Q & A with Maruthi and Sai Dharam Tej
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19 December 2019

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Director Maruthi and Sai Dharam Tej are looking forward to the release of the film Prathi Roju Pandage which carries quite a good pre-release buzz courtesy a refreshing trailer that has garnered the interest of the audiences. Ahead of the film, we catch up with them for a brief but very casual conversation with the duo.

One thing we can’t help wonder is if this one is a “package film”, considering it seems to cater to audience. Also, this seems a bit different from the kind of films both of them have done in the past. Reflecting on the same, Maruthi reveals, “I believe that a film that has a message can very well be a commercial film that reaches everyone. Youngsters, masses, senior citizens and family audiences should all be able to enjoy a film.”

Explaining what he feels about his upcoming release, Maruthi says, “I feel this is the kind of film that can easily be categorized as one that has been made for older people or just for the family audiences. But I think that it needs to be watched by the younger generation most importantly because they are the ones who need to understand these values since they are the future. However, family films aren’t generally considered a worthy watch by the youth which is why packaging it to cater to them is most important, especially because I want them to enjoy it. I have always been keen that youngsters watch my films.”

Sai Dharam Tej elaborates: “No one likes being lectured. It’s vexing when it happens in class and at home. When the same thing continues in the cinema hall, it is no fun. And that’s why entertaining is necessary while telling a story, especially if it intends to do good.”

Emotional connect for Tej
For the actor, doing Prathi Roju Pandage was quite the result of an emotional personal journey. “A few years ago, I watched the Malayalam film Ustaad Hotel starring Dulquer Salmaan and absolutely loved how the story explores the concept of the relationship between a grandfather and a grandson. I was amazed by it and wished I could do a film like that,” he reveals, adding, “ My grandfather always knew the future course of career choice of all my cousins who got into acting. I was the only one who could never let him know that I would be an actor. By the time I could tell him, he passed away. That sense of regret has always been there. And I’ve often wondered how it would be to act with him.”

Apparently, that was one pushing factor in okaying the film. “When Maruthi told me the story, I said okay with the outline narration of 15 minutes! Within a week or so, he narrated it to Aravind garu and then me. I absolutely loved it and was excited to start off!” he shares.

The casting
Sathyaraj goes a step further in this film, playing a grandfather to a mainstream hero in the film. Interestingly, he apparently first refused the film! Opening up about the same, Maruthi shares, “When I was writing the grandfather character, I felt he has those characteristics that define a grandfather. Like the bald head, composure and white hair. I wasn’t sure if he would do it but I wrote the character with him in mind. When I reached Chennai to narrate the story, he straight up said no when he was told it is a grandfather’s role. His apprehension was that this will be a “double promotion” for him at a time when he is playing father characters. He told me that he is fit and goes to the gym regularly and doesn’t want to change that image. I didn’t pressurize him but told him to listen to the story anyway since I was there. After the narration, he changed his mind and immediately agreed to it and asked how many dates we needed! He loved the story and character that much. Not just him, every actor I required for the film said yes very easily including Rao Ramesh garu. There is so much goodwill and love for the story that everything perfectly fell into place.”

Third collaboration with the production house…
This is the third time the director collaborates with Geetha Arts after Bhale Bhale Magadivoyi and Kotha Janta. He has also also teamed up with UV Creations for Mahanubhavudu. Opening up about working with them again Maruthi shares: “The earlier films were character oriented wherein we took a character and weaved a story around their flaws. At that point, it felt like an interesting way to approach the story. However, Prathi Roju Pandage is very new for me just like Bhale Bhale Magadivoyi was at that time.” He adds, “Even when you see the trailer of the film, you find that it looks very fresh!”

But what is interesting is that Maruthi has seen a good success rate with these collaborations that any other. Reflecting on the same, he says, “My success rate may have been better from this compound probably because they understand both my strengths and weaknesses very well. They know where I need the support and where my flaws need corrections so as to push the rest of my strengths forward. That is the advantage of having understanding producers like them.”

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Tharun Bhascker
Naveen Polishetty (Agent Sai Srinivasa Atreya)
Harish Shankar (Gaddalakonda Ganesh)
Nani(Gang Leader)
Adivi Sesh (Evaru)

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