to see Nagarjuna’s tweet a day before the movie released – dedicating this movie to his mother Annapurna garu.

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