I am born and raised in Rajahmundry. My mother is
English and my father is a Telugu Hindu. My mother
wanted to name me Rasool as she liked the sound of
it. I dropped out of studies in my intermediate second
father was an electrical engineer and he worked at
Lakshmi Talkies in Rajahmundry once every week, on
technical issues. I used to accompany my father. They
used to play an English movie every week in and I
made sure that I missed none.
family has an artistic inclination. My father is a
great painter. He would have become a big man if he
chose painting instead of electrical engineering.
Because of my mother, I used to have lots of western
influence. My mother subscribed to books like Time,
Life, National Geography, Readers Digest etc. My father
bought many books on painters like Rembrandt, Whistler,
Suret etc. I used to read books a lot because they
are entertaining and informative as well.
Rajahmundry is a small place, we did not have facilities
to learn English. I could not learn English at home
as mother left me at a young age. I picked up English
on my own. I was brought up in a creatively charged
atmosphere. I always had an urge to express myself.
I feel that National Geography is like a window to
the world. I was brought up in a small town, but my
horizons were broadened because of the books I read.
developed a strong visual sense to my imagination.
As I kid I learned everything the hard way. Kids these
days are pampered by parents so much that their creative
thinking is suppressed. I had the luxury of doing
what I wanted when I was a kid. I always have a very
pleasant nostalgic memory about my childhood.
used to get so much influenced by westerners like
Mackenna's Gold, Ben Hur etc. These films fueled my
imagination incredibly. I was presented with a Rolleiflex
camera when I was 16. I used to take pictures and
make the prints done.
sister was married to cinematographer S Gopal Reddy.
I approached S Gopal Reddy and asked him to take me
as an apprentice. He initially refused and later took
me in. I entered film industry in 1985 as an assistant
to S Gopal Reddy. People think that it was an advantage
for me to have brother-in-law like S Gopal Reddy.
Actually it worked as disadvantage to me, because
he consciously avoided doing any favors to me. My
colleagues used to get promotions in quick time. I
worked as 1st apprentice for three years. Then I worked
as 3rd assistant for 3 more years. During that time,
I was preferred to handle the cinematography when
S Gopal Reddy was stuck with some other important
I was offered the film Raithu Bharatam with Krishna
as hero in the direction of Chitti Babu. But it was
stalled in the mid-way. I knew Ram Gopal Varma even
before he became director. We used to spend time together
and share ideas. Ramu offered me to assist him in
direction department which I rejected. Then he took
Teja in as an assistant.
Menon was supposed to operate the steady cam for Shiva
film and he left Shiva film after working for 2-3
days. Then I learnt about steady cam operation through
a crash course. And did steady cam work for Shiva.
It needs us to strap the camera around our chest and
run to shoot chase sequences. Those chases of Shiva
film got tremendous appreciation.
was shooting for Antham film and he had differences
with cinematographer Teja during the end of the shoot.
Ramu asked me to chip in and finish off the work.
He was satisfied with my work and offered me the film
was my first complete film as cinematographer. During
the same time, Raithu Bharatam was revived and Gayam
dates clashed with that of Raithu Bharatam. Hence,
they took somebody else to complete Raithu Bharatam.
Gayam's cinematography has got mood and feel. I think
no other film exploited Vizag in such a beautiful
way. For a song in that film, I used lighting of street
lights as base and it got tremendous appreciation.
I won Nandi award for my work in Gayam.
I was offered the film Allari Alludu. I am the kind
of idealistic guy who has certain set of rules about
how my films are going to be. Allari Alludu was a
total mass masala entertainer and it needs regular
commercial lighting patterns. I was bit hesitant first,
but later on decided to try my hand at it. It was
Nagarjuna's first hardcore mass film and he opened
up a lot as mass hero in that film. That film was
released. I was paid incredible amount as remuneration.
I got appreciation for my work as well. But I went
into depression, because I made that film. I was very
conscious about how my work should be.
always did films that gave me incredible name as cinematographer.
But I never exploited the recognition in commercial
way as I always wanted to make films that give me
was in very much demand and used to reject most of
the films. I was with Ramu most of the times. Then
I did Gulabi, Ramudocchadu, Money Money, Little Soldires,
Daud etc. I shot the songs of Rangeela on the request
of Ram Gopal Varma. Cinematographer for that film
was WV Rao. I rejected an offer from Ramu to do cinematography
to Satya film. That resulted in breaking up of our
was not happy with Bollywood films. After doing Kohram
film, I decided to come back to Hyderabad and work
for Telugu films. I worked for Teja's Chitram, Family
Circus and Nuvvu Nenu. I got Nandi award for Nuvvu
Nenu and that was my last film as cinematographer.
am not for sale. And I always want to do work that
I like. That is my mind set. When I go to sleep every
night, I should be having good work satisfaction.
I wanted to become a director. It was not a smooth
sail. I met ARS Prasad and convinced him with Okariki
Okaru story. That is how Okariki Okaru happened. And
now I completed Bhageeratha which is due for release
on 12th of this month.
is the feedback you got for Okariki Okaru?
Lot of people loved that film. They stamped me as
a class director with that film. But I think only
50% of my talent was exploited in Okariki Okaru.
did you extract such a different music from Keeravani
for that film?
Generally directors narrate situations to the music
directors to get music. Some other times, the lyrics
would form as base for music composing. But for Okariki
Okaru, I used to explain visuals of that song to Keeravani,
he came up with the appropriate sound. That is how
Okariki Okaru music formed.
you are doing a commercial film called Bhageeratha.
Which one is easy? Doing commercial film or different
Doing different film is very difficult as you need
to really think. To make a commercial film, you need
to dumb down a bit.
you reduce your level of filmmaking to do commercial
film like Bhageeratha?
Bhageeratha is not a regular commercial film. It is
my kind of commercial film. You should watch the film
to know about it yourself.
us about Bhageeratha?
It is about a common guy from a village who comes
to city and faces challenges. The main concept of
the film is how Bhageeratha achieves it all and yet
remains unchanged at heart. It has a very idealistic
is an entertaining film. I do not like to preach through
films. However, there would be pretty nice moments
and inspiring aspects undercurrent.
developed the script first and then decided to cast
Ravi Teja as it suits him the best.
am very happy with the final product. Lots of people
are in for surprise big time with Bhageeratha.
is Bhageeratha project delayed?
Initially Bhageeratha and Bhadra films were supposed
to be shot simultaneously. But later on they decided
to complete the shoot of Bhadra first. It also helped
Bhageeratha as Bhadra become a big hit. The number
of shooting days for Bhageeratah is 75.
did you not keep ample time between release of the
audio and the film?
It is producer's strategy. I do not know details about
are you favorite directors?
Cameroon: I like the way he inserts all emotions
in his films.
Stone: All his films are experiments. At the
same time, they are entertaining too.
Akthar: I loved Dil Chahta Hain film a lot.
But pretty much disaapointed with Lakshya.
Tarantino: I like his non-leaner style of story
narration. Watching his films are like reading good
books. You need to watch them again and again to
get finer nuances.
are your favorite films?
Matrix and T2. There are many more, but am able unable
to recollect them.
are your future projects?
I have a vague script in mind. I would be working
do you stay away from press?
I am basically a private man. I cannot handle too
much of attention. I open up only few days before
release of my films.
and emotions! Which one do you prefer?
I do prefer emotional content. When I watch a film
what I carry back is the emotional content it offers.
I don't remember the technique used. I think a filmmaker
should give more value to emotions than the technique.
are such a private man. How do you get projects, if
you don't go around narrating scripts?
I don't like to narrate script to 100 people. For
Bhageeratha I narrated the script to just one person
and the film was made. Most of the people are under
misconception that great story tellers are great directors.
My grandmother is very good at narrating stories.
But she can't be a director.
are your hobbies?
I am a games freak. I am kid at heart. I play Play
Station most of the times. My brain needs to be stimulated
all the time and hence I play games. I feel that my
thoughts are my best friends. If I am not working,
I would be sleeping.
you have any message to the visitors of idlebrain.com?
I was born in Rajahmundry and I achieved something
in my life. I used to play cricket a lot when I was
a kid. When I went to Rajahmundry recently, that playground
was dug up. I want to donate some money and do something
to it. All the people who are reading this interview
might have similar affection towards their roots.
It might be pocket money to you, but it means a lot
to the people back where you belong. Please try to
help the villages you came from. These small things
will make a big difference to somebody.
Raju Sundaram (Choreographer)
SS Rajamouli (Director)
Sameer Reddy (Cinematographer)
Marthand K Venkatesh
Sayaji Shinde (Villain)
Gowri Mumjal (Heroine)
MS Raju (Producer)