My first ever memory of Hyderabad is someone telling me about Ramoji Film City. This was when I was a kid and I wondered how a single place could accommodate palaces, streets, houses, Eastern/Western style architecture, gardens, farms, desserts and all. My little mind couldn’t fathom it.
The first film City that I would visit was not Ramoji, but the Film City in Mumbai, which is rather a small Enterprise compared to Ramoji. That is managed by the Maharashtra Government and headed by an IAS officer. As expected, it did not amaze me much.
However, Ramoji was a different experience. As we entered the Film City, we were ushered into the premium lounge. Our tour was premium tour which had better experiences on offer. We were taken to the forest show where a director was taking us through the Film making process. A lady from the audience was chosen to be the actress in the reenactment of the horse chase scene in Sholay (Basanti)
Once this was done, we were taken through the different rides, other cultural showed, a tour of the different film sets on offer etc. They had houses with different elevations on each side, streets in South Indian style, North Indian, European, etc etc.
These days however the print attraction is nothing other than the set of the Indian giant movie, Baahubali. Usually once the movie is done, the sets of disbanded and the structures moved to storage. However, in case of Baahubali, given the huge popularity, the leadership at Ramoji decided to keep the set for public viewership. As the number of people who throng the set process, it was not a wrong decision.
A one man enterprise which became an empire, Ramoji Rao’s story is strife with so many narratives. One Telugu friend of mine considers him an inspiration, while another told me how the government and he conspired to grab the land in which the current film City is located. Spanning 2000 actress, the land was given to Ramoji for peanuts because of his closednesd to Telugu Desam Party, he fumed. Another friend quipped that despite all the investments, the film city was revenue deficit and not cutting a profit.
Whatever way you spin the film city story, you can’t come out of the place without amazement about the vision of it’s developer and art directors. Compared to how other film cities in India have managed their property, Ramoji Film city says another story. If not for that, a young kid, sitting at distant Kerala, at a time when communication medias were not so omnipresent, would not have wondered, how a single place could house both a Railway station, airport and a beggars house. That is how Ramoji film city brings everything together.