July 27, 2006
Gangaraju Gunnam is one of the most respected Telugu film personalitie. His taste in filmmaking is truly unique. He also insists on originality in his story ideas. His last three projects - Little Soldiers, Aithe and Anukokunda Oka Roju - speak volumes about him. Idlebrain.com met with Gangaraju for chitchat on Amma Cheppindi film. Here are the excerpts -
What was the financial outcome of your last film Anukokunda Oka Roju (AOR)?
We lost money
Though you made good films, you could not make money. What is the reason?
I wish I knew the reason. Then I would not have lost money. I loved those stories and films. Not too many people must have loved it as much as I did. May be we could not able to connect with larger section of audiences. One thing I realized is that the little niche audience we have is growing from film to film. It doubled from Aithe to AOR.
What improvements have been done to Amma Cheppindi by using the experience you had with your past films?
Amma Cheppindi script was written 6-7 years ago, when Aithe and AOR were not even conceptualized. I have not changed my script. Regarding marketing of the film, I kept it simple and straight forward. Compared to the advertisement designing of Aithe and AOR, the design of Amma Cheppindi is very simple.
What does Amma Cheppindi deals with other than mother - son relationship?
The whole essence of Amma Cheppindi is in the song ‘Evaremanna Vinaku’ (penned by Gangaraju, Keeravani and Shivashakti Dutta together). They key line in that song is ‘Padi Talalunna emiti labham, talapulu rakshasamaithe’. It means character is more important than being smart or intelligent. An underdog can achieve something beyond what normal people can do. Its not what you have been gifted with, but what you make of the gifts you have. I kept the entire theme of the 2 and half hours film in this two and half minute song.
What genre this film belongs to?
It is an emotional drama.
Are there any elements of a thriller?
Yes, there will be elements of thriller. In this country with ISI around there will be some thriller elements.
So there is ISI hand in story of Amma Cheppindi?
Yes. But it is not the main part of the story. It is incidental.
Tell us about the characters in this film?
Amma: Amma character is a typical mother character well played by Suhasini. She kind of underplayed that role.
Bose: Sharvanand’s Bose character is the central character of the film. That is a typical child character. Sharvanand came up with natural performance. Sharvanand is Bose. Bose is Sharvanand. You won’t even think that it’s a performance. We have seen Sridevi, Kamal Hassan, Hrithik Roshan gave wonderful performance in similar roles in the past. We felt that they performed (acted) very well. Here you won’t get that feeling. That is the subtlety in Sharvanand’s performance.
Shiya Reddy: There are layers in her character. There are shades to her role and she has done wonderful job. This character is not a typical heroine role.
What kind of narration pattern did you follow for Amma Cheppindi?
It is simple and straightforward.
How do you find your work in Amma Cheppindi compared to that of Little Soldiers?
I was not knowing anything about filmmaking when I did Little Soldiers. Though I produced Aithe and AOR, I did not go to sets and locations. I have improved on scripting aspect. As a director, there may be slight improvement.
You said that there is ISI connection, there is one song in Morse code and the story takes place in rocket center. Does this story deal with espionage?
Yes. There are lots of elements and characters in the film. There is a character of retired army man played by Suman. There is a stingy character played by Tanikella. Krishna Bhagawan played the role of ‘go for all’ kind of guy from canteen. LB Sriram plays barber. Naga Babu plays an interesting role of sugar uncle. All these characters and elements intertwine towards climax. Everything in the film is directly related to the climax of the film.
Tell us about the climax?
Climax of the film take place for half an hour. Climax does not have any fights. It will have pure emotions.
What did you like the most in Amma Cheppindi?
Obviously the climax.
Tomorrow is the release day. Are you tensed up?
I am pretty relaxed today because financially everything is in order and prints delivery is going on smoothly. There is always the tension about what if film bombs. It would be a disaster for me. Filmmaking is the only business in which your fate is decided in few hours. Our hard work of one year is decided in few days. Apart from it, I am not bother whether people like it or not. I could able to translate 70% of what I have imagined. May be I could get it up to 80 to 85 percent if I improve. Imagination is always far greater than the creation.
What are the number of working days?
We planned for 65 days and completed the film in 64 days. We planned to use 80000 feet of negative. We ended up using 75000 feet. The movie running time is 2 hour and 22 minutes.
Tell us about the release?
It is a small release with over 30 prints. For the first time my film is releasing in USA, AP and Chennai simultaneously. Amma Cheppindi is releasing with two prints on 28th July in USA and two more prints will be added in the second week.
How is the business?
Film is sold out for some areas. I retained Nizam, Guntur and Nellore territories.
What is the secret of success of Amrutam TV serial?
May be there is dearth of decent comedy in Telugu TV channels. The comedy dished out is neither comic at all nor clean. Somehow people tend to interlace sex in Telugu comedy. We won over half the audience by not having vulgarity. Parents are happy that kids are addicted to Amrutam. The screenplay for Amrutam episodes is one of the most intricate with lots of twists and punches packed in the duration of 20 minutes. The end bang is always unexpected. It is the 5th year running and Amrutam is still the number one. I heard it is kind of a record in South India.
What is the reason behind making your son Sandeep Gunnam a cinematographer?
Why would I make choices for others even if it is my own son. I don’t believe in that school of thought. Each person should be free to make his own decision. Sunny (Sandeep Gunnam) chose to become a cinematographer. He was interested in theater when he was in Rishi Valley. Then my second son should also be in films as he is a movie buff. But he chose the career of catering and got himself a seat in Institute of Hotel Management, Aurangabad.
Tell us about the producer Urmila Gunnam?
She handled everything for Amma Cheppindi right from planning to finances. She did the casting too. It was she who zeroed upon Suhasini, Sharvanand and Sriya Reddy.
What are your future projects?
I want to retire from films if I get money in this film. I don’t mind the creative aspect of direction. But production is a big pain. I don’t mind directing for other producers. Production was never a choice. It was forced on me because there were no takers.
Click here to read complete interview of Gangaraju taken before the release of AOR.