Anji is a 2004 Indian Telugu-language fantasy action-adventure film directed by Kodi Ramakrishna. The film stars Chiranjeevi in the title role along with Namrata Shirodkar, Tinnu Anand and Nagendra Babu. It is produced by Shyam Prasad Reddy on M. S. Art Movies banner. The film has music composed by Mani Sharma with cinematography by Chota K. Naidu. At an estimated budget of ₹25 crore (US$5.52 million) to ₹30 crore (US$6.62 million), it was the most expensive Telugu film ever made at the time of its release.
|Directed by||Kodi Ramakrishna|
|Written by||M. S. Art Movies Unit|
(Story and screenplay)
|Produced by||Shyam Prasad Reddy|
|Cinematography||Chota K. Naidu|
|Edited by||K. V. Krishna Reddy|
|Music by||Mani Sharma|
M. S. Art Movies
Anji was in production for more than six years and after multiple delays, the film released on 15 January 2004 during Sankranthi festival. Though the film was noted for its visual effects and Chiranjeevi's performance, it was not commercially successful due to its high budget. In addition to two Nandi Awards, the film received the National Film Award for Best Special Effects, becoming the first Telugu film to win a National Award in that category. The film found a place in the Limca Book of Records as the first Indian film with 3D digital graphics.
The Aatmalingam of the Himalayas possesses enormous divine powers. Once every 72 years, the Akasa Ganga from the sky flows into Aatmalingam. Those who drink Akasa Ganga 's holy water become immortal and gain supernatural powers.
In 1932, during the colonial rule in India a youngster named Veerendra Bhatia with two greedy tantriks is in search of the Atmalingam from a cave which is guarded by a divine trisulam and a gigantic cobra. They try to bring it but fail, resulting in the deaths of the two tantriks and Bhatia losing his right hand. The sacred Aatmalingam gets swept away in the river and becomes invisible. Time progresses and Bhatia, now 99 years old, searches for the Aatmalingam's traces, but in vain. The Akasaganga is slated to flow to the earth for the Atmalingam in 2004. Finally, he gets to know about a professor who researched the Aatmalingam and Akasaganga and possesses vital information in a red diary.
Fearing for his life and this information, the professor sends the diary to his student Swapna, who is in the US, so that Bhatia will not be able to become immortal. After receiving the journal, Swapna, sensing danger to her professor, comes back to India in search of him, only to find him killed. While escaping from Bhatia, she runs into Anji, a good Samaritan in the Uravakonda forest area, who serves the most revered Sivanna, an ayurvedic specialist, while also raising four orphans.
One day, Anji stumbles on the Aatmalingam and takes its possession. After coming to know about it, Bhatia and his men are after Anji and Swapna. As the D-Day of Akasaganga is fast approaching, Sivanna tells Anji that the Aatmalingam should be sent back to where it belongs. So, Anji goes to the Himalayas to restore Aatmalingam in a temple which is built using Saligrama by Bhagiratha. The temple becomes visible only after 72 years. Anji faces many traps in the temple and survives to restore the Aatmalingam. But Bhatia drinks the water before Anji could drink it. One of the orphans gets shot. Anji and Bhatia get into a fight, and at last, Mahakalabhairava appears and kills Bhatia using his third eye. Anji manages to run from the temple, and a drop of the holy water revives the orphan who had been shot by Bhatia. Anji, Swapna and the four orphans return to their home in a helicopter, and the Aatmalingam and the temple vanish, never to be seen again.
- Chiranjeevi as Anji
- Namrata Shirodkar as Swapna
- Tinnu Anand as Veerendra Bhatia
- Nagendra Babu as Sivanna
- Bhupinder Singh as Young Bhatia
- M. S. Narayana
- Akshay Reddy as Master Akshay
- Bharat as Master Bharat
- Vamsi as Master Vamsi
- Meghana Gummi as Baby Meghana
- Keerthana as Baby Keerthana
- Nitya Shetty as Baby Nithya
- Madhusudhan Rao as Bhatia's henchman (uncredited)
- Ramya Krishna has a special appearance in the song "Chikbuk Pori"
- Reema Sen has a special appearance in the song "Mirapakaya Bajji"
- Rajlaxmi Roy has a special appearance in the song "Manava Manava"
In May 1997, Zamin Ryot reported that Kodi Ramakrishna would direct Chiranjeevi in a big-budget film produced by Shyam Prasad Reddy. In a report on 24 October 1997, it noted that the film would begin on 1 November 1997. A week later, it noted that Shyam Prasad Reddy had already visited the United States four times to discuss the graphics work required for the film.
In December 1998, India Today reported that Tinu Anand would play the role of a centenarian in search of a magic potion that promises eternal youth, in the film. In August 2000, Bhupinder Singh was reported to be part of the cast. In March 2001, it was reported that Singh was cast in the role of main villain whose older version was being played by Tinu Anand. One of the tantriks who appears in the opening scene of the film was actually a beggar who used to beg near the L. V. Prasad Eye Institute.
In June 2000, Idlebrain.com reported the tentative release date of the film as 1 October 2000. On 11 September 2000, producer Shyam Prasad Reddy informed that the shooting part of Anji would be finished by 15 October 2000 and confirmed the film's release date as 22 December 2000.
On 16 September 2000, Chiranjeevi mentioned in an interview with Rediff that the film hadn't been named yet and that it would be either Anji, the name of his character or Akasaganga. He also talked about the reasons for delay:
"It's because of the heavy graphics work involved. That is the only reason for the delay. For the first time in Indian cinema, we are picturising 20-24 minutes of the film in 3-D animation. It will be an amazing package of virtual reality. Quite spellbinding. The producer, M Shyamprasad Reddy, an MBA graduate from the US, is highly quality cautious, keen for this film to be the ultimate product. To that end, the graphics is being done by an expert team led by Chris, known as UK-2, at London's Digitalia Studio."
By November 2001, the shooting portion of the film was completed except for the songs. The report also added that the songs would be shot in December and January and the film would be ready for release by February 2002. In December 2001, when director Kodi Ramakrishna was asked about the film being in production for four long years, he replied:
"Though it has taken 4 years to make this film, viewers would realize that it should have taken seven years to make such a powerful graphics film. It's very easy to criticize that this film is taking long time to make. I would like to appreciate Shyam Prasad Reddy for one reason. He would have made a mass film with the Chiranjeevi dates and amassed a cool profit of 3 crores. But he preferred to make an extraordinary film by putting so much of money.
In May 2002, Shyam Prasad Reddy noted that the graphics work for the film was expected to be completed by 30 July and the film would be released soon after 15 August 2002. On 23 August 2002, it was reported that only the graphics work was pending and the film might release either during Dasara festival in 2002 or during Sankranthi in 2003. On 15 December 2003, producer Shyam Prasad Reddy spoke to Idlebrain.com and noted that the film would have a theatrical release with five songs and "Gumma Gulabi Komma" song would be filmed and added in the fourth week of the theatrical run.
Kodi Ramakrishna revealed after the film's release that Chiranjeevi wore the same shirt during the filming for two years without washing to maintain the continuity of his character and the plot. He mentioned that some of the scenes required 100 to 120 shots.
Concept art and Visual effects edit
Anji had digitally enhanced animated characters. The sketches of Lord Siva, Siva Lingam, and an old temple were made by the noted director and illustrator Bapu. Based on these sketches models were created and sets were made. Firefly Creative Studio handled the VFX shots for the closing battle, Lord Siva temple, one the romantic songs, and the Maha Sivaratri festival scene among others. Graphics work also involved studios from the US, Singapore, and Malaysia.
|1.||"Chik Buk Pori"||Sirivennela||Shankar Mahadevan, Kalpana||5:09|
|2.||"Gumma Gulabi Komma"||Sirivennela||Karthik, Shalini Singh||5:48|
|3.||"Abbo Nee Amma"||Bhuvana Chandra||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Kalpana||5:45|
|4.||"Om Shanthi"||Chandrabose||Shankar Mahadevan, Ganga||5:49|
|5.||"Manava Manava"||Sirivennela||Tippu, Sunitha||5:37|
|6.||"Mirapakaya Bajji"||Bhuvana Chandra||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Radhika||5:57|
On 5 January 2004, Shyam Prasad Reddy announced that Anji will be censored on 7 January and that the film will release on 9 January. On 7 January, MS Arts confirmed that the release date of Anji was postponed to 14 January as the final graphics portions were getting delayed by a couple of days.
On 8 January, conflicting release dates were published in different newspapers. Vaartha published the release date as 14 January while Andhra Jyothi published it as 15 January. The confusion was later resolved when official sources revealed the release date as 15 January and that the decision to change the release date happened late in the night of 7 January and by the time they informed the same to newspapers, Vaartha had already published all its editions.
Mohini Films, the distributors of the film in the Vizag region booked a private air cargo to ship prints from Hyderabad to Vizag which was said to be a first in the history of Telugu cinema. Anji released on 15 January 2004 during Sankranthi festival. It released on 16 January in some regions as the post-production labs could not print the required number of prints in time.
Critical response edit
Jeevi of Idlebrain.com rated the film 3 out of 5, commending the visual effects and Chiranjeevi's performance while criticising the screenplay and direction. A critic from Sify rated the film 3/5 and wrote, "Despite all those special effects the film is unimpressive as the subject and style is outdated." A critic from Deccan Herald wrote that "Anji teaches us how to make a movie out of a logic-defying story".
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Creatives for visual effects: Bapu
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Anji, which has been in production for more than seven years, is the costliest film ever made in Tollywood. Producer Shyam Prasad Reddy is said to have spent around Rs 25 crore for this film.
- "When Tollywood tunes didn't mesmerise box-office". Business Standard India. 1 January 2005. Archived from the original on 12 March 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
The Rs 28-crore film, which took nearly six years to complete .....
- Ogirala, Mohan Rao (24 June 2004). "It's raining flops on Tollywood's parade". The Times of India. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
The Chiranjeevi-starrer Anji didn't run for long though the film took over Rs 30 crore and five years to complete.
- "Movie review - Anji". Idlebrain.com. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
Though taken six years to make, Shyam Prasad Reddy should be commended for getting visual effects to Telugu cinema, which are of Hollywood standards.
- "'Lakshmi Narasimha' VS 'Anji' in 2004". The Times of India. 1 November 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
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- Limca Book of Records. Bisleri Beverages Limited. 2006. p. 107. ISBN 978-81-902837-2-4.
- "శ్యాంప్రసాద్ రెడ్డి చిత్రం" (PDF). Zamin Ryot (in Telugu). 30 May 1997. p. 12. Retrieved 30 April 2023.
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- "News Today: Anji release in February". Idlebrain. 25 November 2001. Retrieved 13 September 2022.
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- "News Today: Chiranjeevi is not acting in Baba". Idlebrain. 23 August 2002. Retrieved 13 September 2022.
Only graphic work is pending for the film. This film would get released as soon as the work is completed at Digitalia, UK. Anji might be released either for Dasara 2002 or Sankranthi 2003.
- "IB exclusive - Anji Audio details". Idlebrain.com. 15 December 2003. Retrieved 13 September 2022.
- Rayala, Rajeev (20 February 2021). "Chiranjeevi : మెగాస్టార్ చిరంజీవి ఆ సినిమా కోసం ఒకే షర్ట్ ను రెండేళ్లు వేసుకున్నారట.. అదికూడా ఉతక్కుండా..!!". TV9 (in Telugu). Retrieved 14 November 2022.
- Pasupulate, Karthik. "Bapu is like Picasso: Chiranjeevi". The Times of India. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
When shooting for Anji, we needed an illustration of Nataraja in full flow for the animation. Producer Shyam Prasad Reddy approached Bapu garu for the illustration and he readily obliged.
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