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Interview with Venkat Kuchipudi by Jeevi
Date: 20th October 2005

Venkat Kuchipudi is an anarchist who defies conventions and breaks the rules. He worked his way for many years to become a director. His first film 'Modati Cinema' is releasing on 21st of October. met Venkat Kuchipudi at Rama Naidu Studios when he was supervising DTS work. Here are the excerpts -

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I am born in Raghudevapuram village (near Rajahmundry) and completed my schooling in LPS, Guntur. I did my plus one and plus two in Chennai. After plus two I wanted to go to film school, but my parents made sure that I complete my degree in Hyderabad by 1990.

I always wanted to direct a film. Since I need some solid financial backup, I worked in a couple of lines of business which gave me decent money. I was even willing to produce the film myself if I don't get a producer.

You did not work as assistant to any director. Is it a disadvantage?
When one makes a film, one should know the following two things -

1. How to narrate a story
2. Commonsense

The above two qualities coupled with the exposure of watching many films would be sufficient to become a director. I developed my directorial skills by watching lots of films. If you are interested in certain thing, it automatically comes to you.

You don't believe in working as assistant director?
The assistant directors end up utterly wasting their time by doing clerical work. Assistant directors don't contribute much to the creative work. They end up doing work like noting down continuity reports and editing reports. In stead of working as assistant director, one can sit at home and watch films on cable TV. If you watch movies made by legends repeatedly, you would gain more experience than any assistant director gets by working for years.

What about learning practical stuff and technical aspects of filmmaking?
You take a DVD and watch it once as an audience. The next time you watch it, keep it in mute mode. And try to concentrate on scenes and how director conceived them. By doing so, you would develop a knack at it. If you want to learn it practically, you may go to set. And for entire day, they would end up shooting a couple scenes. It is waste of time to go to sets to learn direction.

Who inspires you as a debutant director without any practical work experience?
KV Reddy, Bapu, Ram Gopal Varma, Nagesh Kukunoor and Sekhar Kammula. All these people made it without any practical experience. I feel that it is necessary to have good academic background.

I heard about a project a couple of years back with you as director. What happened to it?
I narrated the subject to Kunduru Ramana Reddy. At that time he felt that the film's budget was too high. He asked me to prepare another story. Meanwhile, my friend Lagadapati Sridhar asked me to narrate a story. I narrated the story of Modati Cinema. He okayed it. But his plans have changed after that. I returned to Ramana Reddy and that is how Modati Cinema happened.

Tell us about Modati Cinema?
Modati Cinema is a love story with lots of entertainment stuffed in. 80% of the films that are releasing these days are love stories. I tried to make this love story different from others with unique presentation. Like any other love stories, this film too has problems which main leads had to solve. In addition to it, fate plays a vital role in this film. There are certain things which are beyond your thinking that play a major influence in your life. Sometimes, unbelievable things happen. We can attribute it to the aspect of fate combined with human effort.

Tell us about technical team of Modati Cinema?

Sirivennela: I know Sirivennela for the past 10 years. I directed a music album called 'New Sense' and he wrote lyrics. Sirivennela was impressed with me and promised me that he would pen lyrics for my first film. And he is the man of words. He listened to the story and worked out of his way to pen lyrics for songs in this film. He is the highest paid lyricist in Telugu film industry. He charges more not to earn money but to make sure that he works only for limited and passionate filmmakers. He had to say no to two films because he worked overtime for Modati Cinema. He is a perfectionist and would not get satisfied till he reaches the standards he set for himself. He wrote more than 30 versions for Ninnaina song before arriving at the final version.

Sameer Reddy: Sameer Reddy is a close buddy of me. I know him from my childhood days in Rajahmundry. I am very comfortable with Sameer Reddy. He is a terrific cinematographer. His specialty lies in shooting sky. He is a sky freak. He works very fast too. Generally artists are sensitive people with fluctuating temperament. When we shoot a scene, we go for master shots (wide long range shots) and close-ups. And between these shots, its takes hell lot of time to get the lighting perfectly. In that gap, the mood/emotion of the artist changes. It's very hard for them to get back on the same mood. Sameer works so fast that the time taken for these gaps is minimal. He is very confident of his work, yet not arrogant.

Srikar Prasad: Srikar Prasad is unarguably one of the best film editors in the entire India. He won national award for his editing 5 times. It was an enlightening experience to work with him. He is ultra fast when it comes to working on avid monitors. He is like a magician at work. The final version has come to 2:45 hrs. He trimmed the film by 17 minutes by just trimming the frames without deleting any scene. Each second consists of 24 frames. Imagine how many frames he deleted to trim 17 minutes of the film. That shows his precision and experience at the art of film editing. And he did it all by keeping the RR (rerecording) length in sync.

Swaraj: Lyricist Surendra Krishna introduced me to Swaraj. He came to me with a guitar and his own lyrics. The moment I listened to his tunes, I selected him as the music director instantly. I gave him good budget and lots of freedom. He went to Kerala, Chennai and Mumbai to select instrument players and singers. And finally came up with extraordinary tunes for Modati Cinema.

What about the lead pair?
Navadeep would go places. He is already signed in half a dozen of films. He is an intelligent artist and a street smart guy. Poonam has already got craze. She is signed in a couple of project even before the release of her first film.

What is the number of working days?
We went to shoot with the bound script. And it took 59 days. We never had any re-shoots.

How many prints are you releasing the film with?
35 prints.

What is your suggestion to the youngsters who want to make films without any experience?
Since is very much frequented by NRIs, I would like to suggest the director wannabes among NRIs to not to look for safely and leave it all to come here and make films. You should follow your dreams. Direction is not different from doing any software program. All it needs is commonsense and passion. You should also have story telling ability and clarity. Anybody with adequate education qualification with the above qualities can become a director.

Other Interviews
Rasool Ellore
(Cinematographer & Director)
Raju Sundaram (Choreographer)
SS Rajamouli (Director)
Sameer Reddy (Cinematographer)
Marthand K Venkatesh (Editor)
Sayaji Shinde (Villain)
Shashank (Hero)
Gangaraju Gunnam (Producer)
Meghana Naidu (Heroine)
Venkatesh (Hero)
Gowri Mumjal (Heroine)
Deepak (Hero)
Siddardh (Hero)
MS Raju (Producer)
Chiranjeevi (Hero)


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