Looks like you’ve gone from your family wellness whirlpool to a mass action artist …
Of course it does (laughs). It’s going to be kind of a transition for sure. However, the film will not lack lightness and leans heavily on the emotional quotient. I have no doubts that Narappa remains true to the soul and intention of the original, Asuran. I’m thrilled with the overwhelming response to our film’s trailer and look forward to the digital premiere.
Was the transition difficult?
I would place Narappa as a family drama. The only difference between my previous films and this one is that the latter is loaded with high voltage action. But the action occurs because of conflict or unrest in the family. So that’s where my strength lies and maybe that’s why I chose to pick up this remake. One has to face his own set of challenges in doing so.
ALSO READ: Venkatesh, Priyamani-starrer’s Telugu film ‘Narappa’ will premiere on Amazon Prime Video in July
Is Narappa a frame-by-frame remake of Asuran?
Redoing a classic like Asuran is going to be a challenge but one that I want to take up. So I chose to keep the psyche and soul of Asuran and I did not allow myself to be deviated from the original. Narappa, however, offers a different experience, as it is rooted in our nativity. While the locations were the same for the action sequences, we changed the backdrop to Ananthapuram. We shot in Anantapuram for 14 days as we only find such setups in this region. I am sure that the emotions will be conveyed as they are and the nativity is only seen in the dialogues and performances of Venkatesh garu, Priyamani garu and others.
Your opinion on the exit on an OTT platform?
I would be lying if I said I was not disappointed. Not just me, even Venkatesh garu was extremely disappointed. We did not expect that. It’s no secret that we made Narappa for a theatrical screening. Whether it was the sound technique, the casting, the staging and the locations, everything was finalized with the theatrical release in mind. That was (producer) Kalaippuli S Thanu’s call and I understand he made this decision after weighing many options amid the pandemic. When I was informed of the release of OTT, I was unable to sleep for the next two days. We made the film on a large scale, but the uncertainty made us choose the best. We will definitely miss a total theatrical experience. The casting is like a dream come true.
Your experience working with Venkatesh and Priyamani?
Venky sir put his heart and soul into this movie. We managed to shoot in the scorching sun in a row for 58 days before the lockdown, as the film was due out in 2020. He never complained and believed in the film. He was completely involved in the process and told me he had never worked like this in his career.
His transformation in portraying a 60-year-old into a fiery young man was mind-boggling. His costumes, appearance, and body language were totally different for the older role, as he lost a few pounds and looks more stylish for the younger one. His performance in a scene where he cries with all his heart remembering his deceased son was brilliant. Likewise, his rage during the flashback fight gives you goosebumps. It’s definitely an award-winning performance and you’ll be able to see it in never-before-seen avatars. Priyamani garu also excelled in her role. When I watched Asuran, I couldn’t think of another actor to play Sundaramma. The reason for this is her simplicity and the way she puts herself in the shoes of a character. If you watch Paruthiveeran (2007) for which she received the National Film Award for Best Actress, you will understand.
Any clues about your new project?
I am committed to directing a trilogy for Geetha Arts. It takes place in the 70s and will be produced on a huge canvas. Pre-production has started and we will be making more announcements soon.
Your opinion on the OTT boom?
We are certainly in the best phase of filmmaking. There is no shortage of talent and these platforms create more opportunities for filmmakers. If you have the talent, determination, and good scripts ready, you can be successful.