The Telugu film industry stepped up its pace of work post lockdown and this year, a number of productions are underway. There’s no dearth of theatrical releases and new projects continue to be announced.

Actor Chiranjeevi unveiled the trailer of his friend and actor Nagarjuna Akkineni’s new film, Wild Dog, directed by Ahishor Solomon.

Produced by Matinee Entertainment, Wild Dog will release in theatres on April 2, 2021. Inspired by incidents that unfolded in the aftermath of the blasts in Hyderabad in 2007, the film will see Nagarjuna as ACP Vijay Varma, on the trail of those who masterminded the blasts. The film also stars Dia Mirza and Saiyami Kher.

Earlier this week, the makers of Pawan Kalyan’s new film unveiled the title and the scale of the production. Titled Hari Hara Veeramallu, the film directed by Krish Jagarlamudi is produced by A M Ratnam. Nidhi Aggerwal plays the female lead. The budget is an estimated ₹150crore and the team plans to release the film in theatres in January 2022, for Sankranti.

In a statement, Krish revealed that the story is about a “heroic outlaw”. The period drama is set in the 17th century and gigantic sets of the Charminar, Red Fort and Machilipatnam port have been created for the film.

The unit plans to wrap up the filming by July and the visual effects will be done under the supervision of Ben Lock, who has worked on Hollywood films such as Aquaman, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, among many others.

The crew includes cinematographer V S Gnana Shekar, production designer Rajeevan Nambiar and music composer MM Keeravani.

NTR will host the contest Evaru Meelo Koteeswarulu, which will air soon on Gemini Television. In 2017, the actor hosted the first season of Bigg Boss Telugu Season 1 and garnered wide appreciation. He returns as the host for a different show, Evaru Meelo Koteeswarulu, which was earlier titled Meelo Evaru Koteeswarudu and was hosted by Nagarjuna and Chiranjeevi, telecast on Star MAA. NTR unveiled the concept of the new show through a short video.

Written and directed by Ahishor Solomon, Wild Dog was in the making long before the team announced the film with its first poster in December 2020. It stars Nagarjuna as NIA officer Vijay Varma and Saiyami Kher as a RAW (Research & Analysis Wing) agent.

“We completed filming the investigation portions in Hyderabad’s Old City, Mumbai and Pune prior to lockdown. In November, we filmed in Manali and Nepal,” says the actor.

After the blasts

Nagarjuna vividly recalls the shock when the blasts at Lumbini Park, Gokul Chaat and near Konark Theatre brought Hyderabad to its knees: “I used to frequent Gokul Chaat in the early 2000s, for late-night paani puri. My car would be parked nearby and I would walk in front of the chaat centre. Two days after the blasts, I visited the place and was devastated by what I saw.”

A story inspired by the aftermath of these incidents, says the actor, prompted him to consider the script. Ahishor Solomon who directed the Hindi thriller John Day (2013), first met Nagarjuna to narrate the story of Oopiri (Thozha in Tamil, co-starring Karthi): “He was a writer associated with [director] Vamshi Paidipally and I liked how he narrated Oopiri. When he came to me with a well-researched story for Wild Dog, I was confident that he would direct it well.”

Wild Dog is in a similar genre to the Hindi film Uri: The Surgical Strike (2019), which Nagarjuna says is among his favourite films in recent years: “It’s hard to tell what is fiction and what is real; I liked how they wove in the family drama.”

How much of Wild Dog is fictional? “It’s hard to say, we don’t even know of the NIA officers. One of my dialogues in the film is about how these officers are unsung heroes. If they fail on duty, they might languish in a foreign prison or be executed. If they return successfully, their identities are still kept a secret so they can go on their next mission. Solomon has done his research and I liked the script.”