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'Yatra' can't influence voters: Mahi V Raghav

Tuesday, January 29, 2019 • Tamil Comments

Yatra cant influence voters: Mahi V Raghav

Director Mahi V Raghav awaits the release of 'Yatra' in February.  In this interview, he talks about what inspired him to cast Mammootty in the role of YS Rajasekhara Reddy, why 'Yatra' is different, whether Jaganmohan Reddy has any interest in the project and more.  

What inspired you to tell the story of YSR's rise?

It's not easy to tell a person's story.  I have evolved 'Yatra' over many years, based on the anecdotal evidence that I had been coming through.  Most people, like auto drivers, have had something or the other positive thing to say about YSR.  It's rare that most people always say only nice things about a politician in India.  

Is the entire film only about YSR's 'Pada Yatra' (2003)?  

I took up the Pada Yatra part, but the timeline of the movie is not constricted.  Audiences don't come to watch a movie for information. They need entertainment.  So, I have dramatized YSR's journey in the movie.  

'Yatra' indicates both inner and external 'journey'.  Not the entire film is about his 'pada yatra'.  There are intriguing scenes.  The cinematic timeline of the movie is totally different.  Events that happened in the 1980s are juxtaposed with the 'pada yatra'.  

Why Mammootty? He doesn't look like YSR, right?

Mammootty garu was my default choice. He has charisma, he has the X factor. He has played Ambedkar.  The intention was not to make him look like YSR.  In 2004, YSR had no much hair on his head.  But Mammootty garu is not like that in 'Yatra'.  The actor hasn't mimicked the real-life character.  Five minutes into the movie, the audience has to get totally involved in the story. So, mimicking a real-life character doesn't help.  Mammootty garu has the warmth, humbleness. He had done a Telugu movie long ago. To do this movie, he went by only the script and the character.

What inspired you to cast him?

I was inspired by 'Dalapathy' to cast him in 'Yatra'.  There is a scene in that movie, involving Rajinikanth, in which Mammootty garu makes so much impact by just saying the word 'Kudaradu'.  There is no trace of arrogance on his face. There is no pride in him. At the same time, he can make a lot of impact with his spectacular voice.  He doesn't do a movie if he doesn't get to dub for his character.  It makes sense.  Someone else dubbing for him wouldn't have been realistic.  

Do you think 'Yatra' can influence voter decision as it's releasing ahead of elections?

If you told me a film can influence the public to vote for a party 30-40 years ago, I would give you the benefit of doubt.  But today, people are really smart.  They will not vote on the basis of what they watch in a movie.  'Yatra' won't fetch votes for any party.  

What kind of success are you expecting?

I am not backed by any major studio.  Mammootty is an outsider.  The morning show decides everything for a film like 'Yatra'.  I have engaged myself with the subject of the movie for more than a year.  I have lost my sense of judgement now.  It's now up to the audience to evaluate my movie.  I am waiting for their judgement.  

Have you highlighted YSR's schemes?

The schemes are integrated into the story.  We have not shown anything explicitly.  For example, we have shown how Arogya Sri had its roots in an incident that happened many years ago. 

The present CM of Andhra Pradesh was the main rival of YSR.  Who has played Naidu in the movie?

Chandrababu Naidu garu's character is not there in the movie.  I don't have to belittle someone else to elevate YSR garu.  Jagan garu's character, too, is not there.  It wouldn't be good if a character comes and goes in just 2 minutes.  It would be very distracting.  There are a couple of fictional characters, though.  

What about the talk that Jaganmohan Reddy is behind 'Yatra'?

I met Jagan garu only after the movie's announcement.  When I went to him, he told me he had heard about the project.  Jagan garu is completely detached about this project.  He feels that someone who loves YSR garu has done the movie.  Had he been involved, as some are saying, the scale of the movie would have been much higher.  

What about your next project?

Ideas are there.  I have to take stock of my worth after 'Yatra' releases.  I have to assess my market viability.  I have no particular genre in mind.  

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