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Revisiting Okkadu: What makes the action entertainer one of the most-loved Mahesh Babu films?

Ahead of Okkadu’s re-release at the theatres commemorating Mahesh Babu’s birthday, we relook at the many aspects that worked for the film

Revisiting Okkadu: What makes the action entertainer one of the most-loved Mahesh Babu films?
Bhumika Chawla and Mahesh Babu
  • Team OTTplay

Last Updated: 09.57 AM, Aug 08, 2022

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It has been nearly 19 years since the action entertainer Okkadu, starring Mahesh Babu, Bhumika Chawla, directed by Gunasekhar, hit theatres. The film introduced a brand of commercial cinema in the Telugu industry where an actor needn’t had to shout at the top of his voice to overpower the antagonist. More than his pelvic thrusts or punch dialogues, Mahesh Babu overpowered the baddie with his street-smartness and composure in Okkadu.

The timing of the film’s release is indeed interesting. Mahesh Babu was on an all-time low with a disastrous project like Bobby, whereas director Gunasekhar too was coming after a huge flop, Chiranjeevi’s Mrugaraju. Distributors were in a soup with the result of Mrugaraju, given it wasn’t a verdict that many would’ve foreseen post their earlier collaboration, Choodalani Undi.

Mahesh Babu was barely six films old with his most notable hit being Murari, which was a hit with the family audience. The star needed a film that cemented his authority among the masses too. Then came Okkadu, a film that was first narrated to Ramoji Rao but the discussions didn't progress any further owing to miscellaneous reasons.

Producer MS Raju, who received a major setback with Venkatesh’s Devi Puthrudu, took a liking to Okkadu’s script. The combination of Mahesh Babu, Gunasekhar and MS Raju didn’t offer much hope to many industry pundits and fans alike. The producer though gave his everything to make this film work, right from the budget, casting and playing a key role at the editing table.

The much-popular Charminar set in the film was erected in the outskirts of Hyderabad. Over Rs. 15 crores were spent on the film entirely and it was a major risk at times when the highest priced ticket in the state was a little over Rs 50. Okkadu released for Sankranthi, locking horns with Jr NTR’s Naaga, which opened to mixed responses. While Ravi Teja’s Ee Abbayi Chala Manchodu was an average fare, Pellam Oorelithe clicked with crowds.

Okkadu released on January 15 and the fans erupted out of joy, having experienced one of the classiest action entertainers in Mahesh Babu’s career. The film overtook its competitors by a huge margin, in terms of buzz and box office collections. The plot was anything but unconventional though Gunasekhar’s restrained, controlled treatment made all the difference.

Bhumika Chawla and Mahesh Babu
Bhumika Chawla and Mahesh Babu

How can one not talk about the iconic Konda Reddy Buruju fight leading to the interval? The entire episode unfolds with minimal dialogue, driven by intense expressions, with Mani Sharma’s kickass background score enhancing its impact to a great level. This scene was celebrated in theatres with great cheer and it’s hard to think if any scene in any other Mahesh Babu film could do better than this.

The audiences thronged the theatres like never before and the film collected more than Rs 26 crores share and went on to be an all-time blockbuster. The movie ran for 100 days in more than 50 centres. The remastered version of the film is the perfect gift that Mahesh Babu’s fans would’ve desired on his birthday. For a generation that isn't aware of the Okkadu euphoria, the big-screen experience will truly showcase why the film continues to be a cut above the regular mainstream fares.

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