How did you get the chance to direct this film?
Manoj is a good friend of mine. One day while we were chatting, he said “You write subjects for many artists. But you never said anything about a script made for me.” At that time I told him about one of my favorite subjects, and kept the script aside saying that no one will be interested in doing such a kind of movie. He insisted to know why no one will do that, and wanted to hear the story line. I narrated the whole thing in 15 minutes to him, and told that no one will come forth to do these kinds of stories. Immediately he confirmed that we are starting this venture, and thus ‘Nenu Meeku Telusa?’ evolved.
Did you consult with Dr Mohan Babu about the script?
One day I got a phone call from Manoj, saying his dad wants to meet me. I went to their home. I was a bit nervous when I saw him, because it was the first time that I am seeing him personally. He didn’t ask me anything about the subject or script. He just asked my name and qualification. Then he enquired about my parents and my native place. Right after that he gave his consent saying ‘You are going to make a film on my banner.”
After starting the film, did you make any changes in the script or character of Manoj? Or did you receive any advice from Mohan Babu for changes.
We did not change anything about the role. In fact I didn’t even give the script to Manoj, as a part of featuring his role. The hero suffers a short term memory loss, and obviously his interaction with other characters will be impulsive. Manoj is only aware of the outline of his role. When you watch the movie you will observe that most of the time he will be wondering and responding to the characters around. We have planned it in such a way that it happens in a spontaneous way. So, it is a kind of method acting we used in this film. Obviously, we did not make any changes in the script. More over Manoj is a director’s actor; he will go along with the directors’ views.
Did Mohan Babu make a visit to the shooting spot any time?
He never made a visit to the shooting spot. He was not aware of the story or subject of the film, not even a dialogue from it. He told me clearly at the very beginning, that he is giving me a chance to make a film, and wants it to be innovatively made. He also said that he is going to watch it only after the first copy is prepared.
What is new about this film?
No one has attempted a subject of this kind till now. Even if only Telugu films are taken into consideration, no one has done such a kind of character as far as my knowledge is concerned. According to me, the film itself is innovative.
Movies like ‘Gajini’ & ‘Satyabhama’ kind of resembles a similar story line.
Look, there are about 50 odd films made on the subject line of a sincere police, but all of them is not the same as one another. Similarly our film is also unique in it’s own way. I have told at the very beginning of this film, that not even a single scene you watch in this is a copy. If anybody can prove this from any English, Hindi, Telugu or Malayalam films, we will arrange a free Singapore trip for them.
Tell us about the way you have portrayed Manoj in the flick.
Watch it on the screen. I think it is very stylish and he is looking good with his built body. We are showcasing him in 4 different styles. I told him jokingly that I want a specific look in the body for every phase of the character, while explaining the characterization. He said he will do it. And he did it with all the determination & perfection, looking different at various phases. You can watch it in the first song of the movie.
How far Manoj has succeeded in performing different body languages?
He did it perfectly well. I think he followed 100 percent of the instructions given by the director. We had a good rapport and he understood perfectly what I wanted for this character. You will observe his real performance once the movie comes out. He did live up to the expectations of the director.
Is there any specific reason for choosing Hollywood action directors for the film?
We have chosen the Hollywood action directors to choreograph some of the action sequences in this film. Our cameraman Suneel K Reddy has been a long time ally to them at Los-Angeles. He has worked as a cinematographer in America. Also editor Naveen, everyone knows that he was the editor for films like ‘Rakhi’, ‘Chandamama’ and ‘Danger’. It is Manoj’s idea to choose Hollywood technicians for this film. For seven months Manoj has learnt stunts and various other things from those people. Tim and Strom were his friends there and Manoj himself offered them to work in this film.
What is the importance of the heroine’s characters?
We have two heroines in the film Sneha Ullal and Riya Sen, there is nothing called exposing in our film. Usually in a movie casting Riya Sen, there will be a beach song but we did nothing like that. In fact there is no scope for such scenes in this film. Actually there needs to be a situation, like a fantasy song between the hero and heroine, to find space for such things. But basically our hero suffers from loss of memory, so there is no scope for fantasy at all, and we have deliberately made the movie void of such songs. This is another reason why our songs are unique along with the innovative concept. We did not use any sets for songs which were all featured in natural locations.
How far has Achu’s music helped the film?
Achu is the son of popular Malayalam music director Rajamani. He was associated with MM Keeravani in a few films. Although he is new, he has composed very good music. We are getting a good response to the audio that was released recently. Following this he agreed to compose music for 4-films. Now he seems to be so busy that I myself cannot ask him to work for me.
What are the highlights for this film, according to you?
Action sequences and four songs; I believe that no one has ever made such songs in Telugu Cinema.
The publicity designs are uniquely made for this film. Whose idea was it?
I basically hail from an ad background. Earlier, I have designed similar ones for ‘Danger’ but it did not reach. I was not sure if they will be accepted here. However, it was first Manoj’s idea of creating the designs uniquely for publicity. When we were at US, he showed me a magazine, and hinted that the poster designs must be stylish like that. He also suggested that we should make animated posters. Initially we were not sure if these designs will go well in the market, but we received phone calls appreciating the work.
Tell us about your next ventures.
I am getting offers from some good producers. I can only think about it after the release of Nenu Meeku Telusa.