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Interview with K Vijaya Bhaskar by Jeevi

Date: 14th March 2002 Venue: Vijay Bhaskar Residence
Other Interviews
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D Suresh Babu (Producer)
Mahesh Babu (Hero)
Lisa Ray (Heroine)
Sravanthi Ravi Kishore (Producer)
RP Patnaik (Music Director)
Smita (Telugu pop singer)
Shyam (Producer)
Karunakaran (Director)
Sri (Music Director)
Gudipoodi Srihari(Film Critic)
SJ Surya(Director)
AM Ratnam(Producer)
Tammareddy Bharadwaja(Producer n Director)
Jayant C Paranji(Director)
Kodi Rama Krishna(Director)
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Ramana Gogula(Music Director)
Naga Babu(Producer n Actor)

K Vijaya Bhaskar has become synonym of success after delivering two sensational hits like Nuvve Kavali and Nuvvu Naaku Nachav. has caught up with this sensational director at his residence on 14th of March. Here are the excerpts of the interview that lasted for an hour…


Tell us about your background and the films you made so far

Actually I am a native of Avanigadda, Krishna Dist. In my 10th year, I joined Korukonda Sainik School.

Since childhood, I was always interested in films. I did not know that a department called direction exists. But I always used to watch film and feel that few scenes in the film could have been done better. I also used to feel that few characters did not match the storyline of the films. It used to come naturally.

In 1979, I joined Indian air force and served there for 7 years. But the fascination towards cinema was pulling me. I was always feeling that I was not doing what I wanted to. After a log of emotional struggle, I came out in 1986 and joined as an apprentice for B Gopal directing Hindi remake of Telugu 'Pratidwani'. That film took around 20 months to complete. During that period, I had the chance to learn how a film is made.

Only by working as an assistant director can one learn how a film is made. But nobody can teach you or influence you about what film you should make. After that I have directed a film titled 'Prardhana' in 1991, which did not do well at box office. But that film got good reviews from critics.

After the failure of prarthana, i sat down and introspected as to what went wrong with it. From that day onwards, I sincerely learnt everything by watching films. It's like a college. Go to college. Read books. Gain knowledge. Write exams and pass with flying colors. Likewise, I used to watch how shot is being taken in films. How different directors in different styles handle the same shot. I used to observe the different styles of making films in Telugu, Hindi and English.

I was waiting for the right time to direct the film. I waited for seven and half years. Opportunities came my way, but i was not 100% confident about those filmmakers and the scripts they came up with. Also, I did not want to take any chances. I was willing to wait for more time to consolidate my strengths in filmmaking. It did not bother me too.

The most important thing about any director, be it Telugu, Hindi or Hollywood, is to tell the story interestingly. That interesting story narration forms the crux of good film. All other ingredients like good camerawork, good music and good dialogues are add-ons. A simple story can be told in hundreds of different styles.

When i first listened to the story of Swayamvaram from writer Trivikram Srinivas, in 1988, i sensed a novelty in that subject. Telling that point to the audience in a convincingly interesting style is pretty difficult. The hero in the film is the villain. And he is not a kind of stereotyped hero who does good things and impresses everybody. We have to convince people that hero can have weaknesses and a hero need not be perfect. It's just like a character that you see in your neighborhood. He is a normal guy with no exceptional (or heroic) qualities. It was a real challenge.

After Swayamvaram, people started noticing me. For six months, I did not do any film. After six months, the 'Nuvve Kavali' project came up. We worked so hard to take the entire auditorium back to that adolescence. The film is about a boy and girl of 18 years old age. It deals with the beautiful relationship they share. We did not stick to any kind of formula. I do admit that we never expected this film to become such a huge blockbuster. Whenever we make a film, we never bother about the result. We sincerely try to tell a story in an interesting style.

Then Nuvvu Naaku Nachav happened. That film did not have a story at all. And it featured a big hero Venkatesh. People cautioned me that I have worked with debutant heroes like Tarun and Venu. But Venky carries lot of weight around him. We did not have story in the beginning. We wanted to write a story with an idea that was never attempted by venkatesh before. We decided to complement the story by infusing newness into the screenplay. Since Venky is not an young boy, we did not go to college student kind of role. We wanted to give realistic feeling to Venkatesh character. In the temple scene in NNN, Venkatesh says to Arti that 'appude arekaram poyindi' (I am getting bald because I am ageing without marriage). Venkatesh is such a gentleman, he agreed to everything though some of the features are very bold. The Venkateswarlu character in the film never pretends to impress anybody. He played himself. That is the beauty of his character.

Even in the next film, I believe in telling the story interestingly. While narrating the story, you should never give the audience time to relax. If you want them to laugh, they should laugh. If you want them to cry, they should cry. Unless, you feel it and do it, you cant really dictate terms to audience. .

How do you conceive a film?

The basic thing is story. The storyline should inspire me. I won't take up the project unless I am 100% satisfied with the story. For Venkatesh, it was different. We did not have story. First we had consent from Venkatesh and then we have woven the story around him. Either way it's fine. You can make a good story and then approach the suitable star. Or you can chose the performer first and make a story around him. Even for Nagarjuna, we have agreed upon making a film 6 months back. Now we have woven story around Nagarjuna romantic image. Trivikram came up with an interesting storyline.

Do you ever work on a film without Trivikram as dialogue writer?

The selection of dialogue writer depends on the kind of film you are making. You can either make an action film or romantic film. You can make either silent film or a 'talk' film. Most of my films are 'talk' films. You may also find some places where silence is deliberately kept for importance scenes, especially, the one scene in NNN in which Chandra Mohan meets Venkatesh in the climax. If I make action films, the concentration would be more on thrills. I personally feel that we should make different kind of films to stay here longer. We can't keep on making same kind of films for years.

The principle I follow is that 'you take care of your film and your film will take care of you'. Keep working. Don't worry about results.

You studied in a Sainik school and worked in Air Force. Did that discipline help you in films?

Very much! Sainik School is my alma mater. It's a boon to study in Sainik School. It taught me how to live. The Air Force experience was very helpful. They groomed me a lot. The entire credit should go to Sainik School and Air Force.

A few scenes in your films are taken from Hollywood films.

I do admit that I watch a lot of Hollywood films and worship a lot of Hollywood directors. But we don't emulate the exact scene. We work upon them and try to incorporate the scenes convincingly according to the nativity. As long as you don't copy the scenes deliberately and take the credit, there is nothing wrong it getting inspired. It's 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

You made your latest film with Venky and the next project will have Nag as hero. Don't you make films with small heroes?

So far, I have made films with only one hero. That hero is my script.

How is it like directing a Hindi film (remake of Nuvve Kavali)?

Once I started, I realized that directing a Hindi film is as easy as directing a Telugu film. The artists and technicians are quite disciplined and very much committed. I don't know why these magazines write a lot about unprofessionalism in Hindi field. They are very cooperative and professional. Remaking the film means not just translating the dialogues and making a film. I am trying to make a very authentic Hindi film. People should not feel that a southerner had come and made a south film in to Hindi. We are making a very believable and realistic Hindi film. Lets see how it comes out. I am really happy with the way it's shaping up.

Did you air force experienced helped to gain a grip on Hindi lingo?

Absolutely. Whatever little knowledge of Hindi I gained from my job helped me in making this film. In fact, all the actors and technicians helped me a lot.

When is the Hindi version releasing?

The film should be completed by the end of April. The film would be released in either May or June.

Did you change you screen name for Hindi or you retained your original name?

I don't have such sort of sentiments. Hindi audience will know me as Vijaya Bhaskar as well.

After watching the sensible and sensitive portrayal of human relationships and romance in you films, I feel that you have the touch of Yash Chopra. Does he inspire you?

Yash Chopra is a great director. But, sincerely, I don't try to emulate anybody. I take good things from the great directors like Viswanath, Mani Ratnam, Yash Chopra, Steven Spielberg and James Cameron. All these directors have their own style of narrating a story. All of them have very strong areas. In those areas they are simply mindblowing and they might be weak in some other sears. I learn from the strengths of these directors. I don't emulate anybody. For romantic scenes and relationships, Yash Chopra is the best. When you see a good film, you will become prisoner of that film. Then you are bound to get inspired. I want to have my kind of story telling without emulating anybody. For some scenes in my films, I tend to relate them with the films of good directors and ponder over the way they have dealt those scenes.

I heard you are turning producer. Is it true?

No. I can never be a businessman in my life. I follow my heart. I was poor in mathematics. I don't even know the basic details of film business. My producers used to say the numbers like number of theaters, A centers, B centers etc. But I don't understand anything. I am a layman in all these matters. My artists used to approach me with their dates problem. I tell them to approach me if they have any doubts about the scene, dialogue or expression in the film.

Every script carries a mood. You have to transfer that mood onto the screen then in to the audience. I only worry about that.

Do you go to theaters and watch films regularly?

Yes. Definitely! I sneak into theaters just like that and enjoy watching all kinds of films even today. That gives me a real thrill. At no point of time, you should lose the audience in you. I put my technician cap behind and watch the film in public theater as an audience. I am abosultely against wacthing a movie on TV/Video in a closed room. Even now I love buying tickets in black, watch the film and come out as a satisfied man. Acha Lagta Hain! It gives me good feeling and I don't want to lose it all throughout my life.

How many days does it take you to make a film?

It depends. We finished Swayamvaram and Nuvve Kavali in less than 50 days. Nuvvu Naaku Nachav took 75 to 80 days. The hindi film too is taking from 75 days to 80 days. It all depends on cast, availability of combinations.

In all the last three films, you introduced new heroines. Do you have any reason for that?

I wanted fresh heroines for my films because I don't want people to related the characters in my films with the character done by established heroines in their past films. I took Arti for Nuvvu Naaku Nachav, as the heroine should not have any image and it helped a lot.

I took Richa Sharma for Nuvve Kavali, because I wanted a young college going 18-year-old girl. I asked Richa to be herself in the film. I did not want her to do any action. She just had to behave and it worked. I asked her to give the right expression. For Swayamvaram, the producer approached me with the cast and script. They selected Laya.

Who will be the heroines in Manmadhudu?

For Manmadhudu, we are trying to bring a couple of new girls. Actually, the film would have 4-5 girls out of which two girls share the major the screen presence. There would be lot of fun in the film.

And let me clarify you that 'Manmadhudu' is a clean film. I made all the clean films so far and this will also be a completely clean film. Making the film with a title like 'Manmadhudu' is a difficult proposition. If the hero character were good and clean people would love it. Even if we have slightest negative shade to the character, the film would boomerang.

I am titling the film 'Manmadhudu' because of Nagarjuna's looks. But the hero in the film does not try to woo any girl. He is a like a cupid. He starts the fire and leaves it. Only fun part of Manmadhudu would be there in the film. The film has good storyline and good sentiment. I don't want to tell the story of the film in this interview. I let the audience know it on the screen.

Do you offer any suggestions for the visitors who aspire to become directors?

I do admit that however intelligent a person is, one has to learn the process of filmmaking with some director. One can easily make a film without learning from anybody. But, there are so many advantages if you learn the filmmaking process. Even now, when I am directing a film, my experience of being a assistant director helps me a lot. If u have a scene to shoot at airport, but do not have the budget for it, you can't shoot it at a bus stand. That's where the experience of assistant direction helps. If you have experiences, you can control the location and budget while scripting the film. There are so many practical problems one encounter while making films. For example, in the script you might have written that a character enters the main hall from out side and then moves into bedroom. But when you go the shooting spot to shoot the film, you might find that bedroom is just beside the entrance of the house. You need to have some experience to do those makeshift arrangements in the script without getting confused.

But the basic thing is that if anybody wants to direct a film he or she should love the film. He should have a vision and should be able to see the entire film before he makes it. One way, it's a very easy job. In other way, directing a film is the toughest job. It depends on how you look at it. If two people look through the same window, one sees the moon and the other sees the mud. There are so many merits and demerits of being a director.

You can only make the film with your heart. You can't make the film with your mind. You can do the business with your mind. But to make a good film, you must follow your heart.

Interviewed by Jeevi
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