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Interview with Raj Pippalla
Date: June 11, 2009, Hyderabad
raj pippalla

Raj Pippalla belongs to the new generation NRIs who left their plush jobs in pursuing their passion for movies. After doing a few music videos and directing international ads for reputed brands, Raj Pippalla is making his debut as director with Boni starring Sumanth. Boni is releasing on 12 June. Here is’s exclusive interview with this exciting personality -

I am born in Bhuvaneswar and did my bachelors in computers at Minnesota, USA. I did my masters in VLSI. Then I took up my job in LSI Logic in Minnesota. I was always interested in music since childhood. I got interested in movies while I was doing my job. I used to rentout video camera and catch hold of friends to make my own short films. I also used to shoot music videos and prepare video advertisements on my own. It led to biggest jobs like ad filmmaking. I started making ad films professionally and I did adverisements for Levis, Adidas, Liril (India) etc.

I went to LA to do ads and I got in touch with Nagarjuna over there. He invited me to be the part of the Canada shoot of his film Aakasa Veedhilo. I was the line producer for Canada part of the film. After that I was in touch with Nagarjuna. I started writing stories and scripts. I prepared an Indian based international script like ‘Bend it like Beckham’. Then I realized that I have to make masala Telugu movies. I decided to resign my job and came to Hyderabad. I met Sumanth and narrated him a few scripts and he liked Boni script. Ramana Gogula came forward to produce the movie.

What is Boni all about?
Boni is about romanticizing the loss. It also tells that the world comes to you if you work selflessly. But, all these messages will be subtle. Goldwyn of MGM once said, “If you want to send a message, call Western Union”. Boni is basically a fun story of a low level goonda in a basti. I experimented with comedy in this movie. And I realized that comedy is the toughest thing to do compare to other emotions. I went away from regular way of shooting the comedy scenes. The orchestration of shots will be different in comedy scenes of Boni.

What is the toughest part to do for an educated and USA-returned guy like you in directing movies?
I feel that filmmaking is nothing but reverse engineering the emotion. No matter how ambitious you are, you have to understand what you are given. 80% of the time and efforts goes into understanding it and only 20% goes into creative aspect. There will be so many unanticipated problems and you have to learn how to come up with a solution without compromising on the creative aspect of filmmaking.

Working days and budget?
We planned for a shoot of 75 days and it had gone to 100 days. We are hit by rains. We overshot the budget. We used around 1 lac foot of spool.

How different Boni is going to be?
There is an attitude to Boni. The story telling technique is different. I played with visuals while portraying comedy and emotions in this movie.
It is a fun film. Watching this film is like spending time with a good hearted humorous friend. Boni will be like a modern-day Chandamama katha.

Did you follow any books for film scripting and screenplay?
Robert McKee’s STORY is the best recommended book on characterization and scene structuring. I do read screenplays of Hollywood films on internet. And when I watch DVD’s I make sure that I put the subtitles on and put the sound off. You will understand the scenic break-up better that way.

Who are your favorite directors?
Puri Jagan, VV Vinayak and Rajamouli are my favorite directors in Telugu. I like the efficiency of Puri Jagan and VV Vinayak in taming the budget while making big starrers. I like James Cameron’s way of concentrating and focusing on the delicate story line though around million dollars a day was spent while making Titanic movie. I like Steven Spielberg’s classic way of orchestrating the scenes. I admire Krzysztof Kieślowski’s poetic conception of movies like Red, White and Blue Trilogy. I also like Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) and Luc Besson (Taxi, The Transporter, The Fifth Element etc).

What are your future plans?
I want to do international Telugu film that caters to both Telugu people and International movie lovers (not NRIs). There is a huge market waiting to open.

Do you have any suggestions for guys with similar background who want to direct movies?
Trust yourself. Understand the laws of jungle. Have a second hand experience to see how a journey can be made from the idea to final product.

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