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Chitchat with Sumanth on Godavari
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May 21, 2006

Sumanth got tremendous appreciation for his work in the latest release Godavari. caught up with Sumanth at Prasad Labs Preview Theater where a special preview of Godavari for ANR and his family was going on in the afternoon of 20th May. Sumanth spoke to idlebrain at length to share his feelings about the success of Godavari -

How did Godavari happen to you?

Godavari links
Overseas schedules

One fine day, GVG Raju and Sekhar Kammula called me up and said that they have some proposal. Sekhar handed me the bound script. I went through it immediately and I just loved it. I gave a go ahead.

How hard or how easy is it to work for Godavari?
To be honest, I did not work hard for Godavari. Only hard work I did for Godavari was to wake up at 3 am in the morning and staying away from my family. I don’t think I really acted in the film. It was all behaving and reacting.

I don’t do any homework to play any character. It does not work for me. If we do homework, there is a tendency to have preconceived notions on the set which will make improvisation very difficult. Sekhar has done so much for the script, characterization and dialogues (both in English and Telugu). I was so amazed with the work of Sekhar I thought that I should go to set and follow his instructions. I wanted to be the director’s actor.

What kind of difficulties you had while working for Godavari?
Godavari is easily the most difficult shoot I had experienced so far. Sekhar used to say that we need to work at the mercy of Godavari talli. Nothing was in controlled atmosphere. That is the reason why the number of shooting days shot up. There were times when we spent the entire night on the launch. We slept on the sand. Every morning we used to wake up at 3 am. Sekhar wants majority of his work done in either sunrises or sunsets. We had to travel on the launch for 2 hours to reach the shooting location. It was an exhaustive shoot in that way.

How did you manage to shoot on the launches?
Hats of to Anish Kuruvilla! He really took care of all our needs and difficulties in production. We had our own make-up cabins. We had homes on launch. There were times when we tied up launches in parallel. The boats we used are of 50 year old. One of the boats is named after Sir Arthur Cotton.

Nagarjuna’s film Sri Ramadasu was also shot in Rajahmundry? Did your working days overlap?
I joined Godavari shoot after 20 days. At that time Sriramadasu shooting was also going on. Our schedules overlapped for over 10 days.

How do you compare Godavari with your earlier films?
We can’t even compare. It is very different film for not only me but for also the Telugu film industry. Hopefully, this film will become a path-breaking film.

Did you believe that Godavari would become such a good film when you started working for it?
We knew that even if we get about 60% of the bound script, movie will be a hit. After making a successful movie like Anand, he worked for many months to prepare the script of Godavari. We just believed in the director and followed him.

How much percentage of the bound script Sekhar Kammula could translate on to the screen?
Once you are involved it a filmmaking, your judgment goes for a toss. That question should be answered by the audience. I think it is being answered by the audience.

What are your favorite scenes in Godavari film?
Sekhar broke all the conventions and rules of filmmaking with Godavari. Here are my favorite scenes –

  • The scene in which I jump off the boat. The leading scene and the scenes that followed. It is a brilliant scene from the writing level.
  • When Kamalinee sings ‘Ramachakkani’ song, I go to touch her feet to show my appreciation that she sang very well and then I do a gesture with my hand. I think this scene is very poetic.

What kind appreciation you got from the industry and from your family members?
We lived up to the expectations people had on Godavari. The film industry is giving positive feedback about this film. Industry people are very happy that a movie like this is doing really well. Probably Nagarjuna went through the same emotions when his Geetanjali film was released.

Both my father and sister are great critics of my work. My sister never likes anything I do. If I do 99 good things and 1 bad thing, she will talk about that one bad thing. My dad thinks this is the best performance I had given so far. My sister also liked the film. It is a very tough job to please my family and I did it with Godavari.

The big man (ANR) is watching the preview now. Uncle Nagarjuna will watch Godavari in a couple of days.

Sri Ramadasu and Godavari are pure Telugu films promoting Telugu culture and its values. Both these films are delivered by Akkinenis. How do you feel about it?
We are brought up by ANR garu and we are grounded in that matter. We made sure that we call our parents as amma and nanna. We are very rooted to the language and culture. We speak in Telugu at home. It is nice to see that we made two native films. The credit of Godavari should go to Sekhar. Both of us are very similar in that aspect. We did our graduation in India and went to USA to do engineering. Then we shifted to film school and came back. Sekhar Kammula is extremely grounded in Telugu.

How Godavari is going to affect your future projects?
Whatever you are doing next, you should prepare the audience. I prepared all Akkineni fans that Godavari is going to be a movie that should be watched along with the family members and the loved ones. The response from the fans about Godavari is also very good. My next film will be a regular commercial film. It takes me a while to get into the skin of my next character.

Tell us about your next film in the direction of Kanmani (Naa Oopiri fame)?
I will be having a rugged and a raw look for that character. This film is about how an orphan kid is adapted by a foster family. He is then separated from the family and the remaining story is about how he gets back to his family. It is a very strong story. Simultaneously there is another strong love thread running. It is an extremely emotional story. When Kanmani narrated the script, I had tears in my eyes at the end of it. I signed the film on that instinct.

Read exclusive interview of Sumanth before the release of Satyam film

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