I belong to Vellore in Tamil Nadu which is situated 30 km away from Chittoor. My place has lot of Telugus. I was fascinated by films and during my pursuing of +1 I decided to join films. I did not have any film connections. I wanted to join film institute. The prerequisite to join film institute was graduation degree. I joined and completed my degree with the sole purpose of getting eligibility to join film institute. Then I joined Adayar film institute in Chennai. Raja who directed Hanuman Junction was my classmate then. I joined Raja to assist him in Hanuman Junction film. I worked in film industry since 1999. Editor Mohan was the first one who gave me encouragement. I learn how to deal the subject practically and how to catch pulse of audience from Editor Mohan. Sukumar (Arya director) was my colleague in Editor Mohan’s office. When Sukumar started Arya film I jumped in the team. We all worked really hard so that film would become a hit. Dil Raju observed my work during Arya and offered me direction chance in the midway saying that he would make me a director if Arya were a hit. Later on I worked for Bhadra. As per his promise, Dil Raju launched me as a director with Bommarillu.
Where did you get the story idea of Bommarillu?
This story point was conceived by me when I was in film institute. It started with the thread of a small communication gap between father and son. Then the idea of making girl stay in boy’s place for seven days. And the rolling titles. After that I did not give a serious thought about developing this story idea into a script. But Sukumar had always been reminding me to develop this story idea. I told him that some flavor was missing. Later on I decided on the characterization of heroine. The heroine’s characterization excited me a lot. Vasu (co-director of VV Vinayak) helped me a lot with this script as Sukumar is busy with another film. Myself and Vasu developed the first version of the script and narrated it to Dil Raju. It excited him.
The emotions in this film are genuine. I included my own experiences and the things I observed in our neighborhood into to the film. I used to laugh when somebody used to say that they cried while narrating the emotional part of the script. I realized the truth about it when I cried while narrating the climax scene of Bommarillu to Dil Raju. We cried even when we shot the climax episode of the film. Even the audiences are feeling the same way while watching climax of the film in theater.
You said the you incorporated your own experiences in this film. What are they?
1. Father - son relationship: I used to get internally effected when my father tried to be a good father by providing me all I need. I took the attitude aspect of my father and me in this film and applied it to Prakash Raj and Siddharth. I never want to hurt my father for the love he shower. The lifestyle shooting scene is also inspired by my own experience. I always wanted to wear certain colors and styles that suit my looks. But my father used to come to shop along with me and select wield colors like red and used to feel happy about it. I felt really frustrated to wear cloths that I don’t like and still was forced because it makes my father feel happy.
2. Genelia introduction: It happened I real life. I accidentally bumped into a girl and my head collided with her. I told her sorry and moved on. She called me back. I told her sorry again. Then she said, “kommulu raava naaku?”. I became curious and asked her about it. Then she said that I should collide my head again with her in order to avoid getting kommulu. When I suggested that incident as introduction scene in the film, Vasu said that it would be better if we make it as a thread and run it throughout the entire film.
3. Beautician sister character: I am afraid to go to my hometown because I fear my sister will get upset about it. I got inspired by sister’s fascination towards beautician profession. She used to do facials to us and charge 100 rupees. I used all those incidents in sister character of Bommarillu.
4. Vadina character: The character of Vadina is inspired by my vadina. She used to refer very casually when they are alone and used to give lot of respect to husband when our family is around.
5. Mother singing: My friend’s mother used to sing a lot in her kitchen. She loves her family and kitchen so much and she used to sing while cooking.
6. Freedom with limitations: When I narrated this story to my mother, she asked me why should parents give complete freedom to kids. That is when I decided that freedom should be given with some limitations to it. That is the reason why I inserted an appropriate yet lengthy dialogue to Kota by breaking the last pathos song.
What are your favorite scenes?
1. The father - son confrontation scene. As a writer I used to have little bit of angriness for father’s character. But after I shot the Prakash Raj’s collapse scene, I developed sympathy towards father character.
2. Girl leaving scene: The reasons why she left Prakash Raj house are very convincing.
3. Genelia introduction: I loved this scene. May be because its taken from my own experience.
4. I love you scene: There is a bit of dramatization as I brought Neha character into the scene, but enjoyed it immensely.
5. All scenes in first half that involve father-son relationship establishment.
6. The scenes in Kota house during rolling titles. I had little argument with Dil Raju to keep these scenes in the film. I was very much confident that audiences wont leave the theater while watching those scenes though the film was over. I had many more scenes scripted for that part, but could not shot them due to some practical problems.
Here are the few points I would like to add
1. Siddharth is a kind of guy who is unable to do what he want to do in life. Genelia is a girl who does only things she like. By keeping these two characters very contrast, it was an easy job to develop attraction between them.
2. The girl character should be able to felicitate the communication between father and son. She should let each other know about their respective shortcomings. The screenplay aspect in second half is interesting as we all think that Siddharth brought Genelia to his home to show his family members how good she is. But it turns out to be reverse. And she lets father and son know about their respective problems.
3. Genelia’s characterization and mannerism made a lot of difference. She is hyperactive and keeps jumping even when she is eating.
Is there any scene which you did not like in Bommarillu?
I always give more importance to the small details. Half of my script consist of those small details. I find literature more exciting because there is lot of importance to small details in it. I always feel that the quality of film enhances if you incorporate more and more small details. I should have added more small details and I am capable of it. If I were given more time, I would have taken this film to next level by incorporating more finer details. It is the small details that differentiates great directors from other directors. Mani Ratnam gives lot of importance to these small details.
I will try to incorporate more smaller details in my next film as I am sure I will get lot of time to make my next one.
Did you decide upon casting while doing the script of Bommarillu?
No. I write the story first. Then I decide on who suits my characters better. Siddharth is great. I wanted to have a cute girl for heroine. Genelia is apt. I don’t have any alternative for father role except Prakash Raj. He loved the character and he designed the body language. Kota brought so much into the film with his improvisation. He designed his character in this film. I made sure that I had Jayasuda doing the role of mother and I fought with Dil Raju to get her.
Tell us about the technicians?
Vijay Chakravarthy (cinematographer): Vijaya Chakravarthy was my senior at Film school. He worked for 60% of Arya film as cinematographer when Ratna Velu made himself unavailable due to his dates for Tamil films. He used very soft light throughout the film. He is very particular about colors. There is terrific coordination between cinematography, art director and costume designer.
Abburi Ravi (dialogues): It was Vasu who suggested me Abburi Ravi’s name. He got very good name with this film. We wanted the dialogues to be natural and we did not want dramatization. We used the technique of conversations. We used to assume character in the film and used to talk to each other in a closed room with the voice recorder on. We used pick good lines from those casual conversations and keep them as dialogues. It was Abburi Ravi who molded the character of Sunil. We did not want to forcibly insert fun scenes with Sunil. In stead we tried to bring in humor with in the narration we decided upon.
Devi Sri Prasad: Devi promised me that he would give a better audio than Arya. There are two ways of getting music done. Either we can give music references or give him a free hand by explaining the song situations. I gave him a free hand. And he came up fabulous music.
Marthand K Venkatesh: The footage we got in the final version was 16,200 feet which comes to around 3 hours and 15 minutes. It was Marthand K Venkatesh who trimmed it to 15,100 feet which comes to around 2 hours and 50 minutes. The scene of Neha calling Siddharth when he was expecting a call from Genelia was removed from the script even before the shoot. It was Venkatesh who insisted that I should shoot it. It was Venkatesh who asked me shoot all the scenes that I wanted to have in the film. He asked me not to bother about the length of the film. He assured that he would take care of the length at the editing table. He gave us a lot of moral support. He gave lot of assurance and confidence about the success of the film whenever Dil Raju visited the editing room.
What is your favorite film?
I would like to talk about one film that fascinated me the most. That is an Iranian film titled ‘Children of Heaven’ directed by Majid Majidi. I saw that when I attended a film festival while pursuing my film course. That film changed my perspective about films. Director has taken a very minute problem and created high emotional film out of it. I collapsed in theater seat, cried and refused to leave even after 15 minutes. That film haunts me. Even today, that film is in my thoughts when I direct a film.
There might be lots of films. But it was the first film that brought new outlook towards my opinions about films.
Who are your favorite directors?
Mani Ratnam and Ram Gopal Varma.
You used your personal life experiences to make Bommarillu. What kind of films can we expect in future?
I don’t fix to this genre because Bommarillu has become a hit. I loved Aadi film as much as I loved Anand. My next film will be a love story with an action backdrop. This story line too is based on real life experience I witnessed.
There is another dream project in the pipeline. I would do it very soon. I love that script very much. I am getting immense enjoyment while penning that script. I make sure that there is a lovely father character in all my films. I make sure that all my future projects will be sensible.
What kind of compliments did you get for Bommarillu?
I thought the movie would become a hit. But never expected such kind of feedback. Most of the people who called me yesterday were telling me about Jeevi review in idlebrain.com in stead of telling me how good the movie was. SS Rajamouli was the first person to call me and congratulated me for the characterizations in Bommarillu and professed that it would become a super hit.
When we watched the preview of Bommarillu we felt it to be very fresh though we conceived the entire film and worked over each scene and shot for many times. First appreciation came from Vasu when we watched the first copy.
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