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Pichla | Agla

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here).

Stars: 4.5 / 5
Recommendation: A well-made devotional movie based on the real-life of a pious person.

Shirdi Sai is a Telugu biographical movie released in September of 2012. It is based on the life of the spiritual guide Shirdi Sai Baba who lived during the late 19th and early 20th century in the town of Shirdi, India.



In 1986, K. Vasu had directed a movie based on Shirdi Sai Baba with the title Sri Shirdi Sai Baba Mahatyam in Telugu. Vijaychander had portrayed the role of Shirdi Sai Baba and it went on to become a block-buster hit. Till date we listen to the songs from this movie every time there is a devotional event or at temples. Music was composed by Maestro Ilayaraja. It is considered an evergreen classic. That said, actor Akkineni Nagarjuna - who portrayed the title role in this 2012 version, director K. Raghavendra Rao and music composer M. M. Keeravani had some big shoes to fill in here.

This was the third installment by Nagarjuna playing a devotional / mythological role in a biographical film based on lives of great persons from Indian mythology - as Annamayya in the movie of the same name in 1997 and as Kancharla Gopanna in the movie titled Sri Ramadasu in 2006. And both ended up being blockbuster hits with movies still drawing audience now. So we can definitely agree that Nagarjuna would be a logical choice for this movie as well. Well, how did the movie fare compared to the similar ones for Nagarjuna?
Let me start with the good points. The movie has been made mostly true to the actual life history (true as much as we have heard it word of mouth or read through the books) of Sai Baba. Every character portrayed for each of the one that Sai Baba had met in his life were also true to the real-life ones. K. Raghavendra Rao has managed to make it a movie that equaled the 1986 version. A few scenes from the movie that puts his life in front of your eyes.



A scene where Sai Baba makes water and fire by just hitting a spot on the ground with his chilam.



The neem tree that Sai Baba first time entered Shirdi and had meditated underneath it…and here he comes back again.





A scene where he is seen going underground and later revealed that he was visiting his guru.





A few more scenes where people worshipping him and him working along with them.





One of the British Colonel Wales takes pics of Sai Baba and people who had served him and lived with him. These pictures go on to become famous and now reside in every one's home albeit they are of original Sai Baba than Nagarjuna. :P







However, a few things that I would put in the not so good column, if I may say. First, there is a character called Bhatia who constantly tried to disprove Sai Baba all through his life, goes to the extent of hiring killers to kill him. I remember reading the life story of Sai Baba but don’t remember this character. Perhaps I am missing it in my memory but that character puzzled me all through the movie. Secondly, the music. Although the songs were melodious I don’t think any of them are as memorable as the first version of Sai Baba or even the previous two biographical installments of Nagarjuna. Lastly, Nagarjuan fits for a romantic hero or an action hero. However in the previous two installments although he becomes a devotional person, the stories have romantic side of the lead character which is contrary to this one. Seeing Nagarjuna in a complete non-romantic role took a little time to get used to before I sank into the movie.

That said, all in all a well-made movie, that touched my heart and which I enjoyed living through Sai Baba's life via the media. Considering it has been marked as a blockbuster hit I am guessing everyone else felt the same. However, the impact that Annamayya and Sri Ramadasu left on me by Nagarjuna's acting was more compared to that in Shirdi Sai. If you get a chance and if you are into such movies, do watch it. I definitely recommend it.

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