The box office collections of Allu Arjun–Rashmika Mandanna-starrer Pushpa The Rise have been phenomenal, with even the dubbed versions, including Hindi, setting the cash registers ringing. In fact, the Sukumar-directorial recently went past the Rs 100-crore club in Hindi — an incredible feat considering the pandemic and prevailing movie theatre situation.
Even as we applaud Allu Arjun and Sukumar for their work, we turn the spotlight on some other interesting aspects and people instrumental in making the film a blockbuster.
The backstory to Thaggede le
Thaggede le (no stepping back) — Pushpa’s signature phrase from the film has become a rage. From actors to international cricketers’ celebs have been emulating this dialogue accompanied with the signature gesture.
However, the film’s director Sukumar revealed that the gesture wasn’t something he had planned consciously.
"We were keen to have a signature gesture for the protagonist — a gesture that he had to repeatedly do to emphasise his attitude. But we hadn’t figured any. While shooting an action sequence, I observed Allu Arjun unconsciously making this gesturing repeatedly in between the shots. I thought it was an apt one and both of us fixed it as the signature gesture," explains Sukumar.
However, Sukumar further points out, they added the phrase thaggede le to the gesture to make it even more telling. "We wanted both the phrase and the gesture to be in sync with the hero’s attitude and thought thaggede le aptly mirrored the hero’s attitude and conduct," states Sukumar.
Of course, the filmmaker hadn’t ever expected that the signature phrase and gesture would become a sensation. "But as both of it added to the hero’s attitude, it flowed naturally, without looking like a forced inclusion. It’s probably why it worked big time," adds Sukumar.
The swashbuckling move over a number
The ‘instant chartbuster’ numbers for the entire film was courtesy composer Devi Sri Prasad (DSP). But the most daring move by DSP was choosing Indravathi Chauhan for the number Oo Antava… Oo Oo Antava… essentially because Indravathi had never before sung professionally. She’s a folk singer who rendered her songs at a few stage shows.
But DSP had wanted to bring out local talent and so he reached out to her and recorded the special number. Turns out the song, which talks about male gaze, tops YouTube’s ‘Top 100 Music Videos Global’ list. An incredible feat indeed, considering that the song was sung by a newcomer!
Indravathi shares her surprise too.
"When singers go in to record a number, composers only sometimes reveal which film they’re recording the song for," she says, adding that she was surprised to know that she was called on to record a number.
"DSP garu had seen some of my stage performances, and was surprised to know that I was singer Mangli’s youngster sister. When he asked me to sing the Oo Antava... Oo Oo Antava number, I confessed to him that I couldn’t pull it off because I didn’t think I had a voice that suited the song."
But thankfully DSP persisted, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Indravathi describes the experience of singing the song as ‘different and interesting’ but admits she’s shocked though happy over how big a hit the number became.
"It was unbelievable because I’d never rendered a song in that genre, and I thought it was impossible, but all the credit goes to DSP sir," says Indravathi with a smile. She’s now been getting several other offers too.
Mangli had crooned the Kannada version of the same song her sister sang in Telugu. Just as in Telugu, the Kannada song went on to become a rage.
"It actually surprised me that DSP sir made me sing the Kannada version instead of the Telugu version," expresses Mangli. "Perhaps he wanted to introduce new folk talent in Telugu, which was why he launched Indravathi."
That being said, she’s not missed the fact that it’s very rare that two sisters would get to sing the same song in two different languages. "But I am blessed for the response I got for the song," she explains.
Of course, there’s now pressure on the sister-duo to come up with more super-hit numbers. "I wouldn’t want to call it pressure, but yes there’s definitely more responsibility on us," shares Mangli.
Lyrics & Music
DSP’s pulsating music in the film was ably complemented by Chandrabose’s insightful lyrics that give the right dose of heroism and a glimpse into the story of Pushpa. Be it the vivacious Srivalli, the foot-tapping Saami Saami, the vibrant Daakko Daakko Meka or the mesmerising Oo Antava...Oo Oo Antava, all numbers have been hailed for its lyrics.
Interestingly, lyrics for all the songs in the film were themed around the protagonist’s ideology, going a long way in becoming integral to his characterisation in the film. Chandrabose, who’s written award-winning lyrics for over two decades, says it’s always a great opportunity writing lyrics for rare stories and songs.
Stating that it’s always a pleasure working with director Sukumar, he adds, "I always try to blend lyrics with emotion. The lyrics to all the songs were inspired by the philosophies and lessons in real-life situations that are touched upon in the film. Hence, the objective was to portray the rise of the protagonist in sync to what’s happening in real life too."
However, the lyricist smiles, reminiscing how his journey as lyricist was made even more challenging with Sukumar. "As the songs drove the narrative, the lyrics had to always describe the situation and the journey of the characters. That’s exactly what we did with Puspha. DSP, Sukumar and I’d sit discussing it all for hours, after which the songs and lyrics would come alive," Chandrabose reveals.
A lot of DSP’s songs grow on one’s ears with time though the numbers from Pushpa: The Rise, which were pivotal in making the film a super success, became instant super-hits.
Devi Sri Prasad"I don’t know what I’m without music," expresses DSP. "I’d tried to come up with a different music in Pushpa and the audiences blessed it."
But the best part for the composer about working with director Sukumar was that they tried to bring out something new from every technician. "I try to find song inspiration from daily life incidents, which also pushes me to be creative and come up with interesting tunes," he says. "In fact, most of the songs in Pushpa reflect the contemporary mind sets of people."