little about your background and childhood?
I was born and bought up in Kakinada, I studied up
to my sixth standard in St. Josephs Convent in Kakinada
itself. Then I received a Government of India scholarship
and got into Hyderabad Public School through the scholarship.
I finished my schooling and wanted to get into medicine
but never got through. So, I waited for one year and
joined BA English at Andhra Loyola College in Vijaywada.
But I was removed from college in the second year
as the entire English medium students went for a strike.
Then I discontinued studies and worked as a sales
rep for Navbharath Cigarettes, door to door sales.
Then I did my BA through private, then I joined MA
and completed it. During that time I also wrote Probationary
officers in State Bank of India. After spending six
months at Dibrugarh (last point on Indian Railways)
and another five at Shillong, I got bored of that
job and I quit.
where did you go from there?
After that I came back to Hyderabad, I started to
work as a copy-writer for my friends Ad agency. Then
I had no idea about an ad agency, to be frank I had
never seen from inside. I had no idea about type setting
or anything else. But we ran it for about five years
before we decided that we had wastted a lot of money
and energy on it. I decided to set up my own designer
studio, a studio that makes the basic designs for
ad agencies. It was called Fountain Head Design studio,
named after my favorite book. But it didn't workout
and I had decided to take up something where I could
earn money without using my head. I opened a Vadilal
ice-cream parlor, and even there I lost a lot of money.
So, I started the business of doing greeting cards
(Font Cards) with Rs. 1500/- that I borrowed from
I started drawing greeting cards, but the price I
quoted was a little high. The then leaders in cards
Hallmark used to sell their cards at nine rupees to
the shops, but I wanted to sell mine at Rs. 15. So
people asked me how I was planning to sell them at
such high prices. My answer was simple if my designs
are bad people would not take them for free. But if
they are good then people will buy them for what ever
price I quote. People don't buy greeting cards by
looking at the price. During that time I was successful
and Archies also wanted to take up few of my designs.
In 1990, after the Shiva's release Ram Gopal Varma
has asked me to direct a film. He was approached by
CL Narasareddy (Geetanjali producer) to make a film.
Ramu redirected the producer to me by saying that
he would provide screenplay. Yarlagadda Surendra (one
of the producers of Shiva) also joined in with Narasa
Reddy for the film. The film was a remake of a Malyalam
film Maludi, which starred Shamili in her first role.
There is no fun in remaking a good film. The concept
of Maludi was good, but execution is bad. I wanted
to make that film as I could use different way of
narration to execute the film better. I added a brother
character and took Tarun for that. This film started
much before Anjali (Shamili & Tarun) started.
The producers felt that it would not take more than
40 lakhs to produce a children film. When they realized
that making of this film would cost much more than
what they budgeted for, they developed cold feet.
After shooting for about seven days the producers
abandoned the film. This film experience was before
I started my greeting card career.
Font Cards business was at high, I started the film
Little Soldiers. It was supposed to be produced to
by somebody else with me directing it. I was ready
to do the film and suddenly the producer had cold
feet and backed out. But I decided that whatever happens
this time I was not going to back out.
working on Little Soldiers?
A little later the producer left the project. That
is when I decide to do the film on my own. The funniest
thing is that I had no idea what a film would cost
or how much work it would take. The hardest part of
the film was making the three year old girl act. During
the first days of shooting she was very moody and
acted only when she wanted to, but slowly as the shooting
progressed she started doing everything. She also
gave her own dubbing for the role (she is a non-Telugu
girl) for all 55 scenes by learning Telugu in 3 months.
working with her, I decided never to make a film with
those who didn't have a right to vote. Though the
film has clicked, I felt that I could have done a
better job of directing the film. The songs in the
film are the highlight of the film and I till date
feel that there is no better way of making those songs.
I can not add anything further to those songs.
wrote the story of Little Soldiers somewhere in '82,
and then told D Suresh Babu who said the film had
a very regular story but it all depends on the treatment
of the director. I even told him about the final boobytraps
sequence. Then Home Alone was released and D Suresh
Babu called me to tell me about that film. But I felt
happy that I was two years ahead when I wrote the
story. But I lost money in Little Soldiers and maybe
the film would have done better with different kind
of publicity. I spent just above a crore on Little
Soldiers and it recovered around 60 lakhs.
and how did Just Yellow come into being?
'Just Yellow' is actually my friend Venkat Dega's
company, he is a doctor in Canterbury in UK. We started
this company in August 2000, his plan was to start
a media company. That was because there was this big
IT company boom and he started an IT Company with
the name Yellow One. When I enquired about the name
he said, 'I like yellow and then that one sounds very
attractive'. That is when I proposed Just Yellow,
earlier it was just designing websites and interactive
learning tutorials, and later we wanted to enter into
production. After six months we never made enough
money so we went to our second option television production.
Then we started with Amrutham (TV), Aithe (Film),
Nanna (TV) and now Anukokunda Oka Roju (Film).
did Aithe happen?
After doing television, films was the next best step
we were looking out when Chandu (Chandra Sekhar Yeleti)
came with the story. We just heard the interval scenes
and told him to go ahead with the film then he took
about five months to complete the script. Then the
film was made.
film is too intelligent for an average Telugu film
viewer to understand and comprehend?
We worked a lot on the script and tried to make it
intelligent and simple at the same time. The script
has its intelligent moments and yet at the same time
can be enjoyed by everyone. Even now many people who
see or saw the picture tell me that they thought that
the heroes were the four guys selected by the villain.
about the financial front, did you make money in Aithe?
I did make money but not as much as people claim I
did. The film should have made a lot more money, but
the theatres were limited and the film was literally
playing hide and seek with the audience who wanted
to watch it. If Multiplex culture were there then
I would have made a lot more money. You can see many
Hindi films of today making profits thanks to this
about the Hindi version of the film Aithe?
Yes we were planning to make it in Hindi but we were
on the look out for distributors, Nimbus communications
liked the film and agreed to release the film. But
it was the first time they were coming into film production
so they wanted to release my small film along with
a big film they planned. That big film with Sanjay
Dutt never took off, so we just took back our film
and decided to release it in limited films. We also
spoke to a distribution firm for release of the film,
it is going to be a multiplex film releasing in the
next couple of months.
the latest film Anukokunda Oka Roju also going to
cater to the same Aithe kind of audience?
This film is going to have a wider audience base than
Aithe had; the comedy in this film is going to be
more appealing than the subtleness of Aithe. Aithe
is a darker film in comparison to Anukokunda, but
Anukokunda has more fear in it. It sounds very contradictory
but that is how it is going to be. Then there is the
beauty factor, people are definitely going to come
in to see Charmi who played a simple girl next door
costumes and look of Charmi in this film look very
similar to that of Sridevi in Kshanakshanam?
There was no deliberate attempt to make her look like
Sridevi, but maybe in some angels the dress and look
do look similar. But in Kshanak Kshanam Sridevi never
wears long skirts except for a few songs and scenes.
In this film she is a girl next door and is seen in
those long skirts most of the time.
are saying the film has a mystery element to it, will
people enjoy the film even after knowing the climax?
The film is not a Sherlock Holmes type of mystery,
it is simple and entertaining. So, I am assured that
people are going to enjoy the film even after the
first show. Usually in most of the mystery films as
soon as the first show is over the story is known
but even if such a thing happens this movie will entertain
have lent your voice to the villain in Aithe, did
you dub for this film also?
No I felt that there was no need for my voice in this
are your plans for the publicity and promotion of
the film, Aithe had a very different look and feel
in this regard?
We did not plan anything that will be different, we
just made posters that look different and will stand
out in the crowd of posters. Aithe had a simple scheme
of posters with just a black and white screen with
a simple line, but for this film we added the shade
of red o the poster. Aithe was promoted with teasers
on television but this film has only one trailer made
for the TV. Even the music of the film is not being
promoted in a big way as the film has no big heroes.
In the industry today hero's sell music and not the
was the reason for choosing Charmi for the lead character?
She just fit the role perfectly, there was no doubt.
We once saw her in a program on television and saw
that she was speaking good Telugu. Then another reason
was that she looked gorgeous without make-up also.
So she was the best choice for the role.
for release of the film?
The film is going to hit the theatres on June 30 with
35 prints. As that is the only date that was free
for the month. We were publicizing for early on that
the film will be released in June and that was the
only option that we had.
are your future plans, planning anything other than
film and television?
Presently in television we are planning a daily serial
in the next three months. Then a weekly serial to
replace Nanna, apart from this the movies will be
going on. For us making movies is the ultimate thrill,
so there is nothing that can replace that feeling
for me. But I would also like to set up a studio,
not a big one with floors and all, but one with dubbing
studio and editing suit for our convenience.
by Jeevi and Aditya
Meghana Naidu (Heroine)
Gowri Mumjal (Heroine)
MS Raju (Producer)