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Interview with Prem Kumar Patra
Date: July 23, Hyderabad
prem kumar patra

When you talk about films, you are talking business. It is a proven formula that there is hardly any place for a sermon in the rules of commercial film making. But, here is one man. Prem Kumar Patra. A very lesser-known person in the industry indeed, but his second film in Telugu – Aa Naluguru – is known for making inroads into the psyche of Telugu audience, making an everlasting impression. Of course, his debut film Megham was a dud and he says: “It’s a blunder on my part to have believed mediocre technicians.” Away from the publicity-mongering, Prem Kumar is determined to make films “that should educate the public morally.” This trend, he believes, will help building a truly agile and harmonious society, though the process might delay. Afresh, he is into the making of a curiously titled film Vinayakudu, starring teammates of Happy Days – Krishnudu and Sonia. Excerpts from Idlebrain’s exclusive interview with him:

Tell us about your journey into film industry?
I am from a remote village near Madhira in Khammam district. My father was a teacher. He gave me good education and made me sensitive to the sufferings of the people. I simply can’t control myself when I see anybody in tears. My brought up made me not acquisitive in nature. I finished my schooling at Raghunathapalem and college at Khammam. I finished my PG at Osmania University, Hyderabad. I also worked with Food Corporation of India. Now, I am working in a senior post with the HPCL.

Ever since my childhood, I have been passionate about fine arts. Be it stage performances, street plays, burrakathas or harikathas in villages, I was magnetically attracted towards them. I liberally assisted students who wanted to perform stage plays. I know today’s film industry is totally westernized. People are forced to watch them. But, you can’t force them again and again, or continuously.

Take films like – Muthyala Muggu, Sankarabharanam, Devadasu, Athma Balam or Matrudevo Bhava. They have permanent value. What about our films? Just they come, possibly collect money and vanish. Is it the filmmaking which our ancestors desired? Of course, I am certainly not against modern trends. I wish that our films should also not miss the ground realities happening in the families of the audiences. Let them be closer to their hearts. With this intention, I made Aa Naluguru. It ran for 100 days. People talked about it. I am happy to some extent that I could tickle the fast-fading values of human love and concern.

What is the inspiration for making present film Vinayakudu?
After giving a good film like Aa Naluguru, I was seriously contemplating to give another such a dreamy yet realistic film. I felt that such a film should also entertain the youth, say students. This is how Vinayakudu shaped up. Director Saikiran showed me the entire film through his narration. Whether I get my money back or not, I am determined to take it to the targeted audience. I will certainly do it. You will see it.

What is the main theme of the film? Say moral?
I like multicolored themes. Then only entertainment can be rich. What is happening in our films? Always, it is love between a beautiful girl and a handsome boy. Is beauty or being handsome a yardstick for falling in love? Certainly, not. Love is beyond physical perceptions. It completely belongs to the inner core of feelings. I boldly say, our film shows that human love, possible love and all-pervading love between a glamorous heroine and a guy who is not match to her physically, but in the true sense of love. It is a cool subject, so far untreated in our industry.

What are your priorities in filmmaking?
Forever I believe this. Countless people say this – different from the routine stuff. But, I have already implemented it in Aa Naluguru. Now, again, the same principle in Vinayakudu. From normal to abnormal (even it is). But, without a good story, it is like eating meals without rice. Nothing can substitute a good script. It is the real hero. A good story is always a true reflection of conditions in society.

Why did you take a big gap after Aa Naluguru?
See, I am not a commercial producer. I don’t call it a gap. What can I do when I don’t get a good script? When I got the one with Vinayakudu, I didn’t hesitate to ground it.

Tell us about your director Saikiran?
You know that he worked as assistant to Sekhar Kammula. I know him even before the making of Happy Days. When we wanted to start Vinayakudu, he got the opportunity to work for Happy Days. I suggested Saikiran to work with Sekhar, so that he could gain some experience. After the movie turned a blockbuster, the young man got more confidence in him. He had put maximum efforts on the script of Vinayakudu and finally we launched it. We are all happy with the director. I don’t deny that Vinayakudu will have the mark of a Sekhar Kammula. After all, what is wrong in taking in something that’s good for entertainment?

How do you justify giving the title Vinayakudu to your film?
It is in tune with the story. And certainly, not deliberate. However, I can’t answer this. If I do, it will like narrating the script to you. Better, the justification is watched on the screen. I bet. The audience after watching the film would unanimously say that Vinayakudu is hundred percent the apt title.

Tell us about lead pair Sonia and Krishnudu in this film?
I already said Story is the Hero. And story is also the heroine. You will not have any separate hero or heroine. Everybody is a character. Every character is vital. Sania, Krishnudu and two more girls Poonam Kaur and Ankita also did interesting and realistic roles. All of them get separated. How they unite again forms an enthralling narration. But, I haven’t told you the climax. And I can’t.

You said you will do a role in this film like the one you did in Aa Naluguru. Tell about this?
I always liked acting. But, I have my own drawbacks and time schedules that I could not completely concentrate on this. For that reason, I just limited myself to a small role in Aa Naluguru. Similarly, I am doing a ten-minute role in Vinayakudu as Office-boss. It is modeled as a serious character, but will give enough laughter. I take the opportunity to thank MS Raju garu for doing a role in this film. He is a thorough gentleman with a burning passion for films.

What is the importance given to music in Vinayakudu?
This is film basically a youthful entertainer. Definitely, it requires vibrant and lively music. Background score is also important. We have introduced one Shyam Prasanna as music director. There are six songs and all were recorded. All the lyrics will have literary value with apt music. All of them are situational. I have special liking for music. It was me who had introduced KM Radhakrishna as music director with Megham. But, very few people know that. I am happy he became a busy man now. I hope Shyam Prasanna will also get good results with this film.

How about Vinayakudu rushes? Are you satisfied?
Absolutely. I gave complete freedom to my director and all the cast and crew. I don’t like to poke my nose in their affairs. I hardly visit the shooting spots. Though I visit, I keep at a distance and don’t disturb anybody. Cameraman Vinda’s work will sure be an asset to the film.

What about your contacts in film industry?
I am a very silent person. My practical knowledge of the film industry is very less or even says nothing. I just do my own work and don’t interfere into the works of others. I know some people, big and small. But, I don’t take lenience from them. Just, I maintain Hello-Hai relationship. I generally avoid partying and meetings for meeting sake.

Is there anything that made you disgusted in the industry?
Yes. When the film Aa Naluguru was released, it got very good response from the social elite. It was me who brought back Rajendra Prasad when he was maintaining a low profile. How many people know about director Chandra Siddartha before Aa Naluguru? They never spoke a word about me either in their interviews or on the stages. They had even not preferred to talk to me over phone. This kind of utilizing the opportunities and forgetting its creators make me sick. Anyways, it’s a good experience to me. Even you can write this also. I don’t mind.

When will Vinayakudu release?
We are planning it in August last. The audio also will be next month.

Your future projects?
I want to do all kinds of films. But, I prefer to stuff each one with a message useful to the public. I have also learnt to inject the so-called commercial elements into the films, not for my satisfaction, but for the bigger success of the films themselves.

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