Filmmaker Vijaya Bapineedu is no more. This following interview was taken few years back when he was healthy and active. The director and producer had a lengthy chitchat with Telugucinema.com. We are republishing this interview from our archives.
If the name Gutta Bapineedu Chowdary does not ring a bell to you, try the name ‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu, and every Telugu film lover knows the name! The name ‘Vijaya’ is not a part of his real name but comes from the successful magazine that he ran. He’s not only a publisher, but also a story writer, producer, and director of many super hit films. Some films like Bommarillu, Gangleader, Maga Maharaju were huge hits that came from his banner. Here is a brief chitchat with him exclusive for readers of TeluguCinema.Com:
Sri: Tell me about your background.
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: I was born on September 22, 1936 to Seetha Ramaswamy and Leelavathy in Chatuparru village near Eluru. After completing my B.A. (Mathematics) in C.R.R College (Eluru), I joined the Zilla Parishat office as a clerk. There, I was selected to write exams for Deputy Panchyat Officer from that zone. There’re only two positions in the whole state of Andhra Pradesh at that time. …It’s pure luck that I got the job in fact. And, as a part of my duties, I travelled all over the state.
Sri: How did the transition from government employee to media management happen?
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: From the beginning, I was more interested in storywriting. I wrote several detective stories while I was doing my Ph.D. …which I never completed. Most of the stories I wrote were published on a pseudonym. (After his marriage, he wrote stories on his wife’s name.) Most of my initial stories were thrillers, and were published in the magazine “Apana” (which is the short name for “Aparadha parishodhana”, run by Shyam Prasad, the magazine was a huge success at that time in lending libraries; Kommuri Sambasiva Rao, Malladi Venkat, Vasundhara, etc. used to write to that magazine very regularly). Then, I wanted to start my own magazine instead of writing for others. There were already popular monthlies at that time, such as Swathi, Yuva, Jyothy (Jyothy’s editor’s nephew is Bapineedu’s co-brother) ..and thus to competete with them and find a foothold for myself, I knew I needed to start something different, and that was how I started “Vijaya”. It’s the first of a kind magazine, in that it used to have separate sections for comedy, stories, movie-related news, etc. All these came as one book, under the same cover, but each section is detachable, thanks to a special glue that we used for binding! This clicked in a big way and people started calling me ‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu. The cinema section in the magazine was also a big success as I used to give grading for the films according to the collection in the centers like Eluru. I used to have reporter called Gowrishankar (He’s also dialogue writer for the film like Joker, Nee Sukhame Ne Korukunnaa, etc.) who used to write reviews very boldly…
Sri: ‘Vijaya’ was a very successful magazine at that time, yeah. And, I think you also started some other magazines?
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: I started the children’s periodical called ‘Bommarillu’ as I used to write for ‘Chandamama’ before. ‘Bommarillu’ was also a very big success as I used to give one small short pull-out children’s novel with that. Later, I started a pocket-size series also translating the “Arabian Nights” into Telugu, and with some other stories …That series was also a big hit!
Sri: I think you also started the magazines called ‘Ramani’ and ‘Radhika’ which are soft-porn magazines!
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: Hmmm, yes! ‘Ramani’ and ‘Radhika’ are, you can say, soft-porn magazines, but nowhere in the book do you find any real vurlgarity.“ekkaDaa bootu unDEdi kaadu, antarleenamgaa SRngaaram unDEdi, antE!” They were successful in their own way…
Sri: You’re a father of four girls. Didn’t running such magazines allow people to pass comments on you?
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: (Laughs) Of course, they did! They warned me saying the very same thing – that I have four young girls in my home. We thus discontinued these magazines after a while, though they were successful.
Sri: Your ‘Vijaya’ was highly successful and sometimes went ahead of leading magazines like Swathi, Jyothy and Yuva. But, at the same time, another of your magazines, ‘Neelima’, was not so successful. Why?
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: True, and that was because I was concentrating more on ‘Vijaya’ than on ‘Neelima’. I used to own a press at that time. and I used to have a lot people working under me. So, I could think of starting another magazine. ‘Neelima’ was not successful due to two reasons: for one, it was oddly shaped, like an accounts book or something, and two, articles in ‘Neelima’ were more long-standing than in ‘Vijaya’. It soon became a monotony and thus it didn’t work out.
Sri: How did your interest with films start?
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: Actually, my cousin is Gutta Ramineedu, who was into films. Thus, when I started my magazines, I started interacting with film people more. Then, a couple of detective novels were made into films such as Jagajjetteelu (1970) (starring Sobhan Babu, Vanisree, and SVR, under the direction of I.N. Murthy) and Hanthakulu-Devanthakulu (1972) (starring Krishna, Krishnam Raju, under the direction of K.S.R. Dass). I got the rights of the Tamil film Mayangukiral Oru Madhu (1975) (starring Mutthuraman, Sujatha, Vijaykumar, under the direction of S.P. Mutthuraman), and wanted to remake it into Telugu as Chedina Aadadi, but P. Pullaiah gaaru, who was a member of the Censor Board then, didn’t allow me to use the title. Thus, the movie was released as Yavvanam Kaatesindi (laughs) (1976) starring Muralimohan, Jayachitra, Krishnam Raju, under the direction of Dasari Narayana Rao. Remember the song erugani sukhamE eduruga nilichindi… – it was from this film. The film was a super hit …and I started making films from then on.
Sri: I think you also dubbed some films like Manmadha Leela?
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: Manmadha Leela has a different story. I got the rights for the film and edited more than 250 feet. The tamil version had 1400 feet and I thought it was too lengthy and edited it to 1100, making it more crispy. Director K. Balachander sir was very upset about it when he saw the final version in AVM. (I was scared to show him personally so arranged the preview but did not attend it myself!) The film was a bigger hit than in Tamil! (Remember the song Hello, my dear wrong number!?)
Sri: Your titles always raised some sort of curiosity… like Rambha, Urvasi, Menaka or two short films together titled Rudra Thandavam(starring Sarath Babu).
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: I wanted to make films that ran for a little over an hour but that never worked out back then. Thus, I wanted to make two films, combine them, and release them as one publicizing the idea as “two films for one ticket”. The idea was not bad after all, I guess, as we had a break-even though not a big hit.
Sri: Another title I remember in this context is Bottu-Kaatuka (1978). I heard you wanted to name it as Mogudu Leni Muttaiduva, literally translating the Hindi title Sajan Bina Suhagan!
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: (Laughs) True, but we later changed to Bottu-Kaatuka, yeah, since we felt that the latter would be more appealing to the audience. The film was a good hit too, in fact!
Sri: Most of your films were done on “Shyamprasad Arts” banner with Maganti Ravindranath Chowdary as a partner. How do you know each other?
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: I knew him more when I was working as a clerk in Zilla Parishath. His father was the chariman at that time. I thus used to meet him and we became close friends from then on. …In fact, Ravi and I were close friends from childhood. He was well off from the beginning. We both were school buddies, and the relation grew with age.
Sri: No one in your family or in his family have the name Shyam Prasad. What was the reason to choose that as the name of the banner then?
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: My first film on Shyamprasad Arts (with Ravindranath Chowdary) was Yavvanam Kaatesindi, but before that I did Balipeetham in partnership with Y. Salil Chaudhury. The film was a big success. At that time, one of my friends called Shyam came to Madras and we planned to start a business. Unfortunately, he passed away even before we started it, at a very young age. He was a close friend to both Ravi and I, and thus we chose the name of our common banner in his memory.
Sri: You introduced many techincians: Rajachandra ( Bommarillu), Durga Nageswara Rao ( Bottu-Kaatuka), Mouli ( Patnam Vacchina Pativrathalu), G. Rammohan Rao ( Gooti Loni Ramachiluka), and Vallabhaneni Janardhan as directors, and cinematographer M.V. Raghu, Prasad, Maheedhar, Sreenivasa Reddy, Babu, lyricist Bhuvanachandra, music director Saluri Vasu Rao and dialogue writer Kaasi Viswanath,etc. to the films. What motivated you become a director yourself?
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: It just happened! …As Mouli who was unable to adjust the dates for the film Maga Maharaju, I stepped into his shoes and completed the film. The film became a huge hit and other films followed.
Sri: Though you directed several popular heroes like Sobhan Babu ( Maharaju, Kongu Mudi, Punnami Chandrudu, Bharyamani), Rajendra Prasad ( Vaalu Jada-Tholu Belt-u, Seetapathi, Chalo Tirupathi!, Naakuu Pellam Kavali, Joo… Lakataka, Donga Kollu, Mahajananiki Maradalu Pilla, Family), Bhanuchandar ( Police Officer), Krishna ( Maharajasri Mayagadu, Krishna Garadi), it is with Chiranjeevi that you hit the right cord and did more films ( Patnam Vacchina Pativrathalu, Maga Maharaju, Hero, Magadheerudu, Mahanagaramlo Mayagadu, Khaidi No. 786,Gangleader, Big Boss). You even started a magazine in his name (“Chiranjeevi”) with offset color photos all over! How’s your relation with him?
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: We used to be very close friends at that time. As I said earlier, I used to own a printing press, …and I thought it will be one of a kind of magazine, something that no one had done before. Later, we had to stop it as it didn’t work out like we expected. Yes, Chiranjeevi and I used to be good friends and we’re so even now. Recently too, they screened a special show for us before Chiruta was released. After Big Boss though, he said that we’d work soon but the plans just went on delaying… It never worked out for reasons best known to him.
Sri: Yeah, you even had a story contest, etc. to suit his image… When he got the stories to do films with others, we always used to wonder why you did not get the story!
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: I do not know. May be he just didn’t want to say no to me, but that didn’t strain our relationship! He is always nice to me and to my family, and so I do not have any hard feelings in this regard.
Sri: You made Bommarillu way back… If you look into some films of yours such as Maga Maharaju, Maharaju, Gangleader, etc., it’s the same story, and some of the scenes are also same in these films!
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: (Laughs) Why only these, there are other films like Magadheerudu, Hero, Mahanagaramlo Mayagadu, etc. which also have similar story and scenes. However, only few people are aware of that. At the end of the day, only the film’s fate – hit or flop – is all that matters, regardless of the story or scenes being same. “Will the audience accept the film?” is the only question, in fact!
Sri: Some of your films had Jayamalini and Jyothilakshmi in pivotal roles. I think they were at loggerheads at that time!
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: Like you may have known, both were sisters but I think Jyothilakshmi was adopted by a different family as a kid. She was not happy about jayamalini coming into the films initially. She is very intelligent…
Sri: What are your daughters doing now?
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: The eldest one is living in Detroit, USA with her husband. My granddaughter is pursuing her Masters program there. The second daughter’s husband is a doctor. The third one’s husband is Vallabhaneni Janardhan who directed a few films and is acting now and then. The youngest daughter’s husband runs a software firm. …All are well settled in their lives, and all of them are post-graduates too!
Sri: With all your family settled, what keeps you busy these days? By the way, do you remember how many films you made as a producer and as a director?
‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu: I do not attend much of the film functions, and I am not doing anything as of now except living a peaceful life. And, no, I do not remember all the films that I did, and I never, unfortunately, prepared a list! My wife does not have enough time to look after such things as she had to run the family/house with four daughters, particularly with her husband (me) who is always busy (laughs). I do not even have all the novels that I wrote, which is sad!
- Gangleader is one of the biggest ever 100-days function that happened in Telugu film industry. It is the first of its kind in fact, with 100-days celebrations arranged in four centers – Tirupathi, Vijaywada, Eluru, and Hyderabad – on the same day. Chiranjeevi, along with some other crew, flew in a helicopter and attended all the celebrations! Such a thing never happened before!
- There is no other offset complete color magazine that was published in the name of a film star, albeit for a short period.
- ‘Vijaya Bapineedu’ produced a joint venture with Murari – a film called Jegantalu with Ramji ( Swapna fame) and Muccherla Aruna, under the direction of Singeetam Srinivas Rao. The movie had some good songs such as idi aamani saagE chaitraratham…, etc. The film was a flop.
- Naming his films after the magazines he ran, ‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu made the films Bommarillu and Vijaya which went on to become good hits, and he even planned to make another film called Neelima, but it never materialized.
- ‘Vijaya’ is also the name of his wife. Initially, he used to write with the name of “Guttha Bapineedu Chowdary”, but he started writing as ‘Vijaya’ Bapineedu after his marriage
- Rajachandra’s real name is K. Venkateswara Rao. His name was changed before his film Bommarillu was announced.
- Guess his first novel name! Chiravidichina veera vanita
Ramba Urvasi Menaka
Dabbu Dabbu Dabbu
Gooti Lona Ramachiluka
Patnam Vacchina Pativrathalu (1982)
Maga Maharaju (1983)
Mahanagaramlo Mayagadu (1984)
Krishna Gaaradi (1985)
Kongu Mudi (1985)
Police Officer (1986)
Maga Dheerudu (1986)
Punnami Chandrudu (1987)
Naakuu Pellam Kavali (1987)
Maharajasri Mayagadu (1988)
Maa Inti Maharaju (1988)
Donga Kollu (1988)
Khaidi No. 786 (1988)
Joo… Lakataka (1989)
Mahajananiki Maradalu Pilla (1990)
Vaalu Jada-Thodu Belt-u (1992) Seetapathi, Chalo Tirupati! (1992)
Big Boss (1995)
Interviewed by : Sri Atluri