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I always remember the year of 1989 to be a course changing for Indian cinema. It was the year when two of the most celebrated directors of today had taken their steps to achieve permanent place in the long list of directors who altered the course of cinema. Mani Ratnam with Geetanjali and Ram Gopal Varma with Shiva have changed course of Indian cinema forever and these films stand forever in the memory of telugu film lovers. Strangely or co-incidentally enough both the films had the same lead, Nagarjuna and the same music director, Ilayaraja.
What sets apart these films from the rest and what was new in these two films to deserve this special mention. The first and foremost is the themes the directors have chosen to play with. While Geetanjali showcases the emotions of a two lovers who are nearing death battling terminal diseases, Shiva deals with the disease of rowdyism plauging the educational system in the society and one man's rise to oppose it. These films were as diverse as chalk and cheese but they put up a different perspective of how man tries to react when faced with different challenges.
A brooding Prakash in Geetanjali, inspired by Geeta, tries to take life as it comes but Shiva in Shiva tries to take control of the situation and deal with it head on. The diverse characters and their approach towards the problem they face was new for the audience, the deft handling of the directors had made it delightful for the audience to sit through the novel presentation.
At the time of their respective theatrical releases the films faced much problems for their release but when they got finally released, history was made. Though Geetanjali cannot boast of the same success as Shiva achieved, it remains an all-time critics favorite. These two movies remain among the best works of Nagarjuna which always set him apart from the stars of Tollywood.
23 years later, these two films remain as fresh as their music. The re-recording employed by the makers remain a breakthrough. While Shiva was more on the silent side when it came to its action episodes, Geetanjali was more on the entertaining side quite in contrast to its grim subject. While the photography of PC Sri Ram for Geetanjali imaginatively captured the colourful side of life and also the darkness of the heart through his lighting and framing, the cinematography of S Gopal Reddy carefully depicted the harsh reality of the day by using natural lighting and innovative camera angles. Mani Rathnam and Ram Gopal Varma created new benchmarks for Indian cinema, technically and thematically. After these many other films followed the path but none could create the same magic of these films.
Geetanjali and Shiva had released in the gap of few months and changed the course of cinema forever. They were dubbed and remade into various other languages and continued to create the same magic by breaking conventions and creating new standards.