Yamudiki Mogudu

Yamudiki Mogudu was made in 1988 which may explain some of the costume choices or, then again, maybe not! Whatever the reason the wardrobe guys seem to have had the time of their lives and the costumes used in the songs here are fabulous. Our DVD came with a breezy alert stating  “Regret Poor Quality”. It turns out that was not useful life advice or a comment on the film, but a warning that the picture quality was a bit dodgy so we regret the poor screencaps.

But what about the movie … Well this is another Chiru film which manages to fit in plenty of action, drama, fight scenes, obligatory machetes, preposterous moustaches and hairstyles, romances with two heroines, a double role of sorts and plenty of singing and dancing.  And at 147 minutes  the pace is cracking, with never a dull moment.

We meet Chiru first as Kali, a thief with a heart of gold who robs, steals and works as a mercenary in order to help fund his brothers education, support his family and generally look after the inhabitantsof the slum area where he lives.  On one occasion he is called to the mansion of Kailasham, to be punished for daring to steal from the magnate, when his daughter looks out of a window and spies Kali fighting off her father’s goons in true hero style. Of course, like us, Radha falls instantly in love with the dashing Kali and grabs her video camera to rush down and immortalise the action.

Her love is reciprocated and Radha’s  father is appalled when he sees photographs of the two of them together.  These photographs are from a dream sequence song so we’re not quite sure about the science that made this possible.

Kailasham conspires with his onetime enemy Kota Kondappa (Kota Srinivasa Rao with a flamboyant moustache), and his repulsive son Chantibabu  to destroy Kali. This will allow Chantibabu to marry Radha and put a stop to the depredations Kali is making into the business of the two conspirators.  They have been the ones employing him to steal, but logic doesn’t play a big role here.  They assassinate Kali on his wedding day, at which point Kali is taken to hell.  Kali argues with Lord Yama (Satyanarayana) about his early demise, and gains the assistance of Vichitra Gupta (Velu) who points out the rather serious error made by Chitra Gupta (Allu Ramalingaiah). Lord Yama does some quick thinking to get rid of this loud and irritating human who has dared to tap dance, rock and roll and even disco (yes, really)  in a range of amazing costumes with the heavenly apsara played by Ambika.

Kali’s body has been cremated meaning he cannot simply return to his old life. Lord Yama  shows Kali three other men who look identical to him, and who are each about to die. Kali can choose to inhabit one of their bodies once they are dead, and in this way return to Earth.

Since he has no other options he takes on the body and thus the life of Balu, a rather pitiful man who has been beaten down into the life of a servant by his free-loading uncle.

Although Kali isn’t supposed to remember his former life, he does know that he is no servant and proceeds to turn his new family upside down. Balu assumes control of the family fortune, frees his mother from kitchen drudgery and spends time with his girlfriend Gauri (Vijayasanthi).  His uncle really should have known as soon as that steely eyed stare fell on him that his easy living days were well and truly over!

Of course we know this can’t last, and events conspire so that Kali does regain memory of his former life.

We finally get to a resolution where the bad guys lose, the good guys win and Kali/Balu has to somehow reconcile his relationships with both women.  Kali appeals to Lord Yama to help sort out his marital problem.  Surely he should have realised that Lord Yama was perhaps a bit unreliable in his decision making?

Chiru is his usual wonderfully athletic and energetic self as Kali and the songs were obviously choreographed to show off his dancing style.  While the inspiration for the costumes is anyone’s guess, the backdrop in the many songs is equally bizarre and colourful and we love it!  Radha initially plays it straight as the spoilt and indulged daughter, but once she falls in love she is vivacious and energised and does a really good job of keeping up with Chiru in their songs together.  She even manages to look comfortable in all the ruches and ruffles of her costumes.  Vijayasanthi is beautiful as the feisty Gauri and we thought she had made it through the costume department almost unscathed until she emerged, draped in pearls, from a clam shell. Then we saw Chiru had also been clam shelled. The design department on this film really made it their own!

The film was written by Satyanand and directed by Ravi Raja Pinisetty. The fight scenes are well choreographed and flow nicely with the action sequences.  The best comedy is in the scenes with Chiru, Lord Yama,Chitragupta and Vichitragupta.  The character of Chantibabu initially is fairly repulsive as he tries to rape Radha to ensure that she will have no choice other than to marry him, but he very quickly becomes a figure of ridicule.  Most of the remaining comedy subplot revolves around the relationship between Kota and Kailasham and is not particularly funny, although Kota’s untameable hair is.  The real reason to watch it is Chiranjeevi, of course, and the fabulous song picturisations based on the compositions by Raj-Koti and lyricist Veturi.

Heather says: This is one of my favourite Chiru films and I think one of his best performances. The fight scenes are well choreographed, and the dancing is superb, when you can take your eye off the costumes that it! Any film that includes Lord Yama will appeal to me, as I like the opportunity it gives to make the impossible happen, and it usually means plenty of mayhem. I also like the bumbling conspirators and their vacillating between being enemies and friends. Both Radha and Vijayasanthi are lovely in this and do well to hold their own against Chiru in his energetic performance. Its such a shame the set and costume designers don’t get credited as their work in this film is truly outstanding. I did also like the glowing skull eyes in hell and horns on the demons that were very floppy when they danced! But of course Chiru is the reason to watch this film, and the Megastar really delivers. 4 1/2 stars from me.

Temple says: This is so very entertaining, and if you haven’t seen a Chiranjeevi film before I think this is a great place to start. The songs and costumes are brilliant and completely over the top, while still being linked in to the story. I liked that there was some sort of discussion about the whole taking over someone else’s body idea. Kali not only had his self-preservation instinct but felt protective towards the displaced soul and wanted to somehow repair things for Balu. All the performances are good, with Vijayasanthi and Radha being both decorative and memorable. But it really is Chiru’s film, and the film succeeds in keeping my attention through all the plot permutations because he gives it his all. He is fun as Kali and quite pathetic as Balu, and gets to show some dramatic range even while pummelling the bad guys. Like Heather, I always enjoy an appearance by Yama in a film as it usually means lots of sparkly gold and a dance number. My expectations were met, and then some! I’m an unashamed Chiru fan, and I really loved this film. 4 and 1/2 stars from me.