Deccan Chronicle

Thick jungles Tollywood's new canvas

Deccan Chronicle| BVS Prakash

Published on: April 3, 2021 | Updated on: April 3, 2021

Instead of palatial houses or swanky locales, Telugu filmmakers choose dense forests as their movies' backdrop

Rana Daggubati in Virata Parvam

Rana Daggubati in Virata Parvam

Tollywood is set to see a surge of big films either based in thick forests or with the forests adding a crucial character to the storyline. Close on the heels of the recently released Rana-starrer, Aranya, Virata Parvam — also starring Rana — is slated for release in April-end.

It is to be followed by other big movies in the subsequent months, including Krish–Rakul Preet Singh’s untitled movie, the Allu Arjun-starrer Pushpa, Rajamouli’s RRR and Gopichand’s next, which is set to explore Seshachalam, Nallamala, Thailand, Nilgiri and Chittoor forests.

In other words, Telugu film viewers can expect to be served a liberal dose of the ‘green world’ with a penchant.

Producer Suresh Babu, who is making the rural-saga Narappa, in which the protagonists of the movie hide in thick jungles, admits to the recent fascination of a few filmmakers with thick jungles. "Back in 1990, we made the film Bobbili Raja in the forests. It was a bit expensive at that point."

Narappa captures the best of terrains and greenery in the forest region near Anantapur District," says Suresh." However, the escalating production costs as a result of the forest backdrop are concerning.

"Although, I didn’t produce Rana’s recent movie Aranya, the makers of the forest-centric movie spent a bomb as they had to shoot with fifteen elephants and the unit had to stay in the jungles for long periods," adds Suresh.

But was production cost the only concern? What about threats from the wildlife, we wonder. "More than the threat of wild animals, unit members are usually advised to be cautious about leeches during the rainy season, for instance. A few snakes and small insects also fall into the precautionary lists, for the skin rashes they could cause. It’s important to remember that as we are encroaching into their territory, we have to take every step watchfully," he remarks.

The grandeur of forests showing through

For filmmaker Venu Udugula, who’s directing Virata Parvam, the jungle’s charm had more to do with his storyline than its scenic beauty or overcoming the fear of wild animals.  He speaks about looking forward to exploring the mysteries of the jungles in the film, which was shot in the forests in Vikarabad and Karnataka.

"Frankly, forest is one of the characters in my film and a very vital motif in our ultras’ story—not just a mere backdrop," explains Venu. "I believe every forest has its own story to tell and they have remained spectators to many good and bad events happening right before its eyes."

Producer Bogavalli Prasad agrees that forests were used for a song or a fight in the past. However, he also admits that making a complete film in green shades will be pleasing to the eye for the movie buff as it will be enchanting.

Far from the madding crowd

In addition to filmmakers, actress Adah Sharma, who is doing an untitled forest-based thriller in Telugu with director Vipra, has shot in the laps of nature for twenty-eight days.  "It was a wonderful experience shooting in forests and I could breathe fresh air from bountiful trees, away from concrete jungles," adds the actress poetically.

Of course, not everything was hunky-dory. The life out of the jungles was sometimes inaccessible. The actress missed calls because of the lack of network in the deep forests.

"I was happy that I wasn’t disturbed by calls or messages and that I could concentrate on my work completely. In fact, those few weeks served as a phone detox period for me," she concludes.

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