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Interview with Sampath Nandi
Date: 4 April, Hyderabad

Everybody raised eyebrows when this one-film old Sampath Nandi is selected to direct Ram Charan Tej’s 4th film Racha. He proved his mettle with promos and songs so far. Box office will tell the rest of the story when Racha releases on 5 April. Here are excerpts of an exclusive interview with Sampath Nandi -

I am born and brought up in Hanmakonda. I studied there till 10th class and went to Narayana College in Nellore to do my plus 2. After that I finished my B Pharmacy in VLCP, Raichur. I was the topper on my college.

There used to be a librery in front of my house in Hanmakonda and my parents never encouraged me to watch movies. They wanted me to go to library instead. Book reading has become my favorite pastime and I used to read all books in the library. May be it prompted me to become a writer to start with.

My first film as an audience was Yamudiki Mogudu and I became an instant fan Chiranjeevi and started watching all his movies. I started analysing films over a period of time from the writer’s perspective. I used to like progressive and entertaining dialogues of Posani Krishna Murali and got hold of his number from a film diary. I used to converse with him in his free time over phone. I was excited after watching Alluda Majaka film as Posani is the dialogue writer. I asked him if I can join him as an assistant. He told me to complete my degree first. I completed by degree and joined post graduation.

Trivikram Srinivas used to work for Posani at that time. Three months after Trivikram left, Posani asked me to come and join him. During that time Trivikram said that if one works with Posani for a couple of years, they can survive anywhere in the earth. I stopped my post-graduation and joined Posani to work with him for 3 years. Later I wrote dialogues for N Shankar for Bhadrachalam (Ghost writer). He gave me title card for his next film Ayudham. Later on, I worked for Priyadarshini Ram’s Manodu.

I was introduced to Johnny Lal (bother of famous cinematographer Kabirlal). I went to Mumbai and did ad films and portfolios for models. During that time, I worked as a ghost dialogue writer for over 30 Telugu films. It used to take over a week to pen dialogues for a film.

I am a huge fan of Tamil director Shankar and I like the way he makes entertaining movies with a strong social message. I prepared such kind of a subject and went to many producers and heroes. Nobody had confidence in me because I never worked in direction department and I worked purely as a dialogue writer. That is when I decided that I should direct a film and use it as a show reel to get projects from big heroes.

That’s how I got to direct Emaindi Ee Vela film. It was made in a modest budget of 3 crores and made a profit over 80 lacs. This film was shot in 50 working days. Producer Radha Mohan invested half of it and I got few friends to invest remaining 50% of it. We have made a few strategic mistakes in distribution and promotion. Other wise, it would have made more money. I got around 7 offers in the first week of that film’s release.

Sanam Naga Ashok Kumar invited me to his office. He asked me if I have another script that can be made in a budget of 3 crores. I told him that purpose of making of Yemaindi Ee Vela was to use it as a wild card to get big films. Then he asked me if I have a script for Allu Arjun or Gopichand. I narrated a script. He called me again after 2 days and asked me to go to Chiranjeevi’s house and narrate the script. I went there with a story board and started narrating film to Chiranjeevi for 2 and half hours. The first words Chiranjeevi told me after listening to the script was ‘Bagundi. Chala Bagundi’. I narrated it to Ram Charan Tej after two days. He liked it and told me that dialogues/screenplay are entertaining.

What Racha film is all about?
Racha means celebration here. It is the story of a basti boy who is aimless. Heroine who has an aim comes into his life and he owns it. Racha film is about hero fulfilling the dream of his father. This film also has some message. I wouldn’t say that it’s a great story, but a decent masala film. The screenplay of this film is going to be promising and different. Racha is going to be a full meals for fans.

Did you find yourself lucky when you were offered a film with Ram Charan Tej?
People might think that I am lucky, but I know how much struggle I had gone through till I got this project.

What do you think are strengths of Racha?
Ram Charan Tej and screenplay. It might be a routine film for mass heroes, but a variety film for Ram Charan Tej.

Who idea is it to remix Vana Vana film?
It was my idea and Vana Vana is my favourite song. There is a situation in the film where we need a wet song. I asked Mani Sharma to remix Vana Vana song. He said that Vana Vana original song itself sounds like remix. I convinced him and made him remix the song. We retained the lyrics as well. I am glad that it is getting tremendous response now.

Who are your favorite directors?
I am a huge fan of Shankar. I like films in Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s production. I like the way he takes up a serious issue and narrates in entertaining way with nice satire. I like the production values in Yashraj films. I like the style quotient in Sanjay Gadhvi’s films.

How does it like to be chosen by Chiranjeevi for directing Racha?
Chiranjeevi has entrusted me to direct a film for Ram Charan Tej. He has also given interval idea for the film and it worked really well. I have done my work sincerely and made sure that the trust of Chiranjeevi is properly utilised.

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