Ajay Varma has a multifaceted personality. He is an aeronautic engineer, entrepreneur, TV serial producer, filmmaker and now an actor. He is making his debut as actor with Neelakanta’s Nandanavanam 120 kms. Idlebrain.com catches up with this sophisticated man for chitchat -
Tell us about your background?
I was born in Hyderabad and did my preliminary education in Hyderabad. Then I moved into US. I did my graduation in Denver and then moved to New York. I did my graduation in Aeronautics Engineering. I spent 9 years in NY.
What did you want to become?
When I did Aeronautic Engineering, I wanted to be a flight engineer. By the time I finished my graduation, I decided to quit aviation. I joined my friends who are into IT field in 1997. We started a company.
When did you develop your interest in films?
I was always interested in films. I produced a TV serial called ‘Seeta Mahalakshmi’ in year 2000. This TV serial ran on Gemini TV for 390 episodes. It also won 11 Nandi awards which is a record so far. That was the only one program I did for television, as TV channel business was not in an organized state at that time. Though I got lot of appreciation, I lost huge money in that venture. I went to NY after that stint and wrote a few scripts. I also produced few short films.
I wrote one script I wanted to direct and I came back to Hyderabad. It is an experimental crossover feature film called ‘Animal’. I finished shooting and postproduction of the film and I was about to go back to Hyderabad when Neelakanta offered me the role of hero in Nandanavanam 120 kms.
Were you interested in acting?
I was so excited when I watched ‘Show’ film by Neelakanta. It is one of the best films I have seen. I told Neelakanta that I would like to act in his films if he were to continue making films like Show. Three years after show Neelakanta still had me in his mind and offered me this role in N120kms.
Tell us about your experimental film Animal?
Animal is 1.50 hrs experimental feature film. It deals with the end of humanity. My take was if humans evolved from animals because of necessities, the same necessities can push a human being into an animal. It was pretty much an apocalyptic look at humanity. I shot the entire film in Hyderabad in 22 days with in a budget of 5000 USD. This film has multiple languages like Telugu, English and Hindi. I let the characters talk in their own languages. I took two characters of a farmer turned thief and a prostitute in the city. The story follows how these people from being what they are pushed into doing as incredible as killing people. The characters of thief and prostitutes are played by Kavi and Sini respectively.
Animal is very raw in narration and it appeals only to the crossover audiences. I planned this film for film festival circuit. I am planning to tie up with an art house agency in NY. I can reach those art house agencies only through film festivals.
Tell us about N120kms?
It is a wonderfully woven drama which ends up being a thriller. Neelakanta is known for good drama in his films. I can classify this film as a dramatic thriller. It has tightly knit characters. There is so much depth in the subject and it is surprising that Neelakanta opted for fresh faces.
What are your observations on Neelakanta as a filmmaker?
There are certain things in Neelakanta that inspired me. Neelakanta has the unique way of exploiting the poetic realism – metaphysical relationships between two objects. He does excellent detailing of each character. I always admire Neelakanta because he is downright original. It is very difficult in this competitive industry for the filmmakers to be original. He is very simple in his narrative. There is an interesting elegance that flows in his scenes. Originality, simplicity and elegance are three things Neelakanta should be branded with.
You are an entrepreneur, filmmaker, TV serial producer and actor. Where do you see yourself in future?
The moment I became a filmmaker, I got myself rid of duties as entrepreneur and I decided to focus of my film Animal. I want to focus on films.
What exactly is acting in opinion?
I don’t know how I can describe acting. I don’t think I have acted in N120kms at all. Neelakanta has written the script so in detail that I did not need any reference for acting.
Are you considering any future acting projects?
I have been listening to few scripts. I will probably choose one to go with by end of this month.
Have you done any courses in filmmaking?
No. I had a big decision to make in the year 2000. That is to whether put 60000 USD for the film course in Tisch School of Arts, New York University or probably produce something in India. So I decided to go and produce TV serial in Hyderabad.
Tell us about your co-artist Manasa?
She is a student who is doing her film editing course. There is always a technical inclination in her approach. Like me, she also stumbled into acting by chance. She is a quick learner. She does catch things sometimes quicker than I could. She has got interesting ease in her acting which will take her to places.
What’s your immediate step after N120kms?
I am looking at a script to act in now. I am keeping my directorial ambitions under wraps for sometime.
Do you want to convey anything to the visitors of idlebrain.com?
Yeah. Movies have always been a great source of entertainment and relaxation to most of us. IB visitors should encourage new faces who are trying to change the face of Telugu cinema. We are at the beginning of a sea change in film industry. Idlebrain.com is a wonderful site. Good luck and peace!
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