How did the title ‘Kalavaraye Madilo’ happen?
I was always inspired by music and ‘Sankarabharanam’, the musical by my ‘Guru’ K.Vishwanath garu, deeply influenced me. I learnt a lot about music while working with Raja Garu during ‘Hope’ and decided to make a musical as my second film. I thought out a story, prepared script and then went about looking for producers. I met Dil Raju garu during the process. He was very appreciative of the idea and wanted to produce the film. Later, he called me to say that he had registered a title for a love story some time ago and asked me whether it would suit my story. That title was ‘Kalavaramaye Madilo’ and I was like ‘yeah this will be the perfect title to my story. In fact the title can actually be interpreted in two ways one as ‘Kalavaramayindi Madilo’ and the other to mean ‘Madilo Kala Varamaye’. It suits the story perfectly and that’s how the title happened.
Why had the film to be produced by someone other than Dil Raju given that he was very excited about the story?
yeah, initially the film was to be produced by Dil Raju garu but he had to start ‘Maro Charitra’, which was a prior commitment. That film had a seven month schedule and had to be shot in the US. All his team had to go the US and he suggested me to wait out its completion. I first told him the story in December last and as such couldn’t wait till August/September, which is when ‘Maro Charitra’ will be done with. So I told him ‘Sir, if you don’t mind, I will lookout for other producers’. He was like ‘yeah, go ahead Satish garu, I don’t mind because a brilliant project like this doesn’t deserve to be delayed’. Thus, I started to lookout and immediately found a great producer in Mohan garu.
What elements impressed Mohan garu to produce the film?
Basically the script. By the time I am ready with the film’s first shot, I have narrated the story 56 times, to a different audience each time like friends, family, producers, hero, heroine, groups of people. And every one of them had something nice to say about the story. In fact, I have never come across a person who didn’t like the story. The same way Mohan garu also liked the story. See, a producer may be having some qualms with a ‘heroine subject’ but at the end of the day, for a producer, it is basically an economic decision rather than anything else.
How did you choose the lead characters?
After ‘Avakaai Biryani’, Kamal Kamaraju was an automatic choice. His character basically is of a guy on a six month visit to Hyderabad from London. The story happens during his stay here. I looked out for other guys before like Sriram and the likes but after watching ‘Avakai Biryani’, I felt that his look perfectly suits this character – a small but a very important character nonetheless. Regarding the heroine, producers normally look for someone who’s popular at that point of time. With Dil Raju garu every option would be open as he can cast even the biggest beauty in the world. He even considered the great ‘Kamal Hasan’ for the lead. Now, he is in a different league. However, with Mohan garu, I was asked for my choice and I opted for Swathi. Even Mohan garu had ‘Swathi’ in mind, after her superb acting in ‘Ashta Chamma’, and when I told him of my choice he was very impressed. He actually wanted to make a film with Swathi before but couldn’t as she wasn’t impressed with the script he offered. Now, he asked me to talk to her and try to sign her. I promised him that I will sign her as I was sure she’ll like the story. Then I called her and she agreed to do the film as she liked the script very much. Now even they had some qualms about this as this was full of sentiment and I talked about the national award. The narration however gives a melodramatic feel, which is contrary to the subtle emotion that needs to be portrayed. They wanted to see my first film to arrive at a decision. So I invited them to watch my first film and after watching it they gained confidence that I can handle the emotions required quite well and agreed to sign the film. So that’s how Swathi was cast.
Tell us about Sarat Vasudevan’s debut as music director in Tollywood?
I don’t like to use the word ‘debut’ for such a great musician. It sounds too derogatory to his stature. All I can say is that we are just introducing the great Sarat Vasudevan to Telugu audiences. He is the best disciple of the great Balamurali Krishna garu and is an excellent music composer. He is extremely fast. In fact, so fast is he that he could actually compose a tune with all the instruments in just 20 – 30 minutes using the keyboard and when we wanted a different tune he could come up with another promising tune in just another 20-30 minutes. That’s extremely fast.
Tell us about the music
They are all situation based as I always had a clear understanding of the type of tunes that I wanted based on the situation at hand like the heroine’s introduction and the likes. After watching a great number of movies especially those of my ‘Guru’ K.Vishwanath garu, listening to tracks like Roja, while learning music, during the preparation of the script and based on my personal experiences, I developed that keen sense of music apt for the situation. Based on that, I asked my music director for the first song and was very impressed with the first tune itself that he delivered. The second song is actually a bit complicated as we had to compose the song with as many as seven mistakes. Even Chitra garu sang the song with those mistakes while laughing all the while as she found it very unusual to sing with a single mistake, forget that many. She went ahead with the singing nevertheless as the story demands it. It is a commercially hit song. The story requires the heroine to sing with mistakes and one understands the reason behind it only after watching the film. The rest of the songs are also situational.
To what level did the producer involve himself?
I spoke about producer Mohan garu during the audio function and I will repeat it today. It’s a dream to have him as a producer. Normally any director, regardless of his stature, prepares his script and presents it to the producers. Sometimes experienced producers and actors suggest the director to make some changes to make it more appealing. However, there are instances when directors refuse to make those changes as they don’t like suggestions on their scripts and would end up doing things counterproductive. Mohan garu right from the day I told him the story to the day I delivered him the final product, never interfered with my script as he had full confidence in the story. That is the level of freedom that he gave me and so I would say that all that’s good in the film is the result of team work and any mistakes are totally my responsibility. It had been my baby all along.
Any reason behind the screening of the premier show to the press a week before the actual release to the public?
There is no specific reason and you really have to ask the producer regarding that. But if you ask me I will say that it’s the confidence on the story. Mohan garu did 5-6 odd screenings and the response was really good. He might’ve thought that the press would actually promote the film, if given enough time, since the response was good. The film will impress 100% of the family audience, 70% of the youth and 30 % of the teenage audience. So there is something for everyone in this film. So a film like this when screened to the media will evoke a reaction that is positive from at least 70 %. So they will not say that it’s a bad film and we always had that confidence level. The highlight of the film however is the story and only the story. The entire two hour duration is related to the story – there are no fillers, fights, comedy tracks and waste scenes. Whatever scenes are presented be it the comedy, tragedy, emotions are all related to the story. So the highlight of the film is really the story and how each character is portrayed. 72 of the 79 scenes in the film involve Swathi. So we’ve made sure that even though Swathi is portrayed in almost every scene, no other character is neglected and is given its due importance. Every character has its own highlight moments and even the smallest character is given its due importance.
Are you targeting the National Award for this film also?
Nope, I haven’t made the film with that in mind but I certainly want to send the film for consideration. For my first film, I told the producer that sir, I will win you a National Award for the film. However, for this film I promised my producer that he will earn his money back and if possible some profit. But now at this point of time I can tell you that he will make a cool profit on this film. That’s my target. Of course after all this, I will send the film for consideration to the National Awards and Indian panorama panel because I have a very strong feeling that this film will be accepted there.
Any message in the film?
No, there isn’t any particular message in this film unlike my first film ‘Hope’. But there is ‘life’ in this film, values and lots of values I am talking about. We tell about a lot of values combining the older and younger generation. I mean everybody can associate with some scene in the film because the script is basically inspired from real life, from my experiences, from friends, family members, their behaviors and attitudes. So everything looks real and one can experience love, emotions, values, innocence, motherly love, Telugu culture and the likes that are portrayed in this film. However, there is not one single message like ‘ban dowry’ and stuff like that. But there is one major message that is delivered undercurrent and that is also my main reason behind making the film. It is why aren’t the winners of music shows such as star singer, baring a few exceptions like Geeta Madhuri, Usha garu and the likes, able to make their mark in the industry? And why even those that survive aren’t able to sing different types of songs? Why aren’t they able to sing for great composers like Ilayaraja garu and the likes? What’s the reason behind this? So this is what I wanted to deliver as an undercurrent message and this will only be understood by those who can. I basically want to tell ‘get your basics right. It’s not that great to practice and sing a song that is already sung by someone else. All that matters is whether or not you are able to sing something new that is given to you by the music director. Singers are born and can only become great singers if they are able to nurture their basics. There is nothing that can be achieved if one’s basics are wrong.’ But this is an undercurrent message, just undercurrent. I am not saying that is it.
Will this film have any flavor of your Guru K. Viswanath garu as he made many brilliant musicals?
Viswanath garu is my ‘Guru’ and my inspiration. Somebody told me that this film resembles ‘Sankarabharanam’ while someone else told that they can associate this with ‘Swatimutyam’. To compare with his style means that I am blessed. That makes me feel proud, really proud as I am finally successful enough to remind the great man in my films. If I weren’t able to remind him then I consider that as my failure.
What are your future projects?
I am planning an action thriller as my next project. But I really need to sit and work that out before I can come up with some really interesting stuff.