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at the Frontiers of Cinema
CSCS - Centre for the Study of Culture and Society

Bhadrachalam, an Indian Martial Arts film

Bhadrachalam (N. Shankar, 2001) is a rare instance of a martial arts film in Telugu. Featuring Srihari, known as 'Real Star' in the lead, the film is remarkably truthful to the themes of the seventies and eighties Hong Kong martial arts films. The film revolves around a Taekwondo master's search for an ideal student. The master's future student, Bhadrachalam (Srihari), initially refuses to move out of his village to fulfil his destiny. He is soon forced to move to the city but before he can meet his master, he is manipulated into becoming a gangster by two petty crooks. Injured critically in a streetfight, he is taken to the same hospital where the master is to undergo heart surgery. The rest of film deals with the training of Bhadrachalam and his victory over the petty villains from his country but more importantly the racially white Korean fighter in the Asia level Taekwondo championships.

The following selection from the publicity of the film is indicative of the ways in which the film reworks the martial arts film. The film borrows directly from the Jean Claude Van Damme starrer Kickboxer (Mark DiSalle, David Worth, 1989).

Vaartha, 2nd December 2001. Advertisement announcing release date of the film. Vaartha, 5th December 2001. "Releasing tomorrow" and "Featuring 'Real Star'."
Vaartha, 6th December 2001.
"Releasing today."
Vaartha, 16th December 2001. "Hollywood Action on Tollywood Screen."
Vaartha, 20th December 2001.
"Successful 3rd week."
Vaartha, 7th December 2001. "See today" and "Featuring 'Real Star'."

Number One, 29th January 2002.
The 50th and 100th days are important landmarks in a film's run. In anticipation of the 50 day run of Bhadrachalam, there was a special advertising supplement of the film magazine Number One. The advertisements have congratulatory messages from distributors of different territories.