K Satish’s director debut ‘Hope’ is ready for the release. This film deals with pressure in our educational system which is inducing suicidal tendency among the students. Satish worked as fashion photographer, fashion designer and event manager before venturing into filmmaking. He had the entire script in Telugu and English and a storyboard ready before embarking into the production. He roped in maestro Ilayaraja to score music for Hope. Idlebrain.com met with Satish for an exclusive interview. Here are the excerpts -
Tell us about your background?
Basically I am a B.Com graduate. I started my career with a printing press. Owing to my dad’s ill health I had to close that shop and join my father’s water management company. In two years time I became a contractor to the extent that I had done some of the biggest projects in Hyderabad. I quit that profession to join Breeze advertising. After a couple of years I quit that profession to join distribution.
Then I bought a still camera without having any knowledge about photography. I also bought lots of books on camera. In two months of time, I was ready to become a fashion photographer. I have done lots of portfolios. My hand is been lucky to lot of people, especially Diya Mirza. That is how I got connected to Telugu film industry. Lots of producers and directors used to come to me for new model portfolios. I did a lot of fashion shows. I also started designing fashion wear. Kakatiya Sheraton used to give me the hall for free so that I could hold my exhibitions over there. We used to have two shows over there an year. After spending eight years in that profession, I decided to quit.
I met GK Mohan (of Gemini TV). I joined the group of Gemini TV. I know Gemini Kiran since 20 years. The first function I did was audio function of Indra. I did lots of field events later. RP Patnaik's musical night in Vizag was a huge challenge. I single handedly designed and executed the Andhrawala audio launch at Nimmakur (3 trains, 70 buses and a helicopter). My last film program was hexa platinum disc function of Anji.
Then I decided to quit Gemini and make films. When I told my plans to Gemini Kiran he encouraged me by offering the help of free usage of publicity, unit and labs. With these three things in my hand I could go to producers.
Tell us about Hope?
It happened a couple of years back when my daughter’s senior in intermediate college committed suicide. It disturbed her. It was like a sensation to me. When I went into the reality, it was really a pathetic condition. It became more of a mission kind of thing than just making a film.
Hope is about an old man who lost hope in his life. He is living alone. He sees a girl who is losing everything in front of him. She has got no hope left. How he gets her into her life, how he rekindles hope in her and in turn how he is also finds hope forms the gist of the film. This film is about how these two people spread the hope around them. This film is basically about education, pressures of education and suicides.
I prepared the script with Rama Naidu in mind as an actor. When I approached Rama Naidu to narrate story, he avoided me thinking that I was looking for a producer. When I told him that I want him to act and somebody else would produce, he was surprised. I designed costumes for Premayanamaha produced by Haranadh Policharla. I called him up and gave the script and casting details. He read the script and decided to produce the film. It is a cakewalk for me later. I would like to thank producer Haranadh Policharla for completely trusting me with the project. He gave the finances in time and made sure that production is handled very smoothly.
Tell us about the producer Haranadh Policharla?
A successful, practicing doctor in USA, Harnath Policherla has always strived to play his part to bring about positive changes in the Indian society. Along with forays in several other avenues, he has chosen the impactful and wide reaching medium of films to advance his mission.
His deep social commitment and concern for the future of the next generation led him to become actively involved in 'hope' as its producer. His passion for films goes back to his college days, during which time he won several awards for acting. He has produced five films to date.
In his commitment to spread the message of 'hope', Harnath Policherla intends to screen the film at various international festivals and forums before releasing it in India. This, he hopes would help create widespread awareness and spark off meaningful debate on the subject of education and its role in molding the society.
How did you rope in Ilayaraja?
When I made this film, I had only two names - Ilayaraja and AR Rehman. When I told this idea to people they laughed at me. I made a phone call to Ilayaraja from Hyderabad. He asked me who gave his number. When I went and told him that Rama Naidu is doing a major role he asked me if Rama Naidu has sent me. I told him that Rama Naidu does not even know about it.
Tell us about maestro's working style?
After watching the film, we were returning to his studio. Ilayaraja was talking about shots in the film. People normally talk about scenes, but he talked about visual shots. His memory is very powerful. When he agreed to do the film, he asked me to come to his studio at 6 am.
There is a portion in Prasad Labs, Chennai that is dedicated to Ilayaraja. Nobody touches it other than Ilayaraja. He has a keyboard and headphones. He takes a paper and pen and start writing some numbers while watching the reel. My film has no songs. It has only background music. Hope film has lot of scope for rerecording. He watches the film reel by reel. After watching a reel, he puts on his head phones and starts writing notes on the sheet by using numbers he noted down while watching the reel. After writing the notes, he walks through the hall to his office room. His assistant comes and starts dividing the notes instrument wise. He photo copies it and distributes it to all the musicians. They practice for 3-4 hours. After practice is over, Ilayaraja comes back composes the music using live orchestra. His memory is so powerful that he remembers everything in the reel and composes background music that matches the mood of the film frame to frame. Generally music directors use stopwatch to measure the length of a scene they record. Even the musicians does not even know what they are playing. They blindly follow the notes and perform. They will only understand it when they watch music on the screen. Ilayaraja completes his work by 9 pm in the night. 6 am to 9 pm are his working hours.
Another remarkable thing about maestro is that he mixes entire thing live. He does not leave anything for post editing. Our DTX mixing engineer Madhusudhan Reddy says that he wont touch any of Ilayaraja’s work while doing DTS mixing as he incorporates right levels while doing the rerecording.
Maestro is very systematic and he is very particular about minute details. Everything in his studio has to be in place. The pen, towel, tea cup, head phones etc are kept in the same position all the time. Even the amount of tea that is poured in cup is measured. The same person need to hand over the tea everyday.
Is Hope an art film?
I don’t segregate films into art or commercial. There are only two kinds of films - good or bad. But Hope film is not for entertainment, recreation or time pass. Hope film will have lots of emotion and a tremendous social message. It is straight forward film saying - You are a human being and you are not an animal. Animals live for themselves. Human race always plan for the future generation. If our ancestors had not planned we would not have been here. We are forgetting that in education. After 30 years, out country will be bankrupt of intellectuals if we don’t change now. Hope will be a wakeup call for our society.
Is Hope a Telugu film or an English film?
It is completely a Telugu film. We found Hope title to be the perfect fit for this subject. Nobody lives without hope.
How many days did you shoot the film?
We shot the entire film in 20 days. We used only 20000 ft negative for the film and the final product consists of 10,000 ft. That is 1:2 which is very economical compared to the industry standard of 1:5. The duration of the final product is 106 minutes.
Who are you targeting this film to?
This film is for every parent, every student and every teacher.
Tell us about Roshini organization?
Roshini organization was started around 8 years back and it deals with suicides with a special emphasis on child suicides. They go to each school and do counseling to 10th class students and their parents. I want to create awareness about Roshini organization by giving brochure and leaflet of Roshini that talks about how to identify symptoms among the people who have suicidal tendencies at all theaters exhibiting Hope. Roshini organization wants to take Hope film to 13 centers they have. They want me to talk at their conferences to be held in New Delhi and London.
Did you have any previews?
I had about 12 previews held so far. We have shown it to intellectuals as well as ordinary people. Audience in 9 previews shows gave me standing ovation involuntarily. Till now nobody has come up and gave any negative feedback. Climax is the most moving moment of the film. Everybody is identifying with it.
What is the reason behind casting Rama Naidu in the main character. Though he produced 130+ films, he never dared to cast himself in full length roles in any of his films owing to the fact that he came to film industry to become a hero?
When I told about my idea of casting Rama Naidu, one of my close friend and a bigwig in the industry scolded me. After the movie got over, I shown him the film. He said that I could able to translate whatever I told him onto the screen perfectly. When I offered him this role, Rama Naidu was also not confident that he could pull it off. We told him to be natural. Cinematographer Sharath was my childhood friend. Sharath had a good rapport with Rama Naidu. We did scenes with small dialogues in the beginning, as he could not remember big lines. Once he is on the sets, he started living the role. There is an emotional scene between Rama Naidu and Kalyani where they were supposed to cry. Kalyani used glycerin and Rama Naidu performed it without using glycerin. His favorite line as a producer is - time burning is money burning. We start shoot at 8 am and finish it by 4 pm. He is disciplined and very punctual. I learned a lot from him. Rama Naidu told me that his biggest critic is Suresh Babu and Suresh Babu immensely liked Hope film. If he gives me a chance, I will do another film with Rama Naidu as an actor.
What are your future projects?
I am currently working on a major script by keeping Nagarjuna on my mind. Nobody else can suit this out and out commercial film. I don’t belong to David Dhawan category, I come from Ram Gopal Varma school.
Tell us about your association with Jayant and Ram Gopal Varma?
Jayant C Paranji is my classmate in intermediate. We were actively involved in dramatics circle. We used to bunk and watch films. We used to rip apart films in our discussions.
I know Ramu from library days. We used to discuss about scenes in the films. When I went to Annapurna studios during Shiva time, Ramu asked me if I remember the title of Russian film we watched together. He was using one scene from that film to shoot the lift episode in climax of Shiva. I brought that cassette to him. We used to meet regularly. After Govinda Govinda film was completed, he has shown me the shots of Rangeela film. He said that he was moving to Bombay permanently with Rangeela.
Who is your favorite director and favorite films?
Steven Spielberg is my all time favorite. In Telugu Simhadri and Indra are my all time favorites.
Do you have any suggestions to the director wannabes?
Passion and creativity are fuels. You can’t ride on a fuel. You need a vehicle to ride on. Vehicle is the script. One need to do home work. Get your script and story board in place. You need to understand the 24 crafts in filmmaking. Know the subject before you do something. Ramu once told me that only three of his films had scripts - Shiva, Kshanakshnam and Rangeela. All other films he did not have a script. Most of the other films are made with an exciting ideas, but not with a solid script.
Siva Nageswara Rao (Director)
Ajay Varma (Hero)
Kamalinee Kukherjee (Heroine)
Sriya Reddy (Heroine)
Muruga Doss (Director)
Uday Kiran (Hero)
T Gopichand (Hero)
Kalyan Ram Nandamuri (Hero)
Siva Kumar (Director)
Rasool Ellore (Cinematographer & Director)
SS Rajamouli (Director)
Sameer Reddy (Cinematographer)
Marthand K Venkatesh
Sayaji Shinde (Villain)