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Mahesh Koneru on '118', working with NTR, future projects & more

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 • Telugu Comments

Mahesh Koneru on 118, working with NTR, future projects & more

Mahesh Koneru is happy that '118' has become a hit.  In this interview, the producer talks about the project, how it was working with KV Guhan and Nandamuri Kalyan Ram, future projects (with Keerthy Suresh and Harish Shankar) and more.  

How was it producing two films, 'Naa Nuvve' and '118', so far?

The poor box-office performance of my first film left me disappointed.  Although it was not really my own production, it saddened me because I was associated with it.  The hero (Kalyan Ram) worked with us with total faith in us.  But the film didn't work out in the end.  We worked on '118' with a vengeance.  And it worked out for us, thankfully.

Did you creatively involve yourself with '118' at any level?

No.  I only invested my part of the money and was on the production side completely.  I didn't engage with the project at the creative level significantly.

Do you take pride in the fact that you have introduced an acclaimed technician like KV Guhan as a director in Tollywood?

I don't see it that way.  Luckily, we got to produce his movie.  I listened to the script of '118' during the making of 'Naa Nuvve'. I liked it so much.  Kalyan Ram garu was intent on making it under NTR Arts.  On the other hand, I felt that I should produce it as a solo producer.  I requested Kalyan Ram garu and he agreed.

What made you want to produce the movie somehow?

I always knew that '118' is a distinct script.  But I never felt that it was an experimental flick.  We have seen many thrillers becoming hits.  

I do read books and get ideas.  For '118', I could improvise the interval block.  The climax of the movie is like that of 'Inception'.  KV Guhan garu was very particular about having the climax that way.  When it comes to drama, the audience just needs to connect with the proceedings.  He or she wouldn't bother about logic.  

You are producing a film with Keerthy Suresh.  What is its progress?

One schedule has been completed.  A new schedule will begin from next week.  A long schedule in the US will go on for 40 days later this year.

How do you see your journey from being a journalist and a film critic to a producer?

Only after becoming a producer am I learning how hard it is to be a producer.  Sometimes, we producers lose sleep for three weeks before the release of a film.  And it hurts when the fate of your film gets decided after the first day first show.

How do you see the mixed acclaim for '118'?

When a hundred people watch your movie, you can't expect everyone to like it in the same way.  '118' is not a regular movie.  Despite that, it started getting positive word of mouth from the second show itself.  I got double my investment.

Is this the best film in Kalyan Ram's film in terms of commercial success?

No.  'Pataas' was a bigger hit.  But in this film, Kalyan Ram garu got to emote a range of expressions.  His performance has gone down very well with the audience.  That's what makes '118' a more memorable film.

Is it true that you are planning a movie with Harish Shankar?

Yes, we have a film in the pipeline.  But for that to happen we have to find a nice script.  I think we will do a film together by the end of this year.

What kind of equations do you share with NTR and Kalyan Ram?

I became close to them as a PR officer.  I have always loved their family.  I recently came to know that their ancestors and mine were related.  I always inform NTR garu before making any move.  He gives his pieces of advice to me. After watching '118', it was he who first told us that we can be very confident.  Dil Raju garu and Sirish garu helped us with the release.  

'118' got the right release date.  Was it all planned that way?

We wanted to release the movie for last Dasara.  But since Kalyan Ram garu was busy with the 'NTR' biopic movies, we postponed.  There were issues with his dates as it was a prestigious project.  His looks in '118' and 'NTR' biopic movies are entirely different.  

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