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A story in every scene: Hanu Raghavapudi (Exclusive Interview)

IndiaGlitz [Tuesday, August 21, 2012]

An avant garde filmmaker seems to have finally arrived.  His name is Hanu Raghavapudi.  If the emotions of a short film on AIDS that he made in 2005 arrested Rajamouli, it goes to prove the captivating power of this newbie.

Andala Rakshasi was released to mixed response, but the film is on its way to become one of the surprising hits of the year.  In his interview with IndiaGlitz, the director talks about what went into conceiving the film, writing the characters, selecting the actors, and more.


I thus began my journey..

I joined Chandrasekhar Yeleti as an assistant in the year 2001.  I worked under him for all his films. He was the only director with whom I worked.

Conceiving Andala Rakshasi

I started working on the script from December 2010.  The dialogue version was ready in 15 days.  It was never my dream project.  I have always liked to write stories imbued in crime or adventure. I wrote Andala.. because the circumstances forced me to pen a triangular love story.

Inspiration for the characters

I have always liked to write poetry.  A line written by me many years back was the trigger to pen the characters after three phenomena - Earth (Mithuna), Sun (Surya), and Moon (Goutham).

Innocence, innocence and innocence

The raison d' etre of the film is the thrum of innocence.  Love requires intelligence.  In Andala Rakshasi, love is told through the language of innocence.  In the long process of evolution, humanity left behind many elements that were not necessary for its physical well-being.  Likewise, it has lost the quality of innocence.  I needed to set the film in 1992 because innocent characters would have looked like aliens in this time and age.  Once I had this idea of projecting innocence in my mind, I had no option but to set the film in a bygone era.

A drama basically

My film is basically a drama.  When everybody is being intelligent, it is nothing but a drama.

Comparisons are not right

It is not right to say that the film was inspired by Mouna Ragam or Gitanjali.  A wife undergoing trauma because of the painful memories of her now-dead lover was first penned by a Bengali writer in the 1950s itself.  Even Mani Ratnam's Mouna Ragam was partly inspired by a failed Tamil film which had been released a few years back.  I don't have it in me to make a film like Gitanjali.  The greenery, Mani's langue were there, but the film is otherwise my own vision.

Element of intelligence

Take any of Mani's films, all the characters are intelligent - be it an auto driver or an IAS officer, they talk intelligently.  I have always liked this element in his films.

The influence of Missamma

The biggest inspiration for writing Mithuna was Savithri's character in Missamma (incidentally, the film's first title was Andala Rakshasi!).  I feel that is the best character that has ever been written. She exudes aggressiveness and innocence at once.  Mithuna, representing Earth, exuded the same traits in my film.  She is always preoccupied and burned with a thought (intensely at that).  If people are comparing her with Girija (of Gitanjali), it is because they have forgotten all about Missamma.  I ask you, what difference do we find between Bhanu Priya in Swarna Kamalam and Girija in Gitanjali, except in their social status?  They were both aggressive, individualistic and had their ideology.

Finding my Mithuna, Surya, and Goutham

The toughest job, I knew, was finding the right actress to play Mithuna.  But, thankfully, it was easy when I saw Lavanya in Mumbai.  I met her through a common friend (Chirag), and when I saw her conversing with her friends, I knew I found my Mithuna.  I found shades of Mithuna's personality in her.  And as I said, she became a creative person to pull it off.  As of Naveen, I have known him since 2008.  I educated him about the character and made him get into the skin.  Rahul had done an ad.

I need to select individuals whose personalities reflected the sensibilities of my characters.  Insofar as extracting fine performances from Lavanya, Rahul and Naveen, I think I succeeded as a director.  I must add that even they were creative partners.  The script was of that kind that everyone needed to be creative, to do their homework and proper groundwork.  It is a mature love story and so, everyone needed to come with the right mindset.  From the first day till the last day, they were there with me.

Rehearsals were important

I made them rehearse all the important scenes before we went on the floors.  By the time they were shooting for the film, they knew the edit order and were perfectly comfortable.

A story in each scene

There is a story in every scene.  People are probably not used to watching such heavy story-telling dose.  I am introspecting on this now.

The film is haunting them

On the first day, I did receive some disappointing feedback.  However, the film has grown on the audience slowly.  It haunted many of them after a day and they are coming to the theatres to watch it again.  I am surprised that Andala..  is getting repeat audience.  I watched the movie yesterday at Gokul.  They were whistling and cheering during many scenes and at a number of lines.  I am very happy.

Girls are liking Goutham

Most of the girls are liking Goutham's character.  I am not sure if I will ever be able to write a character like that in future.  Girls are relating themselves to Mithuna.  The conversations, household scenes, etc are being liked by them.

The climax was true to the script

The climax may be difficult to settle in the case of some.  But given my convictions, I could not have written it differently.  I had no other option but to be true to the script.  It would have been wrong to be gimmicky so as to dish out a distorted climax.  A writer should not misuse his liberty.  People should enter the hall with inner silence.  If they understand the difference between intelligence and innocence in love, they will definitely like it.

My next films

In another 2-3 days, my next project will be finalised.  I had narrated many stories to some producers and heroes before Andala Rakshasi's release.  I am happy that many are appreciating my efforts.  They have recognised my talent.

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