The film revolves around the happy-go-lucky Murari whose Zamindar ancestors have been victims of Goddess Durga's generational curse since the mid 19th century. Every 48 years the Royal Family's heirs lose their life in their early 30's due to this curse. No matter, how many religious rituals are being performed since ages, the family losses their Heirs. In this generation, Murari is the one to be succumbed by the curse. The film deals with Murari's redemption to overcome the curse through his spiritual will, and through his grand mother's self sacrifice. The film was released on 16 February 2001 to positive reviews, and became a cult classic in Telugu cinema.
Set up in the 18th century, during Amavasya, the dark moon lunar phase, a greedy, and lavish alcoholic zamindar insults principal Deity Durga and attempts to steal the Panchaloha idol from the Royal Family's Temple in a state of inebriation so that he can repay his huge debt to the British officers. Subsequently, he along with the British officer's are killed by the enraged Goddess Durga. The goddess infuses a mythical curse on the family's heirs, and every 48 years on the day of Diwali, one male heir from the Royal Family is succumbed to death. The present year 2001 denotes end of another 48 years, and Murari (Mahesh Babu), the Grandson of Sabari whose husband died 48 years back because of the curse, is expected to be the next heir to be succumbed to the curse. Murari lives with his father Sattipandu, Sister-in-law Gopi, brothers Sreenayya, Baachi and Soori and their respective wives and kids along with Sabari. Murari is named after Sabari's husband and thus is called with utmost respect by all family members except Gopi who calls him either by his name or as Kanayya. She treats him like her son and even decides to go for abortion clandestinely so that she would not neglect him once she has her own offspring. Thus since his childhood Murari considers Gopi as his mother since his mother died giving birth to him.
In another village, a beautiful city-bred Agricultural student called Vasundhara lives along with her big combined family and is the cynosure of all eyes and affection in the family. Sattipandu and Vasundhara's father Chanti are blood related and actually Gopi is Chanti's adopted daughter. These two families are separated because of a feud at Gopi's marriage because of Chanti's evil son Rambabu. Every year, Gopi is allowed to go there without any escort from her husband and when a tussle happens regarding this, Sreenayya apologizes and tries to patch up with her. At that point, Murari comes to know about Gopi's sacrifice for him when he secretly listens their conversation. For the first time, Gopi gets an escort in the form of Murari after this incident. There after few incidents, Murari falls in love with Vasundhara but leaves the house because of a land dispute with Rambabu with Gopi staying back there for few more days. Vasundhara tries to convey her love but she had no chance and returns to Hyderabad.
Back at Murari's home town, the temple priest Seshayya comes to know that Murari is going to be the victim of Devi's curse but he does not disclose the same to Sabari who goes for a pilgrimage. Meanwhile with assurance from his father, Murari goes to Hyderabad and unites with Vasundhara. They go back to Murari's house where Vasundhara lies that she came for Agricultural research. Slowly the couple gets the nod from all the members of both of the families. Meanwhile Sabari, who returns from the pilgrimage, upon being informed by Seshayya that Murari would be subjected to death by Devi this year, refuses for the marriage. Rambabu announces marriage of Vasundhara with her cousin Bullabbayi that day and when informed by Chanti, Murari tries to quit the temple to save her but is stopped by Sabari. Then she reveals the dark secret that is kept under wraps about Durga's curse to her family when they all are at the temple offering prayers for redemption. Murari promises to Sabari that he would come alive along with Vasundhara to complete his Abhisheka.
Murari goes to Vasundhara's place and saves her from Bullabbayi but once they are about to leave, Murari is fatally stabbed by Bullabbayi unintentionally and thus runs away on seeing Murari bleeding. In extreme pain, Murari realizes this as Goddess Durga's ploy and with all strength he manages to come back to the temple along with Vasundhara. He manages to convince everyone that he is safe and sound as he covered his wounds with soil and a cloth but Soori notices blood stains. Before he could say anything, Murari tells him to call an ambulance immediately and takes part in the rituals despite extreme pain and internal bleeding. By the time the rituals of Abhisheka, Yajna, and Arti end, the blood of Murari spills over the Holy Idol invoking the soul spirit, and as a result Murari loses his consciousness and is in critical condition. Seeing this, Sabari drowns herself in the holy river as a sacrifice to the Goddess, and saves Murari's life. Murari revives and marries Vasundhara.Mahesh Babu as Murari
Sonali Bendre as Vasudhara
Lakshmi as Gopakka
Prasad Babu as Sreenu
Sukumari as Sabari
Kaikala Satyanarayana as Satti Pandu
Gollapudi Maruthi Rao as Chanti
Annapurna as Chanti's Wife
Sudha as Ammulu
Sivaji Raja as Soori
Anitha Chowdary as Soori's Wife
Chinna as Baachi
Hema as Baachi's Wife
Raghu Babu as Rambabu
Ravi Babu as Bullabbayi
Lakshmipati as Vaali
Prakash Raj (guest appearance)
M. S. Narayana (guest appearance)
Naga Babu (guest appearance)
Achyuth (guest appearance)
When Krishna Vamsi visited a temple in a village, he came to know about a very famous person there whose three sons died under suspicious circumstances at regular intervals 4 years back. When he spoke to the local people, they said that the big man killed a worker from lower cadre by hiring some goons and the wife of that killed person came to this person's house and cursed that all his three sons would be dying with in six months. After listening to them, he was intrigued by all these incidents. As a part of his research, he visited temples and observed the architectures, sculptors and also read books like Yogi's Autobiography etc. He said "I met highly qualified people like Sirivennela Sitaramasastri to enhance my knowledge in various things. I also studied the visions of our ancestors, who during their time have designed things like missiles, television, aircrafts [sic] etc" in an interview. He added "We always have an answer for any questions that start with 'what', 'how' and 'when'. But we do not have any reason or answer for questions starting with 'why'. I had this kind of backdrop in my mind and wanted to make a film. When a film in the combination of Mahesh Babu and Krishna Vamsi was announced, I though I should make all those mystic questions get a representation in this film." He wanted to incorporate Telugu culture and tradition with a festive mood and thus used a joint-family backdrop.
Influenced by Hrishikesh Mukherjee's 1971 film Anand, Krishna Vamsi wanted to kill Mahesh Babu's character in this film as he felt that except Anand, no other film introduced a hero who would be dying very soon. During the story discussions, when he said the same to his team, none accepted. He aimed to go in reverse trend and form the film's screenplay as story writers used to create a problem and then introduced the hero to solve it in Telugu cinema. After meeting Mahesh Babu, Krishna Vamsi decided to use the story of Krishna for the family part. He clarified that it was not a true adaptation of Lord Krishna's life but he got inspired by the characterizations in Krishna's story. According to Krishna Vamsi, the death points Murari faces in the film are inspired from the attacks of rakshasa on Krishna and the fatal attack in the climax was inspired from Lord Krishna's death in the hands of a Yadava hunter. Sri Sita Ramachandra Swamy temple at Ammapally near Shamshabad was selected for filming key scenes related to the curse part of the story and the temple gained prominence after the film's release. A strong belief in the film industry emerged that a film with scenes shot at the temple will do well at the box-office.
Mahesh Babu confessed that this film was a crucial one in his career and quoted the role of Murari as his favorite role in 2012. Sonali Bendre made her debut in Telugu with this film and it was her first collaboration with Krishna Vamsi. Lakshmi, Kaikala Satyanarayana, Prasad Babu, Gollapudi Maruthi Rao, Deekshitulu and Raghu Babu were a part of the film's principal cast. Ravi Babu played a negative role in the film. Actress Sukumari was selected to play the character of Sabari, Mahesh Babu's grandmother in the film which was one of her widely remembered role in Telugu cinema. Veteran film actor and religious guru Dhulipala Seetarama Sastry made a cameo appearance which was his last film.
Regarding Mahesh's character in the film, Krishna Vamsi said "During that time, I met Mahesh Babu a couple of times. He has such a 'mugdha manohara mohana roopam'. I was impressed to such an extent that I wanted to add 'Krishna tatvam' to that film, as 'mugdha manohara mohana roopam' is the first quality of Lord Krishna. Just like the way Krishna had herd of cows, hero in this film had an animal (elephant). I wanted to create the atmosphere of Brindavanam. That's the reason why Mahesh is shown to be moving along with and surrounded by girls/women and kids". Sonali Bendre's characterization in the first half was based on Satyabhama and her characterization in the second half was based on Rukmini. Because of that, Krishna Vamsi incorporated a scene similar to Rukmini Kalyanam (Lord Krishna takes Rukhmini away from her place and marries her without the knowledge of her people) in the second half where Murari's character saves Vasundhara from her evil brother and takes away her from her village to marry her. Lakshmi character was based on Yasoda while Prasad Babu and Kaikala Satyanarayana's roles were partially inspired from Balarama's character. According to Krishna Vamsi, the other Yadavas in the film were the brothers and family members of hero while Ravi Babu's character was a mix of characterizations of Sisupala, Karna and Duryodhana. Two separated joint families like that of Pandavas and Kauravas were created though they are on good terms unlike the way portrayed in Lord Krishna's story. Prakash Raj played a cameo as the evil zamindar who was the first victim of the curse while Deekshitulu played the role of the temple's priest named Seshayya.
The music and background score was composed by Mani Sharma. This album consisted of 7 tracks. The soundtrack featured singers S.P.Balasubrahmanyam, K.S.Chitra, Jikki, Shankar Mahadevan, Udit Narayan, S. P. B. Charan, Sunitha Upadrashta, Anuradha Sriram and Harini. The lyrics were written by Veturi Sundararama Murthy, Sirivennela Sitarama Sastry, Chandrabose and Suddala Ashok Teja.
The film received positive reviews. idlebrain.com gave a review stating "The credit for the success or failure of this film should go to the Krishna Vamsi. This film is bound get a little bit of dissent from the viewers of C class areas. But, this film is classic masterpiece for the class audience and highly recommended for the Mahesh and Krishnavamsi fans. This film will be a good fare for the people if they watch this film with no expectations. Just watch this film to experience Krishna Vamsi paint the silver screen with his classic strokes" and rated the film 3.5/5. fullhyd.com gave a review stating "Murari starts off on a good note with the desecration of the temple by Prakash Raj for money, and builds up an interesting story as to how three members of their family cursed by Devi Maa give up their lives. But the story soon loses its steam as we know for sure the sacrificial lamb. Murari is a typical Hum Aapke Hain Kaun kind of film with all the fun and laughter and the goodness among the people. It is an okay movie and if at all there is anything appealing it is the cinematography, which is good if not brilliant" and rated the film 5/10.Nandi Awards
Nandi Award for Best Feature Film (Silver)
Nandi Award for Best Character Actress – Lakshmi
Nandi Special Jury Award – Mahesh Babu