The best part about comedy action movies, with a distinct southern flair, is that they are easily accepted throughout the area. In recent years themselves, there are many such examples. The film in selection this week – Hanuman Junction (2001) – fits perfectly into this category. It is a remake of the huge Malayalam hit ‘Thenkasi Pattanam’ released in 2000 which ran for a record 275 days, collected Rs 20 crore in box office receipts and had a large star cast including Lal, Suresh Gopi, and Dileep, whose role, though its secondary structure remains vital to the entire narrative. Of course, Kannada, Tamil and Bangla versions followed in the following years with mixed box office luck.
A wild and over-the-top mix of machismo and melodrama, this film, starring Jagapathi Babu and Arjun, was released in the last week of December 2001. It was a venture funded by publisher Mohan whose son M Raja made his directorial debut with home production. Arjun, who has always had a stable market in Telugu and known as “Action King”, made a great combo with Jagapathi Babu who had a great time at the box office at the start of the new millennium.
With the commercial potential thus established, the film also featured young Telugu girls like Sneha and Laya as well as Venu Thottempudi who was also highly visible in films at that time. Chennai-born Suresh Peters, known for his AR Rahman-scoring hits in the mid-1990s, was hired as music director, retaining him from the original Malayalam film.
The tough and tough characters played by Arjun and Jagapathi Babu have kept action fans glued to the proceedings, while the seemingly impossible love affair between Venu and Vijayalakshmi, who fears her brothers but can’t help but being drawn to the former made the romantic bit in the film interesting. The film’s twists and misunderstandings as the film runs for 159 minutes ultimately engages the audience that gave it the green light.
Arjun, who had a hit ‘Sri Manjunatha’ released in mid-2001 got a big encore when ‘Hanuman Junction’ followed at the end of the year. Her role in the devotional enterprise, directed by the legendary K Raghavendra Rao, was also highly appreciated by Telugu audiences, as the film was shot simultaneously in Kannada and Telugu.
The other USP was that megastar Chiranjeevi was also featured in the film playing Lord Shiva, also known as Manjunatha. This favorable atmosphere was in any case the fruit of many other dubbed films that Arjun had seen released on the southern market over the past two years. This included the Telugu dub of showman Shankar’s “Mudhalvan” and a few others which also cast him as a romantic hero, downplaying the difficult and tumultuous scenes his films contain to a large extent.
The second hero, Jagapathi Babu who is now seen trying out more villainous and anti-hero roles in Telugu and Tamil cinema was something of a chocolaty hero then. In 2001, he had four outings and hit the mark with three, including the one with Arjun. Having sustained himself for over 15 years in the industry, his career hit a new high with the remake of Malayalam.
Director M Raja, who began his cinematic journey at the age of 27 with this film, then reached great heights after his first film which was the story of two childhood friends in a village who fall in love with the same woman. appeal to the Telugu audience immensely. Critics praised him, and one hailed him as the one “who knows the pulse of the masses”.
Sneha, who was a relative newcomer to Telugu cinema, then delivered a solid hit “Priyamaina Neeku” which also repeated his successful run in Tamil. The other Telugu girl, Laya, a dancer from Kuchipudi who was also a known chess player then had a few more movies than Sneha but couldn’t go the distance in the industry as she saw her career dwindle. finish in the mid-2000s. Either way, this movie turned out to be a memorable experience for many, from the helmsman to the heroes and heroines.