Director Sukumar is known for coming up with unconventional films. There is also a saying in the Industry that his films are quite tough to understand. What does Sukumar have to say to this? We met the talented director for an exclusive interview and he spoke at length about his upcoming movie ‘1 – Nenokkadine’. Sukumar also revealed the reason for choosing unconventional story lines. What about films with Pawan Kalyan and NTR? Well, Sukumar answered those questions too, so check out this interview and see what he had to say.
Q. This is Mahesh Babu’s most expensive film. What gave you the confidence to pump in so much money?
A. I am very lucky to work with 14 Reels Entertainment. Without them, this movie would not have come out in this way. I do not know their business plan, but they never questioned me in monetary matters. It is easy to say “story ee budget demand chestundhi”. But not all producers invest so much, even if the story demands it. We shot big action sequences in London and closed off a main bridge. They gave me the confidence to go ahead with this film.
Q. You are exploring the uncommon thriller genre with such a huge budget. Is it not a big risk?
A. Even though the film belongs to the thriller genre, there is a nice sentimental thread woven into the film. Every scene will have good emotions and viewers will connect strongly. It is quite tough to merge sentiment and thriller genres, but it has happened for this movie. This will be a commercial mass entertainer that will appeal to Telugu people.
Q. A director may have great ideas when conceiving a project, but things turn out differently during the execution stage. How did ‘1’ turn out?
A. Normally, such things happen due to resource limitation while filming. But I did not face any such problems for this movie as the producers never hampered my work.I was nervous about the budget at times, but the producers always used to smile and encourage me.
Q. Mahesh Babu has a certain image among movie lovers. What kind of a film can his fans expect ?
A. There are no separate punch dialogues etc for this movie. But there are good emotional dialogues. Mahesh Babu wanted me to execute the story like I conceived, without artificially incorporating punch dialogues and other elements. “Chesedhi edho 100% cheyyali. Meeru ela anukunnaro alaa cheyandi”, is what he used to say.
Q. Your films have unconventional story lines. Do you detest routine commercial cinema?
A. No. I do want to make a full fledged commercial comedy and entertain viewers. But my thought process is different. “100% comedy film cheddam anukuni, track maaripoyina sandarbhaalu unnay”. Perhaps, I have the strength and the thought process to effectively complete a unique story line but not a regular film.
Q. There is a common notion that viewers in B and C centers find it tough to understand your films. Will things be different for ‘1’?
A. I do not intentionally make ‘intelligent’ films. I make films with the intention of catering to everyone, but unfortunately things turn out differently. With ‘1’, I took a different approach. It is a very big budget movie, so I must ensure that everyone understands the movie.
Q. A lot of people have questioned your decision to cast Kriti Sanon…
A. We needed bulk dates for the long UK schedule. Our leading actresses were not able to allot bulk dates, so we decided to look for a new face. After going through lots of profiles, we finally zeroed in on Kriti. She is a very good student, with 89% in Engineering. That also worked in her favour. Mahesh Babu is an actor with a phenomenal memory and he gets a grip on dialogues very fast. We needed an equally capable person to complement Mahesh. Kriti has done a good job.
Q. A number of international technicians worked on the action sequences. How was the working experience?
A. They are very professional and it was a very nice experience. They discuss a scene and rehearse it a number of times before going for a take. Most of the discussion happens across the table. Once we tell them what is required, they do all the work and execute it flawlessly. In fact, working with them made our life easier.
Q. Were you nervous about casting Gautham in the film?
A. I was nervous. I was very apprehensive as I did not know whether Gautham could pull it off. Gautham is a star kid and he did not have any formal training. But Gautham surprised us, with his enthusiasm and talent. He was very inquisitive and my work became easy.
Q. You seem to prefer Devi Sri Prasad for your projects. Any specific reason?
A. Devi Sri Prasad is one guy who understands me very well and our wavelengths match. I do not have very good music sense. When I narrate the scenes and the theme of the film, he instantly understands what is required and gives me excellent music. Devi makes my life easy and he gives me the best possible music.
Q. What kind of a film will you make with Jr NTR?
A. I have always wanted to make a romantic entertainer with Jr NTR and I am working towards that. However, a lot of work needs to be done and it can change. I will reveal more details about this project at a later date.
Q. What about a film with Pawan Kalyan? Fans have been waiting for this combo..
A. (Smiles). Pawan Kalyan is a very busy star. So far, nothing has ever been discussed about this project. I would surely love to work with him, but I don’t know when that will happen.
Q. Who is your favourite director among your contemporaries?
A. (Thinks) It would have to be Rajamouli. He is at a different level now and the effort he puts into his films is just amazing. I was thrilled when I saw ‘Eega’.
Q. What would you like to tell viewers about 1?
A. Do not miss the beginning. I can guarantee that every scene will keep you engaged. I am confident that the film will be a unique and different experience for viewers.
With that, we wrapped up our conversation with Sukumar and wished him the very best for ‘1 – Nenokkadine’.
Interviewed by Mahesh S Koneru