As Ram Gopal Varma’s classic ‘Shiva’, widely regarded as a film that influenced a generation of filmmakers, completed 25 years last week, the cast and crew comprising Nagarjuna, Amala, Kota Sreenivas Rao, Tanikella Bharani, JD Chekravarthy, Brahmaji, Uttej, Chinna, S Gopal Reddy, Rasool, Siva Nageswara Rao and Krishna Vamsi among other unit members celebrated the occasion on Tuesday in Hyderabad. Here’s what the people behind the iconic action drama; that introduced many technicians to Tollywood, had to say:
(L-R) Brahmaji, Rasool, Krishna Vamsi, Gopal Reddy, Amala, Nagarjuna, Shiva Satyanarayana, Varma, Chekravarthy, Bharani, Kota Sreenivas Rao, Uttej, Chinna and Siva Nageswara Rao
Nagarjuna: It was sound engineer Krishnam Raju who said that his son Varma had a story for me. I said let him bring it to me. Varma narrated the script of ‘Raathri’ to begin with, but since I was not a fan of the horror genre, I asked him to come up with a commercial subject. He later narrated ‘Shiva’. I liked his passion and intensity during the narration. We started ‘Shiva’ within no time. I cherished every moment shooting for the film. I waited to play cricket with assistant cameraman Rasool. I waited to romance Amala (laughs). The film changed my life, personally and professionally, forever. I might have been disappointed with some decisions that I made in the course of my life, but with ‘Shiva’ it’s otherwise; it’s a decision I’m proud of. I’m releasing the digitally re-mastered version of the film after ‘Oka Laila Kosam’ release. If I don’t get 100 screens I’ll release it in at least 75 screens.

Ram Gopal Varma: Post the release, Akkineni Nageswara Rao garu asked me to give a print ad, thanking the audience for making the film a blockbuster. I was against it. My point was that if a film succeeds at the box-office the credit goes to the whole team and if it doesn’t the director is to be blamed. During the making of ‘Shiva’, the only person who understood my vision was Nagarjuna. He blindly believed me. Neither I nor the unit made the film, thinking that it will be a blockbuster and will set a trend; but the constant feeling everyone shared on the sets was that it was a different film in the making.

Amala: ‘Shiva’ is a dream, a good dream that makes me feel happy. If I get to watch any part of the film, I get to see Varma’s passion and Nag’s confidence in him.

Kota Sreenivas Rao: Ramu garu met me in Chennai to narrate my role. He assured me that I’ll get to shoot only for a day. I dropped by the sets and it was my first ever interaction with Nagarjuna, who is still the same coming to his looks, on a film set. I asked Varma where my costume was and was told what I was wearing aptly fitted the role. I gave my first shot leisurely, clearing something in my ear and he okayed it. I was like, ‘is the shot okay?’ The same evening I got to shoot the scene which required Raghuvaran to strangle me with his belt. The late artiste ensured that I was really not choked to death (smiles). I learned how to act naturally through ‘Shiva’. Like ‘Mayabazar’, ‘Shiva’ will stand out as a classic for generations.

Tanikella Bharani: It’s a moment of silence for me as ‘Shiva’ completed 25 years. I still recall Varma okaying my first shot, though I forgot to utter my line. He was of the opinion that I conveyed what I needed to, through a gesture. Post the shot, he came to me and said that it’s better I forget putting pen to paper, only for me to realise later that I would become a busy actor.