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What are the basic and minimal qualities of a director?
A director should have complete knowledge on all the 24 crafts in the film-making. He should be well aware of making use of them appropriately.
What is direction?
A director should have command on what he is going to explain. He should be able to convey what he is going to present on the screen? Why he is showing it and at the same time he should convince not only himself but also the audiences with what he is presenting on the screen in a correct way. You see… we could present a scene with just one dialogue which we can't explain properly in 100 shots. Likewise, what we can't convey in 100 dialogues could be explained with one shot. What should be explained in a scene and how a scene should be presented is just commonsense and it is called direction.
You prefer small films in most cases? Why?
My career began with small films. After giving seven to eight hits, Nagarjuna gave me a call and asked me to direct 'Varasudu'. If we direct star heroes' films and if the film turns out to be a big hit, the credit would go to the hero and we (technicians) will just get 20 per cent credit. Moreover, while making films with big heroes, we should keep their image in mind. But, in case of small budget films, I could get job satisfaction. If the film turns out to be a hit, the director could enjoy the entire credit for the success. Moreover, we will have enough freedom in small budget films. While I am doing 'Alluda Majaakaa', I also directed 'Aame'. While directing 'Varasudu', I also did 'Alibaba, Aradozen Dongalu'. It is small budget films that earned me the present stature.
Tell us about 'Jambalakidi Pamba' film?
When I am working as an associate with Jandhyala, I penned a story 'Aade Magaithe' and sent it to 'Andhra Jyothi' weekly magazine. Though the theme and story is good, they rejected it stating that the language was not up to the mark. Generally, we used to say, 'If I were in your place…' and that was the inspiration behind that subject. I prepared the complete script and gave it to Jandhyala. Though he said okay, he expressed the doubt whether the audiences could accept if the entire film runs on the same theme, instead of restricting it to one or two scenes. He chose to use the script in three scenes in his film 'Mogudu Pellalu' and the audiences enjoyed those scenes well. After I turned director and started making films on my own and produced 'Jambalakidi Pamba'. When I screened the film for a preview, several audiences left the theatre in the middle of the film. However, I had complete confidence on the script, and hence I personally took it as a challenge and released the film on my own. Let me tell you one thing here. Movie Moghul Dr D Ramanaidu complimented me after watching my film 'Sitaratnamgari Abbayi'. He spoke to me for about 30 minutes over phone and showered compliments. The same Ramanaidu chided me after watching 'Jambalakidi Pamba'. However, after a few days, he realised that the film was a hit and congratulated me again. He says, 'I am very sorry. I am wrong'. That was his affection and humaneness.
Tell us about 'Suryavamsh'?
Right from my childhood, I am a fan of Amitabh Bachchan. Though I don't know Hindi, I used to watch his films for a number of times. My ambition is to take a photograph with him. During the shooting of 'Indrudu Chandrudu' of Kamal Hassan at AVM Studios, he came to meet Kamal Hassan. Then I had a chance to have a photograph with him. Unfortunately, the film reel got exhausted at that time, I could not get the photograph. I cursed the photographer for about a year about his mistake. One day, I got a phone call from Padmalaya Studios with an offer to direct a Hindi film. When Dr D Ramanaidu asked me to do his film 'Prema Khaidi' in Hindi, I refused his offer saying that I don't know Hindi. I conveyed the same to Padmalaya Studios as well. But, they told me that the hero would be Amitabh Bachchan. Then I kept a condition that I would like to talk to him beforehand for about five minutes. After meeting Amitabh, I straight told him, 'Amit Ji, I don't know Hindi. Even my English is also average. This is my position. Suggest me whether I could step forward or not?' The great man patted me saying, 'It is not the language but the meaning and the presentation which is very important'. His encouragement gave me super strength. Really, I was able to complete the film shooting as if I am working with comedians like LB Sriram and Brahmanandam. Our heroes should feel ashamed by comparing themselves with Amitabh Bachchan. He will enquire about the next day scene, before leaving the shooting spot after 'pack-up'. He will be very punctual for shooting and present himself at the set in time. Working with him is a lifetime experience. I am very much satisfied for doing a film with a great artiste like Amitabh Bachchan in my life.'
It seems a woman political leader spoke very badly about you in an interview some time ago. Can you please explain about it?
Yes. She spoke very badly about the film 'Aaruguru Pativratalu'. She alleged that it is not a film at all. For her, 'Aame, Aayanaku Iddaru, Thaali, Kanyadanam…' all these are not films at all. For such people even 'Mayabazaar' is also not a good film. Basically, she doesn't like men. Because of her and her utterances in the interview, I suffered about Rs 1 crore loss. I just kept quiet because she spoke before the media and condemning her words is not worthy. If she comes before me and criticise again, I am ready to give her a fitting reply.
You generally prefer to bring out comedy films? Any specific reason?
Bringing out a comedy film is not that easy. My first comedy film is 'Appula Appa Rao'. Whenever I start making a comedy film, I would be very cautious about the script. I do homework for about seven to eight months to prepare the script in a professional way. I have got a special image among the audiences about my films, especially if they belonged to comedy genre. I don't want to spoil my image. At the same time, I don't want to bring out the comedy films alone, as there is a problem of monotony. Now I am directing 'Pellayindi Kaani'. After this film, I will bring out a comedy movie. I am sure that my current film would be my career best. If we want to bring the women to the theatres by taking them off from the televisions, the film should be very attractive. Did they not come and watch 'Bommarillu'. Same would be the case with 'Pellayindi Kaanee…'. Even if Dawood Ibrahim watches the movie, his eyes would also turn wet. Not just tragedy and sentiment, the film also had several other elements. I am proud to say that the film would earn a very good name to the entire unit.
Using foreign locations has become a fad these days. But you chose to shoot the songs in Kashmir? Why?
Yes you are true. We too thought of going abroad to shoot shots. But the story of the film runs in village backdrop. In order to maintain the nativity, we shot for about 12 days in Araku. When we were there, one of my friends Kumar, who was a best friend to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, called me up and asked me to shoot my film in Kashmir. I went to Kashmir for the first time. It is really a heaven on the earth. I had so far toured about 30 countries. But I did never see a beautiful place like Kashmir. It is unfair to blame that there will be no protection for the members of the film unit. There are about 8.60 lakh military personnel, police and other service organisations, who would safeguard us. The tourism department and the government would assist us in as many ways.
Tell us about your sons, Rajesh and Naresh?
I will tell you about Naresh first. I made it very clear to him that all the upcoming heroes always wanted to be a Mega Star. If he wanted to be like that he would be the 61st person in the queue. Instead, no one is trying to be a comedy hero like Rajendra Prasad. So I advised him to try his best on those lines. He started trekking the path which I advised him. At the same time, he proved himself as a good artiste with films like 'Nenu' and 'Pranam'. He proved that he had the talent to do any kind of character. I did not even expect that he would earn so much name and fame in such a short period. In a bid to break the monotony by doing comedy films continuously, he started making variety roles. He is playing a mentally challenged person's role in 'Pellayindi Kaanee…'. Likewise, he is doing a negative role in Rajiv Kanakala's film. Naresh is poor in studies right from the beginning, but had good passion towards cinema. He knows everything about direction and camera. When it comes to Rajesh, he is also a good artiste. But he failed to get adequate break in the absence of a good subject. Though I produced two films with him as hero, those two his went into my account, but he personally failed to achieve any breakthrough. I am planning two more films with Rajesh as hero. I am confident that he would get the expected break with at least one of them.
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Thank you for you too for giving me this opportunity. Greetings to all.