Dega Deva Kumar Reddy is one of the very few producers who have the advantage of a rich academic background and philanthropic leanings generated through the teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti. He produced a clean film ‘Ammai Bagundi’ in the past. Now he is coming up another wholesome entertainer ‘Manasu Palike Mouna Ragam’ with Sneha in the female lead. This film is slated for release on 3rd of November. Here is an exclusive interview with him:
I am from Nellore. I studied in Rishi Valley for ten years and followed it up with graduation in a Chennai college. Later on I did some research education. Then I started a school for poor children in Pallepadu village. I went to Rishi Valley again to study the education system. I wanted to introduce the Jiddu Krishnamurti method of learning but soon realised that it is very difficult to do it in the framework of today’s education that overburdens their tender minds (and bodies!) as well.
I am also an exhibitor and own three theatres in Nellore. I found that cinema is a medium that can influence the public in large numbers. I wanted to spread the message of Jiddu Krishnamurti through films. For a long time, I could not find anybody who has sound technical knowledge and also knows about the teachings of Krishnamurti. Commercial filmmaking is the order of the day for the present day generation.
Then I worked with Mohana Krishna Indraganti for a year. He wrote a script titled ‘Ekantha Geetam’, based on a novel by Buchibabu. Incidentally that novel has elements of Krishnamurti’s philosophy. This is what I was looking for. At the end of the script I found that though it was a literary adaptation of the novel, it did not have the film grammar. Mohan Krishna could not deviate much from literary work. I feel that we should take the essence from the literary work and make the film without really adapting the literary value. We stopped the work at that time and decided to work together at a later date.
Manasu Palike Mouna Ragam
Nagabhushan came to me as executive producer for Ekantha Geetam . I observed that Nagabhushan understood film grammar well and has technical knowledge about cinema. He did not know anything about Krishnamurti. It helped because he would not put his interpretation of Krishnamurti into the script.
The story of ‘Manasu Palike Mouna Ragam’ has been taken from the Khusbhoo controversy and her frank remarks on pre marital sex. I watched a lot of films dealing with love but none of them were realistic and send the wrong signals. Premarital sex is not an issue at all in western countries unlike here. I don’t want premarital sex to be the central issue but just a part of the main story. Sex is an important part of love nevertheless it is just a small part. We have shown it only when it is relevant.
During a flight once I saw a magazine with Krishnamurti’s quotes. It said that once when someone asked Krishnamurti to put his entire teachings in a nutshell he said, “Where the self is, there is no love. Where there is love, there is no self”. The film also deals with issues relevant to love like communication, ego, suspicion, jealousy etc. We are trying not to be preachy.
Description of Songs:
1st Song – Step Veyara: The hero is introduced in this song depicting his western upbringing and how he feels that it is superior to anything else. We shot this song in the vibrant disco set erected in Ramoji Film City.
2nd song – Rama Seeta: The spotlight is on Sneha, her parents and the love they share and the congenial atmosphere of her childhood. It tells what love is all about from Sneha’s perspective. This song is an indication of Sneha’s reaction in the climax. We shot this song in Kumbhakonam.
3rd song – Telusuko Jeevitam: It is a children’s song with the hero playing with children. There is a philosophic angle and their contribution to the future and what it holds for them. This song is shot in a house erected in RFC.
4th song – Alapana Naa Manasuna: The heroine’s first stirrings of love for the hero, the song depicts the realisation of the emotion.The tempo is slow but complemented with rich vibrant visuals. We shot this one in Kerala.
5th song – Kotha Pelli Koothuru: It is a marriage song that takes place against the backdrop of a temple. There is a misunderstanding and in that sadness the heroine wants everybody to be happy. It’s a colourful song set against a village backdrop.
6th song – Ningi Nela: When heroine realises that she is not going to get what she wants, she sings this song in depression and wants to end her life. This song is shot against the backdrop of rugged locations like rocks and caves.Every song is rich in content with stunning backdrops that match the emotional content of the song.
There is a recurring element of suspense in the screenplay that keeps the viewer on the edge. The hero represents western culture and heroine represents eastern culture and the film deals with the conflict in both. In the end they realise the positive and negative facets of each.
Why the MPMR title?
We decided to title it ‘Manasu Palike Mouna Ragam’ because a silent mind is the most powerful mind where revolutions take place. One will discover new things with a silent mind. If you listen to your mind, you can discover truth.
Did you have any experience in production?
I produced ‘Ammai Bagundi’ film, which is a remake of the Tamil blockbuster ‘Parthipan Kanavu’. I made that film to understand more about production. I learnt a lot about production, as I was involved in it from day one. Being an exhibitor I had the habit of observing how crowds react to various scenes in the film. also distributed various films in the Nellore territory. Thanks to that experience, I know how a film is distributed and the related business. I know my strengths and limitations and work accordingly.
Why did you take a hero from the Tamil film industry? Don’t we have competent heroes in Telugu?
That character in this film needs a fresh guy without a set image. The Telugu heroes, all of them, have a fixed image and also many of them interfere in filmmaking. They want the producer to be the financier of the movie. The regular heroes do not allow me to be a producer and one ends up being a mere cashier.
What about the business of MPMR?
There are buyers for big budget films. But the same buyers ask for middle budget films like MPMR at low prices. They pay half of the agreed upon amount when they finally take the print. If you are going to make a middle budget film, you have to be prepared to release it on your own because you won’t make profits with what buyers offer. We do not get good theatres, and we need good theatres to get good collections.
I am releasing MPMR on my own. I have second the best theatres in town for MPMR.
How much money are you spending for promotion?
I made MPMR on a budget of 2 crores. I require another 50 lakhs to promote the film. We should spend 25% of your budget for promotion. I am releasing my films through well-known distributors in various areas. Those distributors would get commission. They will also take care of the publicity costs.
We sold the satellite rights for 45 lakhs and audio right for 20 lakhs. If your film is good, you will collect more than one crore in Hyderabad city only.
I will release MPMR on my own overseas. I will be releasing the Tamil version of MPMR in December.
Nidhi Prasad (Director)
Hema Chandra (Singer)
Vijay C Chakravarthy (Cinematographer)
VN Aditya (Director)
Sharrath Marar (Producer)
Ram Gopal Varma (Director)
K Satish (Director)
Siva Nageswara Rao (Director)
Ajay Varma (Hero)
Kamalinee Kukherjee (Heroine)
Sriya Reddy (Heroine)
Muruga Doss (Director)
Uday Kiran (Hero)
T Gopichand (Hero)
Kalyan Ram Nandamuri (Hero)
Siva Kumar (Director)
Rasool Ellore (Cinematographer & Director)