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Great Indian Movies - Shiva
Sep 21, 2005 04:13 AM 8695 Views
(Updated Feb 01, 2006 11:40 AM)





Burning issues like student politics and violence in college campuses are one of worse thing happens to educational institutions in third world countries, which are not only hamper growth of shy youth and future generation but also encourage meddling of corrupted politicians and local crooks to increase campus crimes like rape, stalking, hate, bias related activities.

At age 28, young debutant director, Ram Gopal Varma wanted to show his audience what’s happening on the college campuses and directed best Indian movie on campus violence, Shiva. This movie shows us why he is one of finest director we have today in India. Shiva is among his most memorable work till to date along with his masterpieces like Satya and Company.


Shy newcomer Shiva (Nagarjuna) joins a college in mid-semester with full of high hopes and aspirations and immediately befriend with Asha (Amla), Prakash, Chhotu, and Naresh and forms small group. It doesn’t take long Shiva to understand current campus violence running by JD (Chakravarthi) - Lectures are disrupted, Girls are teased, Boys are tormented, Professors are humiliated. JD does all this with the backing of local mafia - Bhavani (Raguveer) and his sidekick Nanaji, further supported by a local politician (Paresh Rawal).

JD gets a taste of his own medicine when he crosses Shiva's path once too often. When Shiva challenges JD by fighting the student elections, it becomes open war. It doesn't take long Shiva to figure out how political leaders and local mafia were using college students for their own benefits. When Shiva’s friends become victims of JD and Bhavani’s violence, he systematically builds gang and cold bloodedly removes Bhavani’s supporters one by one and clean up the corrupt system.


While I was pursuing my college degree in early 1990s, I am well aware of existence of political influences in colleges all over India. Most of medical, engineering, and military colleges had a custom for ragging, which varies from lighter to serious mental, physical, or sexual matters to intimidate fresher in either on-campus or hostels. Every college had local Bullies who push around student traveling from nearby villages or students who doesn't have political or monetary support. Many of us who were students at that time when movie was released can identify themselves with the main theme of movie of student politics and violence in college campuses. Shiva's hard-hitting drama looked nothing but reality of 90s. That’s the reason it was runaway hit in Telugu and later widely appealed to Hindi audience.

From the very first opening scene to unforgettable climax, Shiva is two and half hour flawless, gripping, intense, epic action thriller. Movie sends out great message to people, who want to stop crime single handedly as messiah or who are committing or supporting crimes. Movie get darker and darker as it get closer to climax. Most of all scenes and sequences involving rival gangs duels, group fights, and chases are realistically executed.

As movie starts, you get to know JD’s campus violence, Shiva gets aware of JD's troubles on very first day, doesn’t take long Shiva to form small friendly group with Asha, Prakash, Chhotu, and Naresh. With in half an hour, you get to know angry young man in Shiva. Shiva duels off with JD's gang and bashes them up chasing around college campus. Movie gets more serious with yearly student elections, Shiva supports Naresh against JD in college election, JD and Bhavani murders Naresh, Shiva bashing up JD again at hotel highlight, Shiva decides himself to run election against JD is expertly executed. Last one and half hour of movie, simple college rivalry soon escalates into a major underworld gang war, which doesn’t spare anyone involved. Slowly and slowly Shiva build a gang and cleanup the system at the expense of his owns.

All murder of key members of both gangs are brutal, graphic, and expertly executed. For instance, Bhavani’s gang kills Naresh by bashing his head with hockey sticks and smashing his face on a rock, Bhavani turns simple meeting into killing rival minister by stabbing knife into belly, Bhavani’s gang kills Prakash after chasing him in ravines and slicing his face with axe, Shiva finishes off Bhavani’s gang members when they attacked him near his house, Bhavani’s gang kills Chhotu by chasing him in urban jungle of streets and houses and piercing knife through belly, Bhavani strangles Tilakdhari with his Belt, and Shiva pushes Bhavani from top of multistory building above elevator. Beauty of all these murders or deaths are none of those bodies are shown on the screen but still it can be well imagined by viewer.

One of the most memorable sequences of Shiva is first duel between JD and Shiva, which set the intense grim mood for the film and portrays hero as angry young man who fears no one – One afternoon on campus courtyard, JD pushes and harasses newcomer Shiva, Shiva pulls off chain from bicycle, warps it around his hand, and retaliates with a mighty blow on JD’s face. This is one of the most definite moments of this movie. I have asked many of my friends about Shiva and all they remember is - Shiva was using chain to fight against rival gang.

In many ways, Shiva changed face of Telugu film industry like Sholay did in Hindi film industry. Shiva was pioneer in technical achievement (Illayraja's background score, Varma's camera movements) and realistic screenplay (In-depth characterization, well knitted realistically treated epic drama, short and hard-hitting dialogues, realistic action sequences) in Telugu cinema. All leading characters like Shiva, Asha, Prakash, Naresh, Chhotu, JD, Bhavani, and Tilakdhari are well defined and expertly distinguished. All action sequences like duels, group fights, and chases enhanced by thrilling evocative background score.

As far as acting, this movie belongs to none other than Nagarjuna. His transformation from shy newcomer to student leader to violent gangster is outstanding. The way he holds back himself as soft-spoken guy while interacting with friends and girl friend and brings front himself as furious and ruthless leader while interacting with rival gang members is treat to watch. Raghuvaran who played psychopath Bhavani is one of top maniac characters in Indian cinema along with Sholay's Gabbar Singh, Mr.India's Mogambo, Shaan’s Shakal, Parinda’s Anna, and Karma’s Dr. Dang. Look out for Satya’s Chakravarthi as JD - college bully and pawn of Bhavani in first hour of movie.

Although background score was outstanding, one of the disappointments of Shiva was its soundtrack, it contains three songs and all are unnecessary. I believe lot of people flocked to theaters in 1990s to see this film because of Illayraja's songs especially BOTANY CLASS but watching same songs in 21st century is nothing but interference to the story. Shiva is one of those seat edged thriller, which require no songs.


As I said earlier, this is RGV’s finest work and hard-hitting tense thriller. If you are into realistic college campus drama then don’t miss Shiva. It is tremendously well-executed motion picture. They say good action movies are rare and great action movies come along once every few years. Shiva belongs to later category – great action movies. It is amusement park’s thrilling rollercoaster ride, which you will want to ride again and again.

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