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Interview with Karunakaran by Jeevi
Date: 12th July 2001Venue: Hotel Samrat, Bangalore
Other Interviews
Sri (Music Director)
Gudipoodi Srihari(Film Critic)
SJ Surya(Director)
AM Ratnam(Producer)
Tammareddy Bharadwaja(Producer n Director)
Jayant C Paranji(Director)
Kodi Rama Krishna(Director)
Chakri (JD Chakravarthy)(Hero)
Ramana Gogula(Music Director)
Naga Babu(Producer n Actor)


Karunakaran has become over night sensation along with Pawan Kalyan with his debut film 'Toli Prema'. He introduced Bhumika Chawla with 'Yuvakudu'. has met Karunakaran in Bangalore, when he was here to choose locations for his next film with Venkatesh and Sonali Bendre. KS Rama Rao is the producer. The young, enthusiastic and child-like director has spoken with us on various issues. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

Tell us about your background?

I was very much interested in movies since my childhood. My teacher asked all the students in our 9th standard about what we want to become. I told her that I wanted to become a movie director. She asked me to explain what I knew about films. Immediately, I started signing and uttered a few dialogues and did some mimicry. I did do the Sivaji Ganeshan action in the class and all my classmates clapped for my performance. We used to do street dramas. I used to get saree of my mother and used it as the backstage screen and used to get my father's photo and write on it that this play is dedicated to my father. That was done to make sure that my father will not get angry after catching me red-handed for doing stage plays and using my mother's saree.

I wanted to join films after my tenth class. But my parents did not encourage me. They forced me to join polytechnic. At the age of 18, after finishing my polytechnic, I came to Madras. Then I started my career as an assistant director to Mr. Bhagyaraja. I also worked with Shankar (Gentleman and Premikudu fame). I did also work as an assistant to a few small time directors.

Did you face any problems after starting your career in films?

I faced lots of problems. I struggled a lot. Lots of friends who entered the career along with me returned to their home and joined in other professions. I became a director and they repent that they should have stayed back in this career. It took me three years to understand how films are made after joining as an assistant. I am basically a designer. I am good at drawing. Hence, I used to work for ad agencies as a part-timer. I waited for the film offer with a script (of Toliprema) in my hand.

How do you conceive a film?

I think of a basic story line. And then I prepare the narration from the scene one to the climax scene. Once the story is ready, I will narrate it to my friends and ask for their opinion. Then approach the hero and the producers.

How Toli Prema happened?

I was in Madras at that time. I saw the photograph of Pawan Kalyan on a Telugu magazine. I realized that the story is made for Pawan.

Is it really true?

Promise. Mother Promise! I liked Pawan Kalyan. I did not even know that Pawan Kalyan is a brother of Chiranjeevi sir. It was a 7-month process. I did not even know where the Hyderabad is. One night, my life changed. Pawan accepted my story. I would like to sincerely thank Pawan Kalyan for the opportunity given to me. After listening to my story, he told me that he was waiting for Karunakaran all this while! We have a very good attachment. It was a fantastic experience.

Both the films you made were love subjects. Don't you make any action films?

My age and experiences suit the love stories. Most of the scenes in my films are my own experiences. I can't make 'Benhur' now. I will get some experience and then make matured films. Since, I incorporate the real incidents in my films, the audiences are appreciating them.

What went right with Toliprema?

I make the films on a basic assumption that if I like a something, the audiences too like it. If I tell you a story and if you appreciate it, the film will become a hit. If you say that the story is boring, the film will be a flop. It's all the matter of luck. The people liked the story of Toliprema. I am very happy for that.

What went wrong with Yuvakudu?

The climax of the film is based on a real incident. A Bihari soldier called Sanjay Arora has unearthed bombs at 10 places in Coimbattoor during the Advani tour in late 1990's. I was in my sister's place in Coimbattoor at that time. People from all the religions and castes treated Sanjay Arora like a God and gave him aartis.

I have taken this incident as the climax and then worked the story backwards. I created the mother, who does not want her son to join army, as her husband was a victim of a war. But, if she sees that incident of his son saving people from bombs and the entire town making him a demigod, she would realize that love towards mother country is more needed than love towards the mother for any true son.

When the people saw Yuvakudu film, they were in love mood as the film goes on love-theme till climax and suddenly the story takes different pace and hero is emerged as the serious guy. Hence people could not appreciate the film.

It's an experience for me about how not to make to make a film. I should have shown the serious angle of the film from the start of the story.

You could have made that film on Sakhi style, where the climax is slowing unveiling from the start of the film as the remaining story is told in spaced flashbacks?

You are right! In the opening shot I will have the military scene. I will show Sumant sitting in military camp. He will be crying by looking at her mother's photograph. When somebody ask him about why he is crying, he will tell that he is an orphan (as he rejected his mother). From there onwards, I will space the current story and flashback appropriately and then end the film in the Coimbattoor bomb blast. Then the element of suspense is present through out the film. If the story narration were done in this way, Yuvakudu would have become a super successful film. The story of the film is very good. But execution was not done in the right manner.

You are known for selecting the right kind of heroine for the right kind of films. The heroines in your films become the most sought after. What is the special care taken by you?

There is no special care taken by me. They are acting for my concept. Any girl is like a wonder. So with that inspiration, I mould the heroine character. In the future, I want the people to refer to any beautiful girl as Karunakaran's Heroine (like Bapu Bomma). In all my films I dedicate five minutes to introduce heroine, without disturbing the flow of the story. I make the audiences get a very good impression about heroine in the first appearance. First impression is the best impression. So, introduction of heroine in my films is done with poetic thoughts.

For the next film you have taken Sonali Bendre as heroine. She is already established and most of the people know her very well. How different you will project her as the heroine?

I have my own style of executing things. The heroine only joins me. I don't change my style to suit heroine. Hence, I will mould Sonali according to the specifications of my heroine character. You will see a fresh and beautiful Sonali in that film.

Tell us about the film you are going to direct?

I am going to do a pure love story with Venkatesh Babu and Sonali Bendre. KS Rama Rao of Creative Commercials is the producer. Harris jayaraj (of Cheli fame) is scoring music. It will have a different story telling.

Will there be villains in that film?

There are no major villains in that film. Only a few small time villains would be there who are created for the effectiveness of the story and to have a few turning points in the film. They are called spot villains. They become significant only for a couple of scenes.

How many days will it take to make a film for you?

Lot of time would be taken to make the script ready. I make the story ready and narrate it to friends and take their feedback to make the changes. Then I prepare the storyboard. The shooting of the film would take 5-6 months. The entire film will take a year to make.

How come you are not directing any Tamil films?

I am looking forward to direct any Tamil films. I like the Telugu language a lot. And I like the receptiveness and tolerance of Telugu people. Since, I got success in Telugu field, I have no intentions of making films in other languages. I had lots of sweet incidents in Telugu film industry. I am also a fan of Vishwanath sir and Dasari sir. I want to make a name for myself like Vishwanath and Dasari in Telugu film industry. Once I become old, I will make matured films. Now, I am doing only love stories.

Why do you wear cap all the time?

Simple. That's because of my receding hairline. I don't have so much hair to have the kind of hairstyle I would like to have. I want to have hair like Pawan Kalyan. (giggles). Since the days of assistant director, I started wearing the cap. Friends do tell me that I look better with a cap. Hence, I bought different types of caps and wearing them.

Do you take any extra care in music department?

Since my childhood, I was observing rerecording in films. I used to do re-recording on my own my imitating the scenes and actors in the film. I watch a film for the first time for its entertainment value. I watch it again to mimic the artists. I always listen to English music. I also pickup tune from them and ask the music directors to score songs (remember a song inspired by 'Un Dos Tres' in Toliprema?) I tell what I want with the rhythm and tune to music director.

Any particular reasons for choosing Harris Jayaraj for you film?

He is very potential music director now. He is going to enrich my ideas with his music. It will become a great teamwork.

The film you are going to make is with Venkatesh. How different you show Venkatesh in a love story?

You will see a new and fresh Venkatesh in that film. You will accept my views once the film is released.

How do you decide a hero for the film?

For my earlier films, I worked on the script and then chosen a hero, who fits the characterization. But for this film, we have chosen the hero (Venkatesh) first and then started working on the script. I like Venkatesh a lot. He is a very talented artist.

How old are you?

I am 30.

Are you married?

Yes. I was married one and half year ago.

Is it a love marriage?

It's a kind of. I met my father's childhood friend after a long time and I saw his daughter and liked her. I asked my parents to 'fix the match'. I married the girl I loved at the first sight with the parent's blessings.

Do you have any words of wisdom for the director wannabes?

There is only one suggestion. ONE AIM. Have only one aim of becoming the film director and forget the rest. You know about yourself. No other person in this world knows your talent.

Take my example. I was very confidant that I would be successful as the director. My parents did not trust me. My friends did not have faith in me. Fortunately, my sister encouraged me.

Self-confidance is very important. Don't listen to anybody of you have confidence in yourself. You will definitely become a big director if you keep on trying and have confidence in yourself. Light the fire of confidence in you. Keep telling yourself that 'You will do it!' One day, you will become a successful director.

Interviewed by Jeevi
Other Interviews
Gudipoodi Srihari
SJ Surya
AM Ratnam
Tammareddy Bharadwaja
Jayant C Paranji
Kodi Rama Krishna
Chakri (JD Chakravarthy)
Ramana Gogula
Naga Babu
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