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Postmortem - Anukokunda Oka Roju by Chandra Sekhar Yeleti
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What is this post mortem? is starting this exclusive, explosive and exciting section called Postmortem, where we conduct a postmortem of the latest releases. We shall be discussing and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the movies with their respective directors as to why those films have become hits/flops. We request the directors to give us their honest and frank opinions.
Anukokunda Oka Roju by Chandra Sekhar Yeleti

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The formation of story:

A movie or a book doesn't inspire me. Real life incidents do inspire me. There are certain people who drink beyond their capabilities and start doing nonsensical things, which they do not remember when they get up the next day. If alcohol could have such an impact, what would be the effect of drugs? You would not remember the next day what happened when you were drugged. This formed the basic story idea. This film is about the things a girl did after she was drugged.

I wanted to give the color of drug mafia to the entire film till I saw a few Swamijis. There are two types of Swamijis. One kind of Swamijis cheats people for money. There are some other kind of mad Swamijis who do believe that the mad things they do are miracles. I observed a Swamiji from a major city in AP who offers water from drainage to the devotees and make them drink. Another Swamiji from an AP village has far dangerous way of functioning. He would be roaming nude and there are numerous worshippers to him who are willing to do whatever he orders. All he does is nonsense and all those followers blindly believe him. I saw him doing unspeakable things (homo sex) in public, and the devotees and public from neighborhood believe that it is a 'leela' of Swamiji. I saw another episode in TV9 where a cross-dressing Swamiji who do nonsensical things. You might have heard about the mass suicide by 900 cult people in west. I have also read a book called 'World Famous Cults' to know more about them. All these incidents inspired in writing the cult people climax in the film.

I find drugs and cult culture similar. Both these things have heavy influence on mind. In fact, Cult culture is more dangerous than drugs. I mixed these two ingredients to make Anukokunda Oka Roju.

The casting:

Charmy: My initial choice was Genelia. She liked the story and did not have dates for the period we mentioned. We wanted to cast Bhumika Chawla later. But she did not give us a hearing. Then we wanted to cast new faces. We did not get the right girl. Then we saw a program of Charmy in TV and found her to speak nice Telugu. We fixed on her and she made us proud with her work in this film. She is very enthusiastic and worked really hard for this film.

Sashank: Sashank is our first choice to the character of cabbie. With fine performance in his first 3 films - Aithe, Sye and Anukokunda Oka Roju - he got right foundation to become a big artist in this industry.

Jagapati Babu: We initially cast Rajiv Kanakala for this film. I went to Jagapati Babu to narrate another film in which he is supposed to play the role of hero. He asked me to narrate Anukokunda Oka Roju subject out of curiosity. He liked the role of suspended cop immensely and wanted to do that role. Jagapati Babu added some commercial weight to this film. He gave extra dates for this film. He was very punctual. That character needs an aged man who is unmarried. We did not want him to look like regular police in films. Hence I avoided any hard drinks or cigarettes to his character and have him Real juice pack to carry with him all the time.

Narsing Yadav: Generally people look at Narsing Yadav as a Rowdy. But I see an innocent man in him all the time. He was the first choice for that character and did extremely well.

Harsha Vardhan: Lakshmipati was the original choice for that character. But he had to dropout after one schedule due to date problems. Harshavardhan was supposed to play the character played by Ravi Prakash. Harsha Vardhan did an amazing work.

Which scenes you shot first?
We shot the film as per the locations. We shot the climax of the film first. We shot the heroine introduction shots during the ending of shoot.

For the first time in Telugu films, I have seen the usage of drugs shown in a realistic way. What are the drugs used and how did you obtain information about the drugs?
It was a tough job, as we did not know the right source. The people who use drugs refuse to admit about it as it would expose them. We had to carefully maneuver to get authentic information about availability, shape and effect of various drugs. We made duplicate drugs after obtaining the information. The drugs (duplicates) we shown in the film are Ecstasy tablets, Rohypnol (DRD - Date Rape Drug) and ganja (Cocaine). They do distribute Cocaine in pockets with the image of scorpion drawn on it.

Shots that raking in emotions

Irritating shot: The scene in which Harshavardhan gets down from running car and gets in again. I was not getting the timing right. We shot this scene in Mothi Nagar road with around 2000 onlookers on the streets. I was not satisfied with that shot, but had to keep it anyway.

Enjoyable shot: The Tarzan jumping into auto from top by tearing of auto cover. It was a very difficult and risky shot. If you look at the expression on his face when he fell into auto, it was natural and very much appropriate to the scene.

Best shot: I am very much impressed the way Charmy acted in the scene where she looks at the cap of pen after she woke up. She gave the right expression. If she looks at too quizzically, it would reveal that there is a mystery behind it. You would know the meaning of her expression only in the climax when she remembers that scene again.

Frightening shot: The shot in which cult people throw kerosene on Charmy. If you look at the shooting location, the scene was so real that it terrifies you. The entire effect/ambience of the real shoot was not effectively converted into the film during postproduction.

Funny shot: The shot in which Narsing Yadav wears beard for the pouranika role and sits in the backseat of the car.

You seem to give lots of importance to minute details to have authenticity. Be it locations or ambience?
Yeah. We did not use any regular places. We deliberately avoided shooting in studios or regular outdoor locations. We shot a few scenes in Rama Naidu studios as a part of the story takes place in Rama Naidu studios. The credit should go to the art director Ravi in scouting the right locations. I used real locations as per the story.

What about cinematographer Sarvesh Murari?
He did an amazing work for a debutant. We used filters to get chocolate tint to the film. He used 'skip bleach' technique to shoot Needalle song. If you observe the shot of camera roaming around Charmy sitting at a height, those kinds of scenes would be shot using cranes. But, Sarvesh did it using handheld camera. He is highly talented. We used cloudy whether to shoot Aithe film, and we used direct sunlight shots for Anukokunda Oka Roju. Hence you find the texture of photography of Aithe to be pleasanter than Anukokunda Oka Roju.

What about Keeravani's work?
MM Keeravani has given wide array of tunes for this film. He saw the Aithe film and knew what kind of music he should give to my films. I am not big enough to give him a certificate. But I think, he has done terrific work.

Initially we planned to have 4 songs in the film. It was producer Gunnam Gangaraju's idea to insert Righto Lefto' song. We were supposed to have 'roaming in the night' shots for that block, but Gangaraju suggested that we should have a song. And it worked.

How many days did you take to shoot this film?

Pre-production: I worked over 2 months.

Production: we shot the film for 90 working days. We planned for 70 working days. But our time estimation failed and we shot it for 90 days. The main reason for this is the night shoot. We took it for granted that roads would be free from 12 mid night till early morning. But in reality, there is nightlife in Hyderabad. We got empty roads between 2 am to 3 am only. We could only shot for an hour a day for night shoot.

Post production: Post production took around two and half months.

I heard that this film's budget is around 3 crores. Why did it cost so much?
I think you should be asking this question to the producer. Here are the reasons I think. This film involves famous artists and technicians like Jagapati Babu, Charmy and MM Keeravani. It costs a bit more in terms of remunerations. I am a kind of perfectionist. I give too much importance to even minute details. Even if an extra artist is not good in the background I go for another take. Hence the number of takes for each shot was more. As I mentioned earlier we took more number of working days to shoot the film.

What is the feedback you got about Anukokunda Oka Roju on the release day?
The industrywalas complained about the climax. The ordinary people are appreciating climax. On a whole, there is positive buzz and no negative remarks.

What did you learn after making Anukokunda Oka Roju?
I am happy with the creative side of the film. But I learnt a couple of things from production aspect.

1. Should have better understanding about how much time it would take to shoot at particular live location.
2. Should not be too perfect regarding the ambience.

How did the dubbing go for this film?
Sunitha completed her dubbing work in just 4 days. That was an amazing feat. We wanted the voices in this film to be different from other films and at the same time authentic. We scouted for few real software engineers to do dubbing of background voices in few scenes. Hence it took more time, effort and money. It would cost us less if we use regular dubbing artists as they are seasoned. We avoided them, as they sound routine.

What is the total exposure of this film and what is the length of director's cut and final version?
The total exposure we used for this film was 1.15 lakh feet. The director's cut consisted of 15,000 feet. The final version of the film has 13,000 feet.

Are there any deleted scenes in this film?
We cannot delete any scene in this film because each scene is linked to the story. However, we trimmed few scenes. Few of these scenes are -

1. Trimmed the car chase in the second half by 2 minutes
2. A bit of play that occurred before handing the envelope to the oldman.
3. A few beautiful montage shots when Charmy gets lonely when her parents go to Tirupati.

Took a long gap between Aithe and Anukokunda Oka Roju? What did you do in this gap?
I was supposed to do a couple of films, which were shelved. Here are the details of these films -

1. KLN Raju - Tarun film: I developed a script for a film to be produced by KLN Raju. I considered Tarun as hero. I narrated the story to Tarun and he has become unavailable to me later. I probably scared him off with the story line. That film is about 'out of body experience'. It is the extreme level of Yoga where you attain special powers where you communicate with other people through telepathy. The earthquake incident in Gujarat inspired me. It is about a girl who trapped in debris of earthquake who is found after 7-8 days. The story is about how that girl used out of body experiences to communicate with a common boy. This story idea is one of my bests. Though it deals with the concept of out of body experience, it has pleasant feel to it with smooth narration. Finally, that project was shelved.

2. Pratyusha creations with Uday Kiran as hero: This film is a good love story with military backdrop. Everything shown in this film has the background of military (even houses, hospitals etc). We started the film with Uday Kiran as hero. When the producers contacted Indian Military for shooting permission they asked huge sum (runs into crores of rupees) as security deposit. They would refund the entire amount after shooting is completed. But the producer cannot block so much of liquid cash by keeping it as deposit. Hence that film was shelved.

3. Anukokunda Oka Roju: Then I decided that I should not make films with established heroes as it would have some problems associated with it. I started a heroine-oriented film called 'Anukokunda Oka Roju'. Pratyusha banner was supposed to produce this film. But they felt that it would be unsafe to make their debut in Telugu films with Thriller. When they backed out, I approached Gunnam Gangaraju and narrated him the script. He came forward to make a film without making any changes to the story. Just Yellow is like my home turf. That is how Anukokunda Oka Roju happened.

Tell us about your 3rd film?
I have prepared the story. It is going to be a love story. Other details of cast and crew are awaited.

Which fields do you think Indian film industry are lacking in compared to Hollywood and European films?
There are 2 departments we are lacking in. One is Sound (mixing, effects and background music) and the other one is make-up. The film Black is of Hollywood standard even in sound. We need to improve a lot in make-up department. Black is the best film I have seen in recent times.

I heard you got married recently. Tell us about it?
I got married on 19th May of this year. It was an arranged marriage. My wife does not like my kinds of films. She is a lover of mass flicks.

Other Post Mortems:
Manmadhuru by Vijaya Bhaskar
Santosham by Dasarath
Jayam by Teja.

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