Shiva (1989)

  • Written by Ram Gopal Varma (RGV)
  • Directed by Ram Gopal Varma (RGV)

   Repeat Value : 10 / 10     

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Shiva - Movie Highlights

There are just a few bunches of films that permanently altered the Indian cinematic landscape. Back then such was the impact of the movie that the era of filmmaking was divided into Pre-Siva era and Post-Siva era. This was Ram Gopal Varma's (RGV) debut film in Telugu in 1989. It is based on student politics in colleges with mafia backdrop. He adapted the film's basic plot from Bruce Lee's 'Way of the Dragon' (1972). Also the inspiration came from 'Arjun' (1985), another great film. RGV wanted to show audience what's happening on the college campuses and directed best Indian movie on campus violence. With wide positive reviews, the film became a blockbuster. It was completely remade in Hindi 'Shiva' (1990). Its Tamil-dubbed version 'Udhayam' was also successful. In addition to the Filmfare Award for Best Film - Telugu, Siva won three Nandi Awards - Best Director (RGV), Best First Film of a Director, and Best Dialogue Writer (Tanikella Bharani). A documentary titled 'Exploring Shiva after 25 Years' was released on the film's silver anniversary; a first for a Telugu film. Today at 25+ years, 'Siva' enjoys a cult status and is listed on CNN-IBN's '100 greatest Indian Films' of all time.

The film opens with a bunch of gangsters, led by Ganesh, a local rowdy, waiting outside the college. A college student JD (JD Chakravarthy) signals the goons & they proceed to bash another student and his friends on his behest. JD has been using local rowdy power to keep his hold on the college and its politics. Siva (Nagarjuna) newly joins the college. He befriends few of his college mates which includes Asha (Amala), Malli, Naresh & Chotu. In an encounter JD irks Siva, who bashes him all through the college tarnishing his image as a powerful student leader. With this JD brings in rowdies from outside into the college campus. He is actually the last link in the ring which connects him to a local rowdy, Ganesh leading to a big goon Bhavani (Raghuvaran) with connections into politics in the form of Machiraju (Kota Srinivas Rao), who all use the student power for their political games. When college elections start, Siva suggests a much eligible Naresh for the post. Bhavani who does not want to loose his hold interferes bringing him face to face with Siva. Siva ignores his threats to which Bhavani kills Naresh brutally. This ignites Siva and he himself runs for the post now. With Machiraju changing sides for his political gains, Bhavani feels threatened of his position. So he begins a deadly game of killing one by one to regain his control. The climax brings the end of Bhavani with personal loss to Siva.

Siva (Shiva) is widely regarded as a film that influenced a generation of filmmakers. It is definitely a path breaking film because when it released the perception of making and seeing films changed altogether. In many ways, Shiva changed face of Telugu film industry like Sholay did for Hindi film industry. Although Hindi Industry had many films which were path breaking time and again, but Shiva changed the landscape (the worst phase of 80's). It is tremendously well-executed motion picture. From the very first opening scene to unforgettable climax, it is flawless, gripping, intense, epic action thriller. The film was a kind of a pioneer in some technical aspects like sound and camera work. The film's original soundtrack was composed by Ilaiyaraja and the intense background score elevates the visual experience. Action is first rate and of course, the violence is very raw and gritty and be it the fights or the chases, all are realistically executed. One of the most memorable sequences of 'Siva' is first duel between JD and Shiva. This is one of the most definite moments and it has become a kind of hallmark of the film.

Though a debut movie this film shows us why he is considered as one of the finest directors of all time. Siva is among his most memorable work till date. Today when we look back at his filmography, we are proud of his films such as Kshana Kshanam (1991), Raat (1992), Gaayam (1993), Rangeela (1995), Satya (1998), Company (2002), Bhoot (2003) and Sarkar (2005). For Siva his realistic screenplay (well knitted story, in-depth characterization, realistically treated drama, short and hard-hitting dialogues (by Tanikella Bharani) and realistic action sequences) altogether changed the grammar of making films. It will remain a cult classic forever.

This is considered as Nagarjuna's breakthrough film. Nagarjuna who stars as shy newcomer turned student leader turned mobster is nothing short of brilliant. There are only a few dialogues for him in this film, but he lets his eyes to speak everything. He wonderfully expresses the cold ruthless fury. But undoubtedly the second hero of this film is Raghuvaran. He is excellent in the role of a baddie and leaves a tremendous impact. He is psychotic and menacing. Rest of the cast support very well and are good in their parts.

On the whole they just don't make films like this anymore!