us about how Dollar Dreams happened?
did my graduation in Mechanical Engineering at Osmania University,
Hyderabad. Then I went to USA to do my MS in Computer Science
at University of New Jersey. I am a hardcore movie buff
watching all Chiranjeevi movies on the first show of the
first day. But what made feel that I am capable of making
films is that I could able to see things differently compared
to others. I think I have a philosophical angle to my nature
and the way I observe the things.
spent so much time watching things and I am capable of seeing
and analyzing things differently. Hence, I decided that
I should enter the field of moviemaking at one point of
time. I wanted to join a film institute in USA. But I did
not have money. I decided that I would earn money and then
join a film institute to hone my skills.
do love the country USA absolutely. There is lot of scope
to broaden yourself. I am not speaking about the power of
dollar. One can make money anywhere and anytime. They have
tremendous attitude. Whatever they like to do they would
do it. They have completely different mindset. I always
wanted to return to India because I am attached to parents
and I love Hyderabad. So I set my priorities right. Do job.
Earn money. Go to film school. And return to India.
had a very simple life in USA so that I could save money.
When I started saving money, I applied for a film school
at Howard University. I wrote in the statement of purpose
while applying for film school that I tend to think about
the things which people tend to ignore when they try accomplishing
the materialistic needs. And I love small things in life
and enjoy watching the tender feelings exhibited by kids
and thoroughly love the things showered by nature upon us.
That's what seems to have impressed the Chairman of the
film school. He called upon me immediately and offered me
admission into institute. I wanted some financial assistance.
But they made it clear that its not possible in any film
training school. I was one of the best students in the class.
When we made small films, there was no ego or hierarchy.
We used to work collectively. I used to be the light man
sometimes, cinematographer or editor while learning the
direction of the film.
did thesis in my final semester and I did my thesis on screenplay.
I have chosen the subject of Anand as the basic story of
my thesis screenplay.
I got my MFA (Master in Fine Arts) degree. Its not a 6months
course. It's a 3 years (60 credit course) master degree.
I had two degrees in USA. One is MS in Computer Science
and other one is MFA. After 5 years of stay in USA, I returned
was in 1999. There was a tremendous boom in software field.
As everybody was going to USA to earn dollars, I returned
to India to do a job in Citicorp. I slowly started meeting
people related to film industry.
was so much of exodus from Hyderabad to USA in 1999. My
sister is a gynecologist. She told me a strange incident
that happened in her hospital. A lady was requesting my
sister to do a 4th month abortion to her because she would
be going to USA a year later and she want her kid to be
citizen of USA by giving birth to him/her in USA. I felt
that it was heights of insanity. That incident really inspired
me. And that's what they taught me in school. Chose the
subject of your film from an inspiring incident. I did not
think about budget. I did not think about marketing my film.
I did not think about the total outcome.
that point of time 'Hyderabad Blues' was released. That
genre inspired me. I pooled up money from my savings and
borrowing from my friends. We started a banner called 'Amigos
Creations' (Amigos means friends in Spanish). We cast people
who are new to film industry for the freshness. The characters
in 'Dollar Dreams' speak in 3 languages (Hindi, English
and Telugu). I registered the film as English film. At that
time I was not aware that I would have got subsidy for the
film if it were registered as Telugu language. By the time
I completed 1st copy I spent around Rs. 16 lakhs. When I
started marketing the film, the distributors were putting
questions like 'who is the hero? Who is music director?
Which language film is this? I was totally zapped, because
I did not have any satisfactory answers for the questions
posed by distributors. Still, I has tremendous confidence
and guts to continue my mission.
I approached the management of Sangeet theater in Secunderabad
and told him that my film is a film that people would love
to watch in Sangeet theater. I asked him to have a preview
show and buy it if he likes the film. But he is pucca commercial
man. He said that he would rent theater at flat rate of
Rs. 10,000/- per show and he was not interested in buying
the film. I had to finally agree for it and I booked Sangeet
theater for one show a day for 28 days. We used to go to
all corporate houses and fore sell the tickets of the film.
It ran for 4 weeks nonstop. Then 20th Century Fox people
saw the film and agreed to release it nationwide. He asked
me to dub the Telugu dialogues in English. Then we started
spending money on other things. We got lots of visibility
at national level. But the icing on the cake was National
Award (Swarna Kamal) for the best debutant director. Since
then things started rolling for me. I sold the satellite
rights of the film. I have lots of rights unsold for Dollar
Dreams. I am confident that one day I would be breaking
even on that project. I lost around 4-5 lakhs on Dollar
Dreams. But I am very much satisfied for all the things
that happened because of Dollar Dreams.
Dollar Dreams, I started meeting producers to tell stories.
All of them wanted a storyline. When I told them storyline,
they used to feel that its too simple. Then I used to give
them bounded script of Anand. They used to read a few scenes
and tell that its OK. But nobody came forward. Actually
a script cannot be read in pieces. Just like you watch a
film continuously in a theater for 2 and half hours, one
had to read the script continuously from 1st page to last
page at a stretch to understand the content and the underlying
did you get the funding from NFDC for Anand?
met somebody at one of the film festivals and he suggested
the name of NFDC (National Film Development Counsel). I
applied for NFDC. Earlier they used to give 100% funding.
But most of the makers used to take 50-60 lakhs as funding
and spend only 10 lakhs to produce inflated bills. Hence,
they wanted to see some accountability from director as
well. Hence they came forward to fund 50% of the project.
I also liked that idea and I believe 'Anand' would start
a new trend in Telugu film industry in terms of funding.
about the casting in Anand?
felt that artist Raja has sharp looks and good smile. He
is also a method actor. He does not have any melodrama in
his acting. When I personally met him, I came to know that
he had formal training in Florida as an actor. I am also
impressed by the passion he has for cinema. He trusts my
abilities as a director. Its nice to work with an actor
who trusts you than the actor who is more interested in
number of songs and locations of the songs.
cast all non-established actors as character artists in
Anand. We have been in this process for the past 3 months.
Casting the heroines is a big problem. We went to Mumbai
and Bangalore and could not get the appropriate one. Then
I came to know about a Bengali girl Kamalinee. Did a screen-test
to her and she is perfect.
did you chose to construct the set at a private land in
Padmarao Nagar, unlike traditional outdoor studios like
RFC and Nanakram Guda?
visited RFC and Nanakram Guda and could not find the right
place. I need a big house and an outhouse situated adjacently.
I stay in Padmarao Nagar. Hence, I have more proximity by
having the set here. Kamalinee is also put up in a house
at Padmarao Nagar now. Raja would shifting his residence
to Padmarao Nagar for the shoot of this film soon. We all
are working on simple things with commitment for an effective
result. I am not a typical filmy person. I am not used to
studios in Jubilee Hills and Banjara Hills. I want to get
the things done in a simple way. 40% of the film's shooting
would be done in this set. We have a very homely atmosphere
in that set. I want to get out tender feelings from actors
and transfer it on to the screen.
did you name your film as Anand?
word Anand means joy. If I were to put a caption to this
film I would have kept 'the way of life'. Because every
film that is churned out today are having captions, I did
not have any caption for Anand.
a different director, how did you fall prey to 6-song tradition
I wanted to keep a couple of montage songs in the film to
advance the story. When I sat with Veturi I realized that
I could see 1000's of expressions expressed as 2 words in
lyrics. Hence we fixed upon having six songs in 'Anand'.
All songs are written by Veturi. Veturi is known for efficiency
in writing spontaneous lyrics. But he took 30 days to write
lyrics for Anand.
us about the music?
went back to old songs. Its not that we copied any old songs.
But we implanted the flavor we find in golden oldies in
this film. They also elevate lyrical value. I am writing
dialogues myself because I want the dialogues to be natural.
is your favorite actor, actress and director?
I am great fan of Chiranjeevi since my childhood. Bapu is
my favorite film director. I like Tabu a lot. She has great
histrionic abilities and sensuality. When I searched for
a heroine for Anand, I told the people that I was looking
for a junior Tabu.
you get any appreciation from regular Telugu filmmakers?
we held that Anand's pressmeet, director Krishnavamsi called
me and wished all the best and told a few good words. It
was a wonderful moment for me.
you feeling tensed because you are making movie by putting
your hard-earned money?
I am feeling secured, because I have my job of software
profession in tact. I took vacation from my company and
working over this project.
Anand becomes a hit, would you continue as a full fledged
prefer staying the way I am now. I don't want to churn out
continuous films just because my film has become hit. I
would prefect to encourage people who worked in my direction
departments. I would produce films by making them directors.
did you come to know about idlebrain?
guess every Telugu software engineer knows about idlebrain.
All of us surf idlebrain in every first hour of our day
in office. I find the name idlebrain very catchy. Idlebrain
is very up-to-date and current. But I don't know how you
make money. I heard that big software firms in India like
Wipro, Satyam and CTS firewalled idlebrain.com, which is
a pretty good compliment.