Zanjeer actor Bharani directs critically acclaimed film ‘Midhunam’
Midhunam will soon head to Cannes & other international film fests
Entertaining experimental film celebrates 60 successful days, eyes 75 days
This 58-year old Telugu actor, writer, poet, playwright and director, who has dedicated 29 years of his life to the film industry working in 600 plus films, is on the verge of creating history! Telugu film thespian Bharani Tanikella, who will be seen portraying an investigative journalist’s role in Apoorva Lakhia’s ‘Zanjeer’ remake starring Ram Charan Teja, Priyanka Chopra and Prakash Raj, is celebrating 60 Diamond Days of his debut film, ‘Midhunam’ (Harmony) even as it inches towards 75 Platinum Days mark. Buoyed with the enthusiastic response in Andhra Pradesh, the film will soon release in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu with subtitles but preserving the magic of Telugu bhasha.
The veteran film and theatre actor, who became a debutante director almost at retirement age with ‘Midhunam’ (www.midhunam.com) – a film on a septuagenarian couple – is planning to showcase the film at Cannes as well as Mumbai Film Festival amongst other international film festivals. Bharani, who wrote Ram Gopal Varma’s cult film ‘Shiva’ (starring Nagarjuna) and also acted in it, has acted with the who’s who of Telugu cinema but choose to make an entertaining yet experimental film with just two simple characters played by Padmabhushan Dr. SP Bala Subrahmanyam & the legendary Lakshmi (aka the original ‘Julie’ in Hindi cinema). The actor, who has two films with Junior NTR and one with Pawan Kalyan, didn’t take any contemporary stars in his film, Midhunam.
The multi-facetted Bharani Tanikella, says, “The Telugu film industry makes more than 250 films every year and I wanted to take Telugu films to the world cinema level. Films have to be purposeful and Midhunam’s message is that senior citizens can also enjoy life if they get engrossed in enjoyable activities and endeavours.” He adds, “In these contemporary times when every film is targeting the youth, I wanted to create new audiences especially the oft-forgotten senior citizens and young ones. It was heartening to see 80-year olds trudging to the theatres with their sticks and sometimes with support from their children or grandchildren. Midhunam helps bridge the generation gap and induces pride in our traditional culture, ethics and values. There is scope for a change. If we make good movies, public will watch, appreciate and reform themselves. A powerful media can change the society.”
And the film is really attracting a lot of attention right from Andhra Pradesh to the United States to Canada. In Hyderabad, a police officer showed the film to 150 other policemen. Prasad Film Labs distributed free popcorn and water to all the audiences four weeks after release. Renowned south Indian director Bapu wrote a personal letter appreciating the film and missed watching it with his film buddy the late Ramanna. Singeetham Srinivas and Sowcar Janaki said it was a fulfilling experience. Dasari Narayana Rao said it should go for a national award. A youngster replaced his computer screensaver from a popular actress’ image to that of his parents. The film was shown in 20 theatres in the US and two in Canada. NRIs are calling Bharani for access to the film and its DVDs.
One of the most popular NRI websites for Telugu film reviews, IdleBrain’s publisher and film critic Jeevi says, “Midhunam is a film that every Telugu person should watch! Midhunam’s story is based on a 21-page short story written by Sri Ramana. Tanikella Bharani has developed it into a full fledged script. Tanikella Bharani, known to us as a great writer and then a great actor, surprises us all by his ability to make a 2-hour length feature film with two old characters. It’s extremely difficult to make people sit for 2 hours for a 2-characters film. But, Tanikella comes out with flying colors in engaging the audiences and entertaining them. It’s a fascinating concept of an after-retirement couple who stay in their secluded village house and whose kids stay faraway chasing dollar dreams. Tanikella Bharani has mixed humor and creativity to a subject that is highly contemporary. Midhunam is a film that should be watched though one might think twice because of the orientation/title/actors. It’s an art film with entertainment and lot of meaning. It will get awards purely on its merit. This film is of ‘world cinema’ quality on international circuit.”
Bharani claims that he continues to be inspired by the legendary Satyajit Ray, who made memorable films in simple settings with a universal message. The unassuming creative genius says, “People do tapasya (penance) for God and they find him whereas I did tapasya for audiences and they walked in to see my film. I believe that I have made a good film and the film has become GREAT!”
Dr. SP Bala Subrahmanyam, who plays Appadaasu, wondered how Bharani could make a 20-page story into a two-hour movie with 80 scenes! As the film progressed, he enjoyed the role and accepted my condition that he shouldn’t sing in the film. After watching the first copy of the film, he said one thing: “If I were to tell my life history, then it should before Midhunam and after.” Initially Lakshmi was hesitant to do the film but when she heard the narration of the story, she started crying after 15 minutes and immediately accepted saying that no story narration had ever brought tears to her eyes. She said that she enjoyed living the character of Buchchi Lakshmi for 30 days and then coming back to her real life totally transformed.
A commerce graduate with a PG Diploma in Theatre Arts Bharani has worked in more than 600 Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Hindi films, and has written the dialogues for 52 films. He has won awards more than 25 times as best writer and 50 times as best actor in theatre. He won the prestigious MIFF award as best debut director for the short film ‘ink’ as well as 2 Nandi awards for performances. He directed many other short films such as ‘blue cross’, ‘the last farmer’ and ‘key’. He started his career as a dialogue writer for Kanchu Kavachum in 1984. and has written dialogues for various movies like Ladies Tailor (1985 film), Sri Kanaka Mahalakshmi Recording Dance Troupe (1987), Varasudochhadu (1988), Chettu Kinda Pleader (1989), Swara Kalpana (1989), and Seenu Vasanthi Lakshmi (2004). Bharani also penned and sung the lyrics of Gundammagaari Manavadu (Bhale Bhaleti Mandu). In 1989, he appeared in the hit film Shiva by Ram Gopal Varma (which starred Nagarjuna) and received much recognition for his character Nanaji. He also played the lead role in the Hindi comedy film Main Tere Pyar Mein Pagal in 1999 and Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega. His powerful antagonism in Samudram won him the Nandi award as the Best Villain. After 2000, he started playing more mature roles in movies like Manmadhudu (2002), Okariki Okaru (2003), Samba (2004), Malliswari, Godavari (2006), Happy (2006), and more. He played one of the lead roles in Rajubhai (2007). He is very much popular in the background of movie industry, often quoted as “Maga Saraswathy” (Male god of education) by different actors and actresses.