us about your background and how you entered into
I was born in Mana Madhurai and did schooling over
there. I joined BITS Pilani in 1991 and completed
by graduation in 1995. Then I went to USA to do MS
in Mass Communications with an ancillary in Film Theory
in University of Florida. I completed my MS in 1997.
was always immesely interested in writing. I wrote
stage plays when I was studying in BITS. Mani Rathnams
Roja affected me a lot. I could not sleep the day
I watched Roja film. That is when I decided to enter
like an average Bitsian, I too was born in a middleclass
family. My father wanted me to study well and do a
job that guarantees good living. He wanted me to concentrate
more on education and less on extracurricular activities.
When I got admission into MS in Mass Communication,
I convinced my father that I would work in news channels
like CNN when I complete it. But deep down my I heart,
I knew that I would become a filmmaker. I procured
the phone number of Mani Rathnam through internet
in 1996. I penned it down on a piece of paper and
started looking at that paper everyday. I did not
dare to call then because I want to be perfect on
my side when I call him up.
thesis subject was Comparative study of production
technique in Hollywood and Indian Cinema. I attended
all film screenings in my campus for those two years.
I used to watch 2 films a day irrespective of the
languages. The day my thesis subject was approved
I decided to call up Mani Rathnam.
that day, I was in my room with my roommate. My roommate
placed coffee in a micro-oven and went into kitchen
to bring some sugar. I called up Mani Rathnam and
luckily he picked it up. I told him that I am a student
of MS and am interested in working with him. He asked
me to send him my resume. Then my roommate came out
of kitchen and I told him that news. In an impulsive
way he said, My coffee is still not ready. But
your future is ready.
receiving resume Mani Rathnam called me and asked
me if I knew Tamil. I told him that I was in Tamil
medium till my +2. He asked me to write a story and
send it to him. I wrote a small story in Tamil and
sent it to Mani Rathnam. Mani Rathnam asked me to
meet him when I come to India after completion of
MS. I sent the same story to a popular Tamil Magazine
Ananda Vikatan. Ananda Vikatan published
completed my MS and returned to India. I took an appointment
with Mani Rathnam. He was impressed with me and agreed
to take me in direction department. But he asked me
to wait for 2 more months as he dont want to
keep me idle without any work or designation. When
I told my father about my plans of getting into films,
he was worried and asked me about my job in CNN. When
I told him that I would be working with Mani Rathnam,
my father agreed.
was hired by Mani Rathnam 20 days before the last
schedule of Dil Se film. My first day
of shoot included the canning of Chayya Chayya
song. It was a thrilling first day. I was designated
to supervise sound effects for Dil Se.
was my first complete film as assistant director.
Me and Shahid Ali (director of Bunty & Babli)
were the assistant directors for that film. I was
involved in script, casting and dubbing where as Shahid
Ali was involved in art and costumes. The whole unit
of Sakhi was comprised of youth barring Mani Rathnam.
That is when I saw how my master Mani Rathnam used
his creativity in transferring the script on to the
screen. After the completion of Sakhi, Mani Rathnam
said that we are ready to direct films.
Ali made his debut as director in Hindi with Saathiya
(Hindi remake of Sakhi). Vikram Singh offered me to
direct a Tamil film titled Acham Thavir (Fear Not)
with Madhavan and Jyothika in the main leads in the
year 2001. After a shoot of 20-days, the producer
went into deep financial debt due to failures of 3
films he just made. We tried to revive it, but could
not manage financial support. That film was shelved.
the shooting of that film, we went to Syria, Damascus
to shoot a song. But none of our crewmembers had passports.
When I requested Mani Rathnam for help, he gave me
Siddardha. Siddardha came to Syria and we worked together.
He was the best assistant director I had seen so far.
He became the pillar of strength and we developed
deep friendship. That film was stopped and our friendship
continued. Since then we used to meet at our houses
for coffee and discuss lots of things about filmmaking.
Siddardha told me that he got an offer in Boyz as
did a couple of commercials and money was really good.
But I did not want to get lured by money and loose
my objective of filmmaking. I went back to Mani Rathnam
and joined him again. He appointed me as the chief
assistant director for Hindi version of Yuva film.
Siddardha worked as an actor in Telugu/Tamil versions.
the release of Yuva, Siddardha worked for NVNV. After
the release of NVNV Siddardha narrated me the story
of Chukkallo Chandrudu. He also said that I would
be directing that film and he would act. KS Rama Rao
asked Siddardha for his dates and Siddardha suggested
my name as the director. KS Rama Rao enquired Pani
(Mentor of Mani who works in Mani Rathnams office)
for my credentials. I narrated film to KS Rama Rao
and he immediately liked it. But I need a person who
knows complete Telugu in writing department. That
is where Kona Venkat stepped in. Myself, Siddardha
and Kona Venkat sat together to develop the final
version of the script. We three share the screenplay
credits for CC.
are you promising the film lovers with your film Chukkallo
It is going to be a nice entertainer without any serious
sociological message in it. It is basically a feel-good
film that can be enjoyed by the whole family. The
entire film is laced with nice humor. This film relays
heavily on the characterizations of ANR, Siddardha,
Sada, Charmee & Saloni. Characterizations and
performances would make the magic work in Chukkallo
strengths of the films are
Feel good factor where you can smile and enjoy
2. Performances of lead actors
3. Identifiable moments
4. Music that clicks with the youth
How is it like working with the living legend ANR
in your debut film?
He is a true legend with a rich experience of 65 years
and all throughout he is on the top. I was very nervous
when I went to narrate story to him. After listening
to the story, he said that I am like his grandson.
But since I am a director, I should be treating him
like a kid. The only problem I had with ANR is that
he comes to sets even before the prescribed time.
That put lots of discipline into us.
How is it like working with a versatile producer
like KS Rama Rao?
He looks old in terms of age, but he is pretty youthful
at heart. You can see that energy in grueling tasks
like locations scouting. He is basically a passionate
lover of films. I still remember an incident that
happened in our abroad shoot. Since light was fading
faster, we shot the film nonstop till 4 pm. I made
sure that everybody is offered the food first and
then I took the plate as the last person. Then I observed
KS Rama Rao still waiting for me to start my food.
KS Rama Rao is a true leader and lead us by an example.
Are you nervous about your films release?
Result of this film is definitely going to affect
me either in a good way or a bad way. Strangely, I
am not really nervous. I am the kind of guy who loves
the journey. I know that I can control the process,
but not the results.
comfortable are you with Telugu?
I leant Telugu and I would love to Continue in Telugu.
For a medium like cinema, language is never a hindrance.
did BITS help you shaping up your personality?
BITS changed my personality. I improved my English
a lot as I came from Tamil medium. It taught me to
be positive in life and it made me learn to be independent.
I still dream about BITS. BITS gives us flexibility
to choose our own profession. And it makes you a global
1. India: Shivaji Ganesan, ANR, Dileep Kumar and Kamal
2. Hollywood: Gene Hackman & Robert De Niro
2. Katharine Hepburn
1. Hollywood: Martin Scorsese (I worship him)
2. India: Guru Dutt, Mani Rathnam, K Bala Chandar
and K Viswanath
List is endless, here are the best among the bests
3. Sagara Sangamam
4. Annie Hall
5. Taxi Driver
6. Citizen Kane
are your hobbies?
2. Listening to all sorts of music
Are you married?
Yes I am married to Maya,who works in British Counsel
Venkat Kuchipudi (Director)
(Cinematographer & Director)
SS Rajamouli (Director)
Sameer Reddy (Cinematographer)
Marthand K Venkatesh
Sayaji Shinde (Villain)
Gowri Mumjal (Heroine)
MS Raju (Producer)