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Interview with VN Aditya by Jeevi

: 17th May 2002 Venue: Sultan Bazaar, Hyd
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VN Aditya is the hottest director in the scene now with a blockbuster 'Manasanta Nuvve' in his kitty. Currently he is directing Sreeram, which is due for release on 31st July 2002. He has a film each with Chiranjeevi and Bala Krishna in the pipeline. met up with this unassuming and humble director at the shooting spot of Sreeram in Sultan Bazaar, Hyderabad. Here are the excerpts of the interview that lasted for 45 minutes.


Tell us about yourself and your background?

None of my family members or forefathers had any relationship with film industry. My grandfather was very much interested in academics. He ran away from home to pursue his academic career, when his father asked him to do farming. My grandfather completed graduation on his own and started working for a bank. He made sure that all his sons completed their graduation and worked as bank employees. My grandfather made sure that all his sons completed their graduation and joined as bank employees.

I come from a middle class family, where everybody worked in decent white-collar jobs. But my father was an avid movie buff. Upon getting an invitation from Adurthy Subba Rao garu, he even planned to work as an assistant director to Adurthi garu. But my grandfather stopped him from joining films as he felt that filmdom is a field of insecurity. Hence, my father, with an unfulfilled desire of not making it into films, started writing stories and did literary pursuits. He has a library with a collection of 7000 odd books from Telugu and English languages.

When I was five years old, my father took me to see English and Telugu films on a daily basis in Vizag. With the amount of movies I used to see, gradually watching movies became one of my habits like reading books. At that time Maya Bazaar and Muthyala Muggu were my favorite films. I had seen those films numerous times. I also did a mono action of Rao Gopal Rao's dialogues from Muthyala Muggu several times when I was in second and third classes. That probably could be one of the reasons for driving me into film industry as a technician.

When I was studying my seventh class at Eluru, I got an idea to make a film though I do not know how to go about it. I designed a banner Uma Prasad Art Productions (on my father's and mother's name) and wrote it on a notebook. At the bottom, I added - a film by VN Aditya. My mathematics tuition master, Naga Bhushanam garu who worked for St. Xavier's school, saw that page and asked me what it was. I told him that I would make a film on that banner when I grow up. He then told me that movie making, like movies, involves various roles like producer, director, hero etc. He wanted me to be specific about what I wanted to become.

One day he took me to 'Appu Chesi Pappu Koodu' and explained the list of technical departments shown in the title cards of the movie, to me. I noticed that the titles of producer and director were more attractive, as both these titles appeared in two languages (Telugu and English) with a special background score. Even the name of a big hero like NTR appeared in Telugu without any specialty attached to it. Since, my father did not have enough money to produce a film, I told my master that I would become a director

I never told my parents that I was interested in films till I joined my intermediate. My mother started insisting that I should prepare well for EAMCET examinations. Joining 'Siddardha College of Arts and Sciences' had changed my outlook towards life. I started participating in extracurricular activities like quizzes, debates, stage events, writing plays for radios etc. Out of 180 working days my college had, I used to attend only 18 days. On all the remaining days, I used to be in other colleges representing my college in intercollegiate competitions. I slowly got used to the social life and started mingling with the new crowds easily. But, none of my friends in college knew about my aspirations of joining films till I told them in my last year of college. Whenever I saw a film, I used to discuss about the film like 'manamaithenaa ….'. The fact that Ram Gopal Varma, a trendsetter, also studied in the Siddartha's other college (Siddartha college of Engineering), inspired me to make a grand entry into Telugu films like his sensational debut.

After finishing my degree, I applied for Pune Film Institute. I passed the examination. They wanted me to get an experience letter from a producer saying that I worked for at least five films. Ravi Kondala Rao is an old friend of my father. I went to Madras and persuaded Ravi Kondala Rao garu for eight months to help me out. He told me that even if I do a course in film direction at film institute for 3 years, I had to come back and join as an assistant director. Instead of that I could as well try for assistant directorship now itself which would help me gain much more practical knowledge. Then I placed the ball in his court to help me find a position as an assistant director. He then took me to Chandamama Vijaya Combines where eventually I worked as an apprentice for 'Bhairava Dweepam', as an assistant director for Brindavanam and as an associate director for Sri Krishnarjuna Vijayam. All these three films were directed by Singeetam Srinivasa Rao garu. I also assisted in three Tamil movies (one each with Kamal Hassan, Rajnikant and Rehman) produced by Chandamama Vijaya Combines.

Later on I shifted to Hyderabad and joined the company of Rama Naidu garu. I worked as an associate director for 'Preminchukundam Raa!' I liked the working style and attitude of Jayant so I continued working as an associate to him. I worked for Bavagaru Bagunnara. I was given title credit for screenplay for that film. I also suggested the title 'Bavagaru Bagunnara' for that film. From then I started getting recognition and confidence that I was capable of handling projects independently. Later, I worked for 'Premante Idera'. I then decided that I should start my trails as a director.

I stopped working as an associate. For two years, I was sitting idle as nobody encouraged me. Then I got an offer to direct 'Manasanta Nuvve' for MS Raju garu, since he wanted to make a movie with new comers. S Gopal Reddy garu and Paruchuri brothers garlu recommended me very strongly for that film. MS Raju garu gave us the story line. All of us sat together and developed it into a complete script. I had to wait for 9 years (7 years as associate and two years idle) to get an opportunity to direct a film. I faced the best and worst phases of my life during that period. Finally I landed up at a safe place.

Your first film 'Manasanta Nuvve' was a straight film and 'Sreeram' is a remake. How different (or difficult) is it to direct a remake film?

It would be a grave mistake to assume that the audience would like the same points, which I like. We just don't know what we are missing when we make remakes.

I prefer making straight films. I hope that 'Sreeram' would be my first and last remake film. Its very difficult to direct a remake. The kind of vision I get by reading the manuscript on the paper is totally different from the vision I get by watching a film in different languages. First of all, we do not know what are the factors that contributed to the success of the original film. It would be grave mistake if we feel that audience like the points, which are personally liked by me. We do not know what we are missing when we make remakes. Personally I feel that I am not fit for doing remakes. But I liked the film 'Dhill' (The original Tamil film from which 'Sreeram' is being made now). They projected a leaner emotion throughout the film. The treatment of this film is very much similar to 'Manasanta Nuvve'. Manasanta Nuvve has love story texture and Sreeram would be having the action film look. I liked the formula of 'Dhill' a lot. It kept the entire auditorium engaged for 2 and half hours. I adopted that as it is very much similar to my way of looking at a film. I asked Burugapally garu (producer of Sreeram) to encourage some other new talent as director for Sreeram as it is a remake. He gave me that assurance and freedom to play around with the original and make as many changes as possible to make it look very different from the original. I accepted this film only after I got that assurance from the producer. I could not say no as I had an attachment with him since the days I worked as associate for 'Premante Idera'.

After 'Manasanta Nuvve', I suggested Uday Kiran that he should make a film like 'Dhill' to get full-fledged hero image. When I was offered to direct the remake of 'Dhill', Uday insisted me on directing the film, as I was the one who suggested that he should act in a film like that.

Don't you prefer making films with stories prepared by you?

I narrated 8 stories to 11 producers prior to the release of Manasanta Nuvve. None of them materialized and unfortunately nobody is asking me for those stories now. I decided to make films with stories written by me after my film with Chiranjeevi garu is released.

Fortunately, Sreeram is made to look like an authentic Telugu film. No shot or emotion from the original is repeated in Sreeram. We took the essence and mood of the original and changed everything else including the characterizations. Now when I compare the two films Dhill and Sreeram, I find Sreeram to be much better film.

Chiranjeevi has announced a film with you long back. But it has not gone to the floors yet. What could be the reason?

When I accepted Megastar's film, I told Chiranjeevi garu that I am going to do 'Sreeram' and needed some time. And he happily agreed. I don't think that it is being dragged. At the same time, directing Chiranjeevi is not an easy task. It's been 10 years since Chiranjeevi has passed the stage of fitting into a story written by the storywriters these days. We have to keep his image and stature in mind while preparing the story and we are doing that.

Is the story finalized for that film?

No. Not yet! It would be finalized in a couple of days.

When would it go on floors?

It depends on Chiranjeevi garu. It would go on floors whenever he think that its appropriate time. He has his own plans. I can wait for him to announce the dates, as it's a greatest opportunity to work with him. Once Sreeram releases, I can start working on the subject of Chiranjeevi garu's film till he gives a go ahead. Till then I will not work or accept any other films.

There is news in media that you are preparing a story for Balayya?

That's a surprise to me. I am very close to Bala Krishna garu and I have a very good rapport with him. We are good friends and we play around a lot. I worked for two films with him under the tutelage of Singeetam Sreenivasa Rao garu. He called me recently and narrated a story line. I liked the way he narrated it. I told him that I like the story line. Then he replied saying that I should direct the film since I liked the storyline and that he would wait till for me till I complete my current commitments.

You have done two films with Uday Kiran now and as a follow up you are doing a film each with the biggest mass heroes of Telugu cinema. How do you feel about it?

I feel happy. Moreover, I worked with them as an associate director. I know their emotions and moods and I know how to move around with them. I also know how to project them on the screen. I am confident that I can project them the way public wants to see them.

When you watch a film in a public theater, do you see it like a director or a common man?

When I watch a film, I watch it as a common man. I see if I like the emotions and moods of the film. I really don't care to concentrate on how a shot was taken. This helps me to work for good screenplays. If screenplay is not perfect then execution falters.

Why haven't you have written screenplays for the films you have directed so far?

Paruchuri brothers have written screenplays for both the films. Paruchuri Venkateswara Rao garu is a master of screenplay. He knows how to place the scenes at the right slots. I had a very good association with him for the last five years. I personally think, he is number one among the existing cinema writers. For the last 25 years, he has been writing scripts and consistently succeeding in catching the pulse of people in the auditorium. I learnt a lot of things from him like how to develop a screenplay, how to maintain the mood of the film, how to convey our ideas to the audience etc. To be frank, I did not get a chance to write screenplay for the films directed by me. Lets hope that I would get one soon.

Who are the persons from cinema field who inspired you the most?

Ravi Kondala Rao garu, Singeetam Sreenivasa Rao garu, Paruchuri Venkateswara Rao garu, Jayant garu and KS Sethu Madhavan garu are the people who influenced me the most. Among the other directors, I like K Raghavendra Rao garu, K Viswanath garu and Bapu garu the most. Of all the writers, I like Mullapudi Venkata Ramana garu and Jandhyala garu. I also admire Ram Gopal Varma, Vamsi and Krishna Vamsi. You can see influences of all these people in my works.

So when will you produce a film on Uma Prasad Arts Productions banner?

I will definitely make a film on Uma Prasad Arts Productions (UPAP) banner. But, Siddardha College helped me in becoming a full-fledged social person. The encouragement given by the staff, management and students of that college is unbelievable. I love Siddardha college as much as I love our country India. Even today, I am in touch with all my friends from Siddardha College. We all decided to make films on 'Siddardha Creations' banner, which is named after our college. That would become my regular banner. We have even registered 'Siddardha Creations' banner last year. I would be making films on these two banners. I groomed few of my creative friends in technical fields like editing, production and music so that we all can work together at a later point of time.

What is the encouragement you got from your parents?

My mother was never interested to see me in movie field. She is scared as it's an insecure profession and we do not have any backing from the field. I argued with her saying that none of us tried to do different. All of us were more interesting in securing a job in bank. I also told her that if I become successful in movie field, I would become a source of inspiration for the next generation in my family. If I fail, then I would become a lesson for them. Either way, I am helping the future generation from our family. I do not like routine 9 to 5 jobs. In fact, I never applied for a job after my graduation.

My mother saw 'Manasanta Nuvve' and liked it immensely. Even after the success of 'Manasanta Nuvve', my mother asked me to apply for Civil services as my ambition of becoming director is fulfilled. But by that time, Telugu cinema got injected into every cell of my blood. My father was a constant source of encouragement to me right from the beginning.

Did you ever get depressed after entering this field?

We get depressed when we expect something and if it does not happen. I am happy with what I am doing. Even today I have the same thrill what I had when I went to observe the making of 'Brindavanam' film. I decided to continue directing films as long as I continue to express the same thrill. Once that thrill ceases to exist in me, I would retire from the field voluntarily.

My biggest ambition in life was to direct a successful film and I achieved it. I am a simple man and I know my limitations. I am not over ambitious. Hence, I wont have any depression in life.

Your first film Manasanta Nuvve is an out-and-out class story. Sreeram is mass film. How could you do two contrasting films?

'Sreeram' would be liked by class and mass audiences alike. We played more on the emotions on the person in whose life a strange incident happens. I can't do a film with mass-build-ups. I can only deal with a story. I don't mind even if my films do not have technical excellence. But I want to have emotional excellence in my films. I want to play with the emotions of audiences. If I want the audience to laugh they should laugh. If I want them to cry, they should cry. The day when I fail to do so, I would accept it as my failure.

What I am confident about Sreeram is that everybody gets identified with the characters in the film. None of the characters are routine and filmy type. The audiences have become so clever that if we show a scene now, they can actually predict what comes next. I dealt Sreeram as a different story and never tried to desperately insert similar scenes of Manasanta Nuvve in this film.

Are you married?


When are you getting married?

I will marry once Chiranjeevi garu's film is completed. My marriage depends on how soon Chiranjeevi garu gives me dates (laughs)

There were speculations in media that Teja and Poori Jagannath were considered to direct a film each in the year 2000 for Chiranjeevi. But were dropped since they produced bloopers in their second attempts. Do you think you would stand a fair chance even if Sreeram becomes a flop?

I received a similar feedback from media and public about this, though I don't believe in it. But his perception was projected all over. Even if it is real, I do not have to bother about it, because I am very much confident of the success of 'Sreeram'. I personally feel that Teja and Poori are very talented directors. They came back with a bang with their third ventures. Films by big heroes go according to the planning of big heroes. Thousands of producers are queuing up to produce a film with Chiranjeevi. Even if Chiranjeevi gives an opportunity as a producer to a pedestrian, he will make a huge profit even before the film goes on floors. Chiranjeevi is in that range now. Chiranjeevi garu might have felt that doing that story at that point of time might not be good. But, for us it might appear like Chiranjeevi rejected them because they got flops. Poori Jagan's film started just now. I wont be surprised if Teja's film starts in the next year. A film would run for 100 days, just because of the presence of Chiranjeevi. The extra number of days Chiranjeevi's films run reflects the talent of director. Hence, I don't believe in those rumors. It might be just a coincidence.

What is the right way of becoming a director?

We must concentrate on the script we are making. The competition is pretty high here. The treatment you give to the film should be unpredictable to the audience. You should make sure that every scene of the film is fresh and audience should not feel that they have seen a similar scene before. We should make sure that the selection of cast, costumes and emotions are different. Don't go to the floors, if the script is not perfect. Perfect script does not mean a trimly bounded script. There should be clarity in mind. The entire film should be there in your mind before you make the film.

Interviewed by Jeevi
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