AITHE – A FILM WHICH WE WILL ALWAYS BE PROUD OF
2003 was a period where Telugu cinema was known for making highest grossing commercial entertainers, Then came a filmmaker which no one knew, when even debut directors were making high budget films he made a film with a shoestring budget. A film with 4 unknown faces. He designed a poster with just a white font on a black background. When every film used to have a template of 6 songs he made a film with just one song. The film had all the reasons for the common audience to just ignore the film. The film got released on 11th April 2003 with just 8 prints and as expected the theatres had nothing but flies, mosquitoes and few film buffs for the morning show but with sudden word of mouth the halls started filling and the prints started increasing and a year later it got National award for the best feature in Telugu cinema.
Today, It is the film which we will always be proud of. Aithe is one of the best-written screenplays in Telugu cinema and a film which took the rules of filmmaking seriously in the era of formulaic commercial cinema. Let’s analyse the film and find out why Aithe is a special film.
Chandrasekhar Yeleti’s way of taking up stories is always the same till date, His characters are just normal people like us, they have problems which are relatable to us. But all he does is take those ordinary characters and put them in extraordinary situations, From Aithe to Manamantha he sticks to the same rule and also this is something which many screenwriting books teach us. The characters in this film have financial problems like we all have, Shankar who needs to send money to his poor farmer father, Kumar who needs money for his own comfort, Ramu who needs to bribe the police academy to become a police and Aditi who needs money for her father’s operation.
Aithe is K.K.Senthil Kumar’s first film. While all the other Telugu films were obsessed with high key lighting and dreamy locations, Chandrasekhar Yeleti and Senthil Kumar experimented with the low and dark lighting. Even now, People believe that the whole film is shot with natural lighting and no external lights are used but the fact is Senthil Kumar’s brilliant use of lights made the film to achieve that look.
It would be a crime not to mention the song “Chitapata chinukulu” song from the film. The placement, the lyrics which have a deep meaning, the soulful music and one of its kind picturisation everything is just brilliant in this film and makes it remain fresh even when we watch it now.
Another reason why Aithe is brilliant is its clever way of carrying the suspense. In the beginning of the film mafia leader, Irfan tells his subordinates to arrange 4 people to hijack the flight and help him escape from Hyderabad and till the interval of the film we believe that our lead characters are those four people who are going to work for Irfan Khan for money. The way Chandrasekhar yeleti carries the suspense shows his brilliance and this is also a reason why Aithe is considered as an intelligent film.
Ideally, Aithe is a serious thriller but the way the director injects the humour and makes it situational is another intelligent thing Chandrasekhar yeleti does, especially the athyakshari scene in the flight is hilarious and very well written.
As discussed earlier Chandrasekhar Yeleti followed all the rules of screenwriting perfectly and that is what made the empty halls to get filled in no time. This film is also an example how a well-written film can do wonders even without a good budget and huge star cast. Let me give you an example from Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.
Hero’s Journey is a screenplay structure identified by an American scholar Joseph Campbell and it’s a highly recommended structure for filmmakers and screenwriters.
The hero, uneasy, uncomfortable or unaware, is introduced sympathetically so the audience can identify with the situation or dilemma. The hero is shown against a background of the environment, heredity, and personal history. Some kind of polarity in the hero’s life is pulling in different directions and causing stress.
In Aithe, we are introduced to the characters and their world, We are introduced to their friendship the small financial conflicts in their lives etc.
Something shakes up the situation, either from external pressures or from something rising up from deep within, so the hero must face the beginnings of change.
After we are introduced to their world, we know that the main conflict in their life is money, one day, Kumar asks their friends to get involved in a drug smuggling in order to make easy money, This is a call to adventure, As Joseph Campbell says due to the external pressures the hero must face the beginnings of the change.
The hero feels the fear of the unknown and tries to turn away from the adventure, however briefly. Alternately, another character may express the uncertainty and danger ahead.
After listening to Kumar, Ramu immediately refuses the call, He scolds Kumar and says that he can’t walk on a wrong path.
The hero comes across a seasoned traveller of the worlds who gives him or her training, equipment, or advice that will help on the journey. Or the hero reaches within to a source of courage and wisdom.
Now, Ramu should have some motivation and a desperation which leads it to the kidnap of Irfan Khan, The very next scene after he refuses Kumar’s call is the scene where Aditi’s father is hospitalized and needs to get operated immediately for which they need to pay a huge amount of money. This is the scene where Ramu gets desperate and gets the courage to earn money even by walking on a wrong path. The mid close shot of Ramu shows that courage in his face and we understand that now he is ready to do anything. This stage is a very important one in every film. Let’s assume that Kumar has proposed Ramu to kidnap Irfan Khan for the prize money, If Ramu accepts it then and there itself, the film looks flat.
At the end of Act One, the hero commits to leaving the Ordinary World and entering a new region or condition with unfamiliar rules and values
We all know what happens next, Our four protagonists kidnap Irfan Khan, This is the end of act one and they leave their ordinary worlds and enter into a new world.
Aithe matches with all the 12 stages of Hero’s journey but we have analysed 5 stages to tell you how well structured the film is, We will be back with another detailed article on Hero’s journey analysing all the 12 stages with the help of a blockbuster film.
Planting and Pay off:
Planting and payoff are another screenwriting tool which helps the film to move forward. In Aithe, Aditi’s character is introduced as a painter who paints her father’s young age look. Chandrasekhar Yeleti plants this in the introduction of Aditi and pays it off later.
Another example which shows that Aithe is a perfectly structured screenplay is its midpoint.
Ideally, A screenplay is divided into two parts and a midpoint, which is an event that changes the dynamics of the film is supposed to divide the film into two parts. So, The midpoint should come exactly in the middle. Aithe’s runtime is 2 hours 6 minute, Look what happens at 1 hour 3 minutes.
Irfan Khan is kidnapped.
There is no hard and fast rule of placing the midpoints but this is how it is supposed to be and many films follow. You can check any good Hollywood movie.
A film simply doesn’t become a classic like Aithe, There is a lot of hard work involved and rules which need to be followed.
We are lucky to have Chandrasekhar yeleti in our Telugu cinema and this Analysis is dedicated to him and his fans.
ARTICLE BY PRANEETH PRATTIPATI