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Interview with Lakshmikanth Chenna
Date: October 12, 2008, Hyderabad
lakshmikanth chenna

Subjectivity is a perennial thing that inspires an individual towards creativity. The best part of one's life is smeared with thoughts of prejudice. Lakshmikanth Chenna, director of Hyderabad Nawabs, is excited to say that he has full satisfaction about his new bilingual film Ninna Nedu Repu. "For the first time, I touched on a non-love subject, despite fielding two heroines." He decries the hypocrisy in Tollywood that though the producers say they need new ideas and innovative minds, in fact, they are just statements. In reality, there is no place for new thoughts in the face of continuous onslaught of the regular massala stuff. Excerpts from an exclusive interview to

Tell us about your background?
I am from Vijayawada. Ours is a very lower middleclass family. My father worked in the Railways and expired. Due to financial problems, I just studied up to intermediate and after joining degree, I simply dropped out. Finding the going tough without qualified education, I left Vijayawada and came to Hyderabad in 1996. That time, my brother was working in the film editing division here. A relative of mine – Shankar (who worked as editor for Ramgopal Varma's films Shiva and Rangeela) was also here. I expressed my feeling to them that I wanted to work with RGV. At first they laughed at me. When I sincerely insisted them, they honestly advised me like this: See, if you want to become an assistant director, you should have thorough knowledge of the editing skills also. Better, you join in the editing department.

I didn't know what was doing that time. I wanted a foothold. As advised by them, I joined the editing department. Between 1996-2000, I worked for about 35 films. Of course, it didn't fetch me any name or fame. It was sufficient for me to run my stomach. The films that worked on included Anthapuram, Ninne Pelladutha, Chitram, Samudram, Balaramayanam etc. In 2000, I met director Teja. Till date, I consider him as my guru. That time, I asked him to take me as assistant director. He accepted it. I did some of his films both as assistant director and as editing fellow. Later, I worked in the Varma Corporation and did some films as assistant director. When I was frantically trying to become a director, I got the opportunity work as Co-director with Bhaskar for the film Bommarillu. RK (producer of Hyderabad Nawabs) happened to know about as a "talented guy". He called me once. He narrated the story to me and said: Lakshmikanth, you are going to direct this film. I found it difficult even to stand at that time.

Later, I worked on the subject for about four months. With the help of my friends, I made it perfect for grounding. It was altogether a different genre for me. It was how Hyderabad Nawabs took place.

What kind of recognition you enjoyed with Hyderabad Nawabs?
Before Hyd... Nawabs, I had no recognition at all. This film brought me an address for me in this ocean of Tollywood. Everyday, tens of new comers arrive in Hyderabad to become assistant directors. I found it cool to introduce myself as "Director of Hyderabad Nawabs." Producers who generally ask their security men to send away such people (director aspirants and story tellers) could give me an opportunity to meet them. Leave alone, whether they help me or not. In fact, this film became a platform for me to proceed with my dream project Ninna Nedu Repu.

Tell us about the making of NNR?
The idea of this subject was with me right from the time when I arrived in Hyderabad. It is like my own story. All over the state, if at all there is any place which our unemployed guys think of to have their livelihood, it is Hyderabad. The place is like mother to the have-nots. Though I conceived the project even before I took up Hyderabad Nawabs, I didn't get any producer. Do you know? I met about a dozen producers with this story. I was prompted to meet them, because of the news reports in the TVs and the media, quoting them (the producers) that they are in search of different concepts, stories and new talent. Unfortunately, these producers who preached variety and novelty started coming to the square one. They just wanted the hero-image stories, stunts, songs and the regular mass masala. Why this kind of hypocrisy? I got vexed for with such kind of people. Of course, I later understood their constraints. Hypocrisy has become the part and parcel of any profession. It has become the tool for survival.

Three people are behind this NNR. My friends Manjunath and Sudhir K. Varma helped me a lot. Without their support, there wouldn't have been this film. We three used to leave our homes before 7.00 AM, saying that "we are going to offices". The KBR Park was our office. We didn't even have the money to have breakfast or lunch. We used to purchase Rs. 1/- buns from the Cancer Hospital canteen or nearby shops. That was our breakfast and lunch. We used to discuss and discuss till the dusk. It happened for about eight months and the script was ready. Somehow, it was grounded after my Hyderabad Nawabs.

What is the specialty of this film?
This is completely the story of middleclass guys and gals who come to Hyderabad for job opportunities and with lots of dreams. They get bewildered at the social divide. Emotions and inner feelings are the crux of the film. This is not a love story at all. One might think seeing the posters with two heroines that it is a love story. I have not touched this aspect at all, though it just comes and goes unnoticed.

Tell us about the female leads?
I took Tamanna as heroine even before the release of her film Happy Days. I thought that she would be just apt for the story. Next, Rekha (Akshara) was taken in. Of course, she is a talented artiste. Both have wonderful ease and their talent really helped me a lot.

What about your hero Ravi Krishna?
He is a very good artiste. But, a hit continues to evade him after 7 GBC. I have tried my level best to project him in a character that well suited his body language. He brought absolute justice to the project. This is basically a screen-play based movie and there I didn't have anything to do with heroism.

Tell us about the screenplay?
I can say with confidence that the screenplay of NNR is very unique. So far, such a technique had never been used in Telugu film industry. I am successful in telling my point to the audiences as I had actually felt it. I am thankful to Tannikella Bharani garu for his valuable suggestions in the matters of screenplay and dialogues.

Why there is a lot of delay in the film's release?
Basically, it's a bilingual film. It's not a dubbed version. In fact, the entire film was shot in a record 43 days. There is one particular day when 13 scenes were shot. I learnt this fastness from my guru Teja garu. I had to take care of the dubbing wing myself. After finishing the Telugu version, I concentrated much on the Tamil version. I also accept that business problems also were a reason for the delay.

What kind of care you take when it comes to music?
I just have simple knowledge about music. Based on my script, I think of some style of music. I explain to the music director about the theme and our requirement. That's all. Of course, the youngsters these days are very talented guys.

Do you have any plans to do Hyderabdi lingo films again? Are these films fetching to producers?
Definitely. I love to do them. But, it requires extra energy. I am happy that Hyderabad Nawabs still remains the best event though a number of films in that genre have come. You believe it or not. The film was just made with below Rs. 1 crore budget. It fetched huge revenues to my producer. It ran for a full 150 days in Hyderabad and even in some Telangana towns. There is great potential for that. Even now, people ask me when I would be going to do a lingo film again.

What's your next project?
A couple of subjects are under discussion. I am going to do a Bollywood film soon. It will produced by a very big production house. I will tell the details soon.

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