The name Siva Nageswara Rao reminds us of one film - Money. He amassed abundant goodwill with this trendsetting film. He has also delivered two more blockbusters in the form of Pattukondi Chooddam and Sisindri. However, his career graph went down later. In a bid to come into the form and prove his versatility in this changed environment, he is coming up with a thriller titled Photo. Idlebrain.com met Siva Nageswara Rao at editing studios for an exclusive interview. Here are the excerpts -
I was born and brought up in Uppalapadu (near Guntur). I completed my graduation from The Hindu College, Guntur. I was fascinated by films since my childhood. I went to Chennai to join Telugu film industry in 1979 at the age of 23. I struggled there for six months. In order to earn daily living, I acted in films like Burripalem Bullodu and Sannayi Appanna as unofficial junior artist (I did not have the membership card) . They used to pay be 100 rupee for 3 days. Then I joined in an office as an accountant. That is when I met Tripuraneni Chittibabu who recommended for work in direction department of ’Ammaiki Mogudu - Mamaki Yamudu’ (starring Krishna). That film was produced by Karunanidhi on Pumpuhar banner. Later on I worked for many of Vijaya Nirmala’s films like Bhogi Mantalu, Antham Kaadidi Aarambham, Doctor Cine Actor etc. I also worked with directors like Madhusudhana Rao, Lenin Babu, CS Rao, SA Chandra Sekhar. Then I worked with Kranthi Kumar for over six years (from Swathy film onwards).
Meeting Ram Gopal Varma:
It was during Rao Garillu time, I worked with Ram Gopal Varma. I was working on behalf of the director and Ram Gopal Varma was doing it from producer’s side. He said that he would be directing a film soon and he wanted me to be co-director of that film. I immediately accepted his offer. He asked me the reasons for accepting and I gave him three reasons -
1. There is more money in his offer
2. I can be frank with Ram Gopal Varma and I don’t need to praise him all the time.
3. If his film becomes hit, I can shift to him on a permanent basis.
During the time of Prema Yuddam, I was fired by the director Rajendra Singh Babu. That is when Ram Gopal Varma offered me the co-director job in Shiva. During the making of Kshanakshanam, Ram Gopal Varma offered me a deal of 5-lakh per film if I worked with him on permanent basis. I told him that I would like to direct a film as my main goal is to direct films. Then he suggested me a few story ideas and I picked up the storyline of Hollywood flick ’Ruthless People’. That is how Money film was made. We had a tough time in selling that film. We previewed Money for 50 days in Annapurna Studios Preview Theater to the distributors. Nobody liked that film. At one time, we thought that Money film would never release. But somehow Money hit the screens and the rest is history. We made that film in 55 lakhs budget (in Telugu and Hindi). We used very colloquial language in the film. Money collected over 3 crores of share.
Pattukondi Chooddam film:
The dead body episode in that film is inspired by a newspaper article I have read. I had the knack of giving humor touch to all kinds of emotions. Hence I used that tragic news to humor’s benefit in Pattukondi Chooddam film. This film too had problems. We screened this film for many buyers in Rama Naidu studios for 50 days. The film got instant hit talk after the release. We made the film with a budget of 80 lacs and this film collected a share of 1 crore in Nizam itself. We sold the film for 10 lacs in Nizam on NRA basis and it collected a share of 17 lacs in main theater of Sandhya 35mm. We erected a Brahmanandam cutout of 40 ft height at Sandhya complex, Hyderabad. A Chiranjeevi’s film was also playing in Sandhya complete at the same time. And Chiranjeevi’s cutout size was 35 ft. Lot of people scolded me for putting a bigger Brahmanandam cutout. That was a kind of sensation in those days.
I got inspired by ‘Baby’s Day Out’ film and wanted to one such kind of film in Telugu. That is when I saw the photo of Nagarjuna and Amala with their son Akhil. I went to Nagarjuna’s house and asked Amala for the dates of hero. She said that she don’t handle the dates of Nagarjuna. I clarified that I was referring to her son Akhil. She was hesitant. I gave her the VCD of Baby’s Day Out. Later on Nagarjuna met me said that he would produce the film. All the profits from that film were to go to Blue Cross Society. We made that film on lavish scale. We exposed around 100 rolls. Nagarjuna bought a building in Banjara Hills for Blue Cross Society in Banjara Hills from the profits earned by Sisindri.
The story of this film is based on a real incident that happened around two and half years back in AP Coastal area. The same incident repeated in Nizam around 9 months back. The moment you watch the film, you would come to know what I am talking about. It deals about a burning problem in colleges. This film will have two songs, unexpected twists and an intelligent climax.
On the technical front, Soma KG (professor from Pune Film Institute) handled the cinematography. He used different lighting scheme for the film. There is huge scope for good background music in this film.
To sum up, the concept of Photo is -
Love is not a word.
Love is a sentence.
Sometimes, it could be a life sentence too!
Money and Pattukondi Chooddam made a comedy director. With that tag, people thought that I could able to do comedy films only. Photo is one film that is going to break those shackles and prove that I could do other genre films too. I am expecting this film to give me a break like Money. Photo is a thriller flick!
Photo film will be released in the first week of August!
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)