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Interview with Sekhar Kammula
Date: October 4, 2008, Hyderabad
sekhar kammula

There is nothing special in anybody speaking about God and Nature, when he is in trouble. But, when it from none other than Sekhar Kammula, it holds the salt, not just like that, but by hardcore practical experience in the labyrinthine film business. This young filmmaker is the proud owner of the unique sense of judgment about the commercial fortunes of films thanks to the Anand experience, followed by pinching moments with Happy Days. Setting aside the mere fiscal policy, he came forward with professional zeal over his overseas business with Ashta Chemma. He has spelt a new meaning to industry ethics, "by not going to exploit the success of Happy Days" for his latest film Avakai Biryani. In an exclusive interview to, Sekhar Kammula makes candid expression of his feelings from Anand to Avakai Biryani. Excerpts:

You sold Happy Days film outright to Dil Raju for a profit of couple crores. And Dil Raju made huge profit by several crores. Did you feel the pinch as you did not get a single pie from the huge profits Happy Days made?
It hurts because I am a human being. I knew right from the day one of the shoot that Happy Days is going to be a blockbuster. But at the same time I did not want to be too greedy. That is the reason why I sold it outright prior to the release. I made Happy Days with high production values on a low budget.

I feel that it is God's scheme and he decides when to give us the money. When I was desperate to sell Nizam rights of Anand film for 20 lakhs, I could not find a buyer. I released the film on my own and it collected 1.75 crores in Nizam area. Hence I learnt to leave it to God and Nature. Monitory aspects do not affect me or my work now.

What is the reason behind you buying overseas rights of Ashta Chemma?
I was invited to the premiere of Ashta Chemma by Ram Mohan through a mutual friend of me called Anil. He wanted me to have a look at it and suggest the right price for overseas. I experienced similar situation when I made Anand. I used to invite lots of prospective buyers and show them to take their feedback. I felt that Ashta Chemma might work. I talked to my friend Manohar (Touring Talkies) about it. I thought that I could distribute it as I personally liked the film and it needs some positioning. I paid 50% more than what the USA distributors were offering at that time. It was an impulsive decision. That decision was not taken just for money. I bought it because I felt good being associated with that project. It reminded me of my Anand time. I told Manohar in advance that he can expect a rating of 3.25 from Jeevi and my prediction turned out to be true..

What is Avakai Biryani all about?
It is a love story between a six-seater auto driver (Kamal Kamaraju) and pickle selling girl (Bindu Madhavi).

Where does the Biryani come into play?
I can't reveal the Biryani aspect now.

What is the backdrop of the film?
It is a musical love story set against Malgudi kind of ambiance. It is a village love story. Most of the Telugu films have Konaseema as village backdrop. We tried Nizam area this time by shooting in and around Vikarabad. We have shown the coziness through village mates lives.

What is your involvement in Avakai Biryani?
Anish has been my friend and right hand for a long time. He narrated me the story of Avakai Biryani after the release of Happy Days. I liked the nobility in the story. I asked him to expand the story and write it. The entire film is Anish's. I am just a producer. I went to the shooting spot for 2-3 times only. He created his own team and executed the film.

How are you going to sell Avakai Biryani? Is it being sold by keeping the success of Happy Days in mind?
No. I am not going to exploit the success of Happy Days while selling Avakai Biryani. There is no obligation to any of my buyers. I am not a proposal maker.

Tell us about the Telugu girl Bindu Madhavi who is making her debut as heroine?
Anish is not very fluent with Telugu. He wanted a Telugu speaking girl for the film as the character is a native one. We saw Bindu Madhavi in a saree ad. We went to Chennai and signed her. She is basically from Guntur.

Are you releasing Avakai Biryani in USA on your own?
Yes. It will be released through Touring Talkies.

Tell us about the music?
Manikanth Kadri is son of Padmasri Kadri Gopalnath. He is one of the greatest players of saxophone in India. I am very much impressed with the music of Avakai Biryani. I am proud of the music.

When is the Avakai Biryani going to release?
I am planning for the first week of November release.

What is the progress of Happy Days Hindi version?
We are currently running a star search in Mumbai. I am planning to start shooting the film in a month. My home banner Amigos is going to produce it. Once we finalize everything, I will rope in a corporate house of Mumbai as a co-producer.

You said in the last interview that you wanted to upgrade your car to Honda Civic?
Yes. I bought a Honda Civic just a month back.

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