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Postmortem - Vedam by Krish
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What is this post mortem? is starting this exclusive, explosive and exciting section called Postmortem, where we conduct a postmortem of the latest releases. We shall be discussing and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the movies with their respective directors as to why those films have become hits/flops. We request the directors to give us their honest and frank opinions.
Vedam by Krish

Director Krish has come like a whiff of a fresh air and infused new lease of life into the Telugu cinema path with his movie Gamyam and Vedam. Both these movies received tremendous critical acclaim and box office returns. Despite being a multi-folded film laced with a great dose of human values, his latest film Vedam movie is doing well at box office. has caught up with Krish for post mortem. Here is the first part of Vedam post mortem -

Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum
After Gamyam, Venkatesh has given me dates and I was supposed to do Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum with him. I always believe that story should form at its own pace, naturally. Though we could pen the entire story, the conclusion (climax) was not shaping up in the way we wanted it to be. I also opined that there was no 100% honesty in my work for that project. I worked for that story for eight months and Venkatesh waited for that script to complete for 6 months. On 4 January 2009, I went to Venkatesh and told him that I couldn’t ‘conclude’ the story and we called it quits for the time-being.

Vedam links:
Jeevi Review
Allu Arjun interview
Photo gallery

Working stills
US schedules

Origin of Vedam
Ever since I was a kid I always had this visual of a feeble old man walking away with a small kid for a long time in my dreams, thoughts and in imaginations. I wanted to tell that story. But that concept is too arty and it’s not complete. During the December 2008, we (I, cinematographer Gnana Sekhar and editor Shravan) went to Vignan, Vadlamudi and I delivered a speech to the enthusiastic students at their cultural festival. It’s been habit for me to stop at Amaravathi and get inspiration for my stories. I visited Vaikhuntapuram temple and took the blessings of God there. A small girl and a little boy recognized me as Gamyam director and they told me that they watched the film. When I asked that little girl Vaishnavi about what she liked in Gamyam she said, “It told how a human being should be like.” I was extremely impressed by the way she remembered the movie and it gave reaffirmation that a good film on humanity will always be liked by everybody.

I was travelling in our SUV from Guntur to Hyderabad and that is when I opened up and told my DoP Gnana Sekhar the story of Ramulu (I had Jalayya as oldman’s name at that time). The second story I conceived initially was about a film crew travelling from another metro to Hyderabad to receive an award. I changed it to music band later.

Interesting tit-bits
• The title of Vedam stuck to him when he was penning story at Sirivennela's home.
• Krish wanted to do the character of Karpooram, but decided against it after his mom warned him.
• Anushka reduced her remuneration by 30% to work for Vedam.
• Raheemuddin Khureshi (character played by Manoj Bajpai) is the name of Krish's best friend in intermediate.
• Nagayya was spotted by Krish on roads when he was asking for money from the passers-by.

I used to go to Novotel hotel since 2004 for every new year. I had a resolution that I will also celebrate new year after I become a director. Finally I decided to celebrate my new year only in the year 2009. I had so much fun that night that I forgot my address. I went to Sirivennela’s residence next day. Sasirekha Parinayam was releasing on that day and Krishna Vamsi was in the room of Sirivennela. I sat there in the hall and took some stationary and started penning story. That is when the title Vedam suddenly stuck me. That is where I developed the other characters of slum boy Anand Raj who wants to go up the social ladder. I also conceieved a story for a sex worked called Chamanthi (later changed to Saroja).

When I thought about ending of the movie, I took the 26/11 Mumbai blasts in Taj hotel as an inspiration. I had a climax of five characters meeting in the climax of the movie. Initially I had a pair called Rama Krishna – Nurbi for the fifth story, but later changed it to Raheemuddin Khureshi.

After getting the basic story ready, I decided to produce Vedam on my own banner First Frame entertainment. My parents were more than willing to produce the movie. I was with Prakash (son of K Raghavendra Rao) and Shobu told me about his small budgeted movie titled Maryada Ramanna with Sunil in Rajamouli’s direction. I narrated the story of Vedam film to Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni. Prasad is a tough nut to crack and he didn’t respond to me immediately. He called me over phone in 15 minutes and told me in an excited voice that we are going to do Vedam together.

Writing Vedam script is very difficult and at the same time it is also very easy. For a normal movie with a single story, we need to write 70 good scenes. For a film of 5 stories, all we need is 20 good scenes for each of the story. I took the help of Venkatesh Chakravarthy (director of Rama Naidu Film School). He is the script consultant for Vedam and he guided me in structuring the script. The first story I wrote for this film was that of Saroja.

Each story in this movie has oneness and each story has a conflict point.

1. Saroja is bonded to Rathamma and she sells her body.
2. Kid is bonded to Patel and his mother/grandfather sell their body (kidneys)
3. Cable Raju is caged to slums and he is selling himself to move up the ladder.
4. Raheemuddin Khureshi is caged in this country and he wants to go to Dubai.
5. Vivek Chakravarthy is caged in the expectations set by his mother and he want to fly free.

While doing the screenplay, we made sure that the transition is thematic and ultra smooth. The timeline and travel of all the characters are in tandem.

1. In the embassy, Raheemuddin says that he want to fly to Dubai tomorrow (31 December)
2. Right in the next scene Ramulu/Padma are asked to go to Hyderabad on the next day ( 31 Dec)
3. Right in the next scene Cable Raju is told by receptionist that a couple pass costs Rs 40,000. He need to procure that money by tomorrow (31 Dec)
4. In the next scene we have Saroja’s song Egiripothe entha baguntundi which thematically talks about flying from the cage.

Five elements
It may not look obvious when you analyse the five characters, but I had taken five elements as base for the five characters in the movie

1. Saroja (Water): Water flows constantly and it carries all the impurities along with it. Saroja can’t stay at one place and she takes impurities from men.
2. Vivk Chakravarthy (Air): It’s all about music and resonance. Most of the instruments used for his character are wind-based.
3. Ramulu (Earth): He is bonded to earth. Body means matti (earth). He (Padma) sells his body.
4. Raheemuddin (Fire): He is intense and short-tempered.
5. Cable Raju (Sky): He wants to be on top and he reaches for the sky. That is why we used low-angle shots for him so that sky is visible in the background.


Cable Raju (Allu Arjun)
I wanted to make this movie with new comers. But it all changed when I got a call from Bunny (Allu Arjun). He evinced interest about working with me and asked me if I had any scripts for him. I told him that I am going to do a film titled Vedam and it is a multi-actor script. I gave a brief narration of 15 minutes and he told that he would do the character of Anand Raj (cable Raju). I told him that it is a complex script and I need complete freedom. I also told him that this film might not live up to the box office image he is carrying. He insisted that he will work for Vedam.

After two months, he called me again and asked about the progress. I was ready with the entire script and gave him the complete narration. It was fun to narrate to him as he would enact the scenes as I give him narration. He loved the script and expressed his caution against the climax which has terrorism backdrop. I asked him to blindly trust me regarding the climax. He kept faith in me.

I had another worrying factor about Bunny. Vedam is a medium budget film and we can’t afford his remuneration. Bunny gave us three options – he can be a part-producer, he can reduce his remuneration or he could take remuneration after the release when we recover our investment. He also said that it is his solo decision and there is no need to narrate Vedam story to Allu Arvind. Incidentally, Vedam is the first film which Bunny has signed a film on his own without the involvement of Allu Arvind.

Vivek Chakravarthy (Manoj Manchu)
I asked RaNa to play the role of Vivek Chakravarthy. I narrated the entire script and he loved it. He has also given some nice suggestion and I implemented all his suggestions in the movie. I would love to narrate all my future scripts to him as he is a terrific script doctor. As RaNa was doing Leader, Suresh Babu said that RaNa can’t act in Vedam unless the shoot for Leader is complete. Bunny suggested Manoj’s name and said that he would convince Manoj to do the character of rock star. Manoj accepted to do this character without even listening to the story/script. He has also taken a solo decision (with of the involvement of Mohan Babu) for this film.

Saroja (Anushka)
Anushka has great personality, beautiful eyes and innocence that is required for Saroja character. It took around 3 months for me to get the appointment of Anushka. She was sitting in the coffee shop of Novotel when she gave me an appointment. She is a highly professional actress and it is very easy to narrate the script to Anushka. After listening to the script, she asked me who were cast for Karpuram character. I told that I wanted to do the Karpooram character, but my mom didn’t allow me as she fears that nobody would marry me if I do that character. She suggested that I should have a look at her make-up man Nikki. I nervously asked if she were going to play Saroja character. She said, “yes, of course”. My next worry was her remuneration. When I asked about it she quoted the remuneration she takes for her movies and asked me to give whatever we could afford. That day I knew that three major stars were working for Vedam.

Raheemuddin Khureshi (Manoj Bajpai)
Raheemuddin Khureshi is the name of my best friend of my inter days (Vikas College, Guntur). Later he did his MBBS from Deccan. I lost touch with him when I went to USA in 1998. I am expecting him to call me and re-connect with me after watching Vedam.

It was again Bunny who suggested the name of Manoj Bajpai as he worked with Manoj in Happy movie. I also approached Manoj when I was casting for my supposedly debut project ‘But, India Divided”. We went to Mumbai to meet Manoj Bajpai and he was working for Jail movie. He is an intense guy and it was tough to narrate to him. He has already rejected me for the movie But, India Divided. Hence I gave him a narration by enacting scenes myself. After listening to the script, he asked me when I need his dates.

Ramulu (Nagayya)
Ramulu character is the heart of the movie and I didn’t want any traditional existing actor to do it. I want a 60-years old lean guy with helpless looks and feeble voice. I noticed a lean and old man asking for money on the road. I got a jolt by looking at him as I wanted a guy of those qualities for Ramulu character. When I stopped car at him, he asked me for money. When I said, “I will give you money, will you act in my film?”, he just gave a puzzling laugh. I gave him a note of Rs 100/- and click his photo with my mobile phone.

I got a call from RaNa for a meet at 8 pm that and I came out of my residence to go there. Nagayya was sitting beside my car holding onto it. He said in his feeble voice, “saaru, cinema sestanu saaru.” I got Goosebumps when I listened to his low voice. I decided that he is the guy. I asked him why he changed his mind. He replied that the ironing guy in front of my house told him that I am a film director. 90% of my team opposed to the idea of casting him, but I listened to my gut feel. I asked him if he had any experience. He said that he did dramas in his school days. I asked him to enact a scene and his acting was not impressive enough. But I liked his willingness and passion towards it. I took him in.

When Anushka suggested Nikki (personal make-up person of Anushka), she also has shown me the video of Nikki that is saved in her cell phone. It was Nikki performing for Kajarare song. I liked it and decided to meet Nikki to cast him.

Cop (Ravi Prakash)
The cop’s character is the sixth most important character in the movie. When I narrated his character to Ravi Prakash, he took two months to get muscular and toned body to get the look of cop. He did his research and studied about terrorist cells. He also gave me some implementable suggestions. He worked really hard and it shows up in the movie.

Padma (Saranya)
Saranya said that this is her best role after Nayagan movie. She is the only actress who could do the justice to the role of Padma.

Among all the characters, I feel that the most difficult and challenging ones are that of Ramulu and Karpooram. I believe that miracles do happen if you let them happen. With Vedam movie many such miracles happened.

(to be continued in part 2)

Other Post Mortems:
Magadheera by SS Rajamouli
Arundhati by M Shyam Prasad Reddy
Ashta Chemma by Mohana Krishna Indraganti
Gamyam by Krish
Happy Days by Sekhar Kammula
Godavari by Sekhar Kammula
Bommarillu by Bhaskar
Chatrapati by SS Rajamouli
Anukokunda Oka Roju by Chandra Sekhar Yeleti
Manmadhuru by Vijaya Bhaskar
Santosham by Dasarath
Jayam by Teja.

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