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Interview with Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK by Bala Subramanyam (for

FLAVORS has had the privilege of being selected into over a dozen prestigious international film festivals like Cairo, Hamptons, Milan, Hawaii, Bangkok, San Francisco Asian American, Mumbai etc - a rare honor for a comedy film. The movie has been creating great buzz in the independent movie world and mainstream critics have called it a "a truly unique comedy" and "upbeat".

Filmmakers Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK talk about their film and filmmaking in general. FLAVORS is scheduled to release in US on July 16, and in India this summer.

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FLAVORS. Doesn't sound like a Telugu Movie. Can you tell us how this could interest Telugu people?

DK: True, FLAVORS is in English, but language barriers are vanishing fast. Today, a movie that does well in any language is either dubbed or remade into other languages.

FLAVORS is a comedy that looks at the lives and relationships of Indians living in the US. It is fresh, new and entertaining. This is a universal theme and should interest all Indians irrespective of language or sub-culture.

Raj: From what we have seen at several of these international film festivals, different people of different culuters and races have enjoyed the movie thoroughly. A comedy with universal sensibilities can appeal to anyone.

Also on a specific note, Telugu people are an integral part of the Global Indian these days. Wherever there are Indians in any field and any land, there is a Telugu and he is at the frontlines. So we thought it was very appropriate to have some Telugudanam in our movie. So we decided to create one of the multiple stories in FLAVORS to be Telugu.

Can you tell us about yourselves?

DK: I grew up in Chittoor, did my Engineering in Computer Science at SV University, Tirupati. As was the trend those days (it is even now), I came to the US on my software job.

Raj: I was born in Tirupati and did my Mechanical Engineering in SV University, Tirupati, too. That is where DK and I met and became friends. We used to take part in a lot of competitions and cultural fests and used to travel to other colleges all over the state. After my degree, I came to the US for my MS, then took up a job as a Computer Engineer.

Why did you get into moviemaking (direction)?

Raj: I think it was the monotony of our lives here that made us realize that we should do something creative and create something where we can channel all our energies and abilities. We felt kind of stunted in our jobs and the direction we were heading towards, in our lives.

DK: Also, the quality of Indian movies being made left a lot to be desired. There are good movies, yes, but going by the size of the industry, we thought there should be more people making sensible movies. I'm sure everyone has walked out of a bad movie and thought, "I can make a better movie than that!" We did too. And we took that thought seriously.

How did you learn filmmaking? Did you go to film school?

Raj: Once we decided to make movies, we didn't rush into it head first. We thought the best way to learn anything is to start doing it. So we made some short films, and as we made each one of them, we learnt more. We spent five years doing shorts or discussing filmmaking and then we did our hour-long feature, After it received really good feedback from the press and from audience and it was invited to some prestigious film festivals like Commonwealth film festival in UK, we were really encouraged to make our first feature film, FLAVORS.

DK: We did take a few classes for the technical aspects of filmmaking - specifically lighting, editing etc. But mostly we learnt filmmaking by watching films from around the world. So I can say films are our school.

How will you differentiate your movie with other movies made by NRIs in USA?

Raj: A lot people feel that independent movies have stories that we are all very familiar with and these movies somehow feel amatuerish. Our objective was very clear, we wanted to make a movie with a story and structure that is fresh, appealing, funny and smart. We also wanted to make it as professional as we can afford: we even got Frank Reyonds who was the editor for Oscar-nominated film, In The Bedroom and people like Lelsie Lewis of Colonial Cousins.

And above all we totally wanted to avoid any clichéd concepts like 'cultural differences' and 'ABCDs & FOBs' and stay away from stereotypes.

DK: We believe that how you tell a story is as important as what story you tell. In other words, we place emphasis on presentation. The film has an innovative screenplay, a quirky structure and a New Age feel to it. Many critics have called it cool and stylish.

After the film, a lot of viewers (at film festivals) walked away loving the characters and with a feeling of warmth for the movie, in addition to having fun. And they were not all Indians. Above all, we wanted to put a lot of what makes movies so entertaining - humor!

What kind of recognition you got so far for your work?

DK: FLAVORS has got good reviews in the various film festivals it has gone to. Getting accepted at some of these festivals is in itself an achievement, especially since this is a light-hearted comedy. Film festivals usually prefer the dark, controversial kind of movies.

Raj: Among the film festivals that FLAVORS has gone to are Hamptons, Hawaii, Durban, Cairo, Bangkok and Mumbai. The detailed list of festivals, awards and reviews is available on our website. We also felt elated when DK & I were nominated as Best Emerging Directors at Asian American International in New York. Screen Actors Guild honored one of our stars, Pooja Kumar and we won a couple of other honors.

Tell us about your hard work that brought you to where you are today?

DK: Filmmaking requires a lot of dedication and hard work. Any filmmaker will tell you that. A film like FLAVORS - by newcomers in the industry - takes a couple of years to make, counting the 6 months or so it takes to write the script. During those two years we pretty much gave up our personal and social lives, traveled like crazy, gave up our paying jobs (as software consultants), depleted all our savings in the bank and used up favors from all our friends and relatives!

Raj: The only thing that keeps you going for such a long period is passion for the art and faith in the movie. So you better be sure the movie is worth making. Now that we have successfully completed the film, the next challenge is to market it well and make sure audiences around the world get to see and appreciate it. It is also time to call up our friends and families and thank them for the favors and apologize for all the unanswered calls!

What are your future plans?

Raj: We are working on scripts for our next movie. We're planning to make a movie in India for mainstream audiences. A new kind of Bollywood movie.

DK: We also want to make a bigger Indian film for worldwide audiences. There have been Indian movies that have made waves in the international arena, but it is mostly due to their cultural or exotic appeal. Not for their innovative concepts or technical excellence, which is the case with, say, European or Chinese cinema.

If you have to tell about this movie in 3 words, what would those be?

Raj: Funny. Intelligent. Stylish.

DK: Watch. The. Movie!

Why should people watch this movie? I mean, without a popular actor or a director, what should attract people in going to the movie theatres?

Raj: This movie has fresh faces and a fresh perspective. It is funny and entertaining and intelligent at the same time. Anyone who wants to watch more than the regular run-of-the-mill fare should find this movie very interesting. Our biggest challenge is to get people into the theaters initially. Once they see the movie, we're confident the word-of-mouth will be very positive and the film will catch on.

DK: If you will watch only one movie this summer, it is bound to be a Chiranjeevi or Nagarjuna movie. But if you'll watch more than one, make sure FLAVORS is one of them!

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