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Satya returns, behind the camera
Patcy N | July 20, 2006 14:15 IST
He rode high on the success of Satya. But Chekravarthy, the lead actor in what has now become a classic, could barely cash in on his success.
Instead of a successful Bollywood career, he chose Telugu cinema. Vaastu Shastra, a comeback six years after Satya, didn't do well. Now, after another two-year break, he is back with a full-length directorial debut, Darwaza Bandh Rakho.
Why directing? "Have you ever asked a graduate why he wants a post-graduate degree? For me, direction is like upgrading myself. You don't need any special qualification. I think a director should have common sense more then general knowledge. It is true that you need to understand the craft, but what makes you think an actor doesn't? People think actors are fools, but they are not."
Chekravarthy doesn't remember when the idea of turning director came to him. All he knows is he always wanted to be part of the filmmaking process. Even while acting though, he says direction was always on the cards. He got lucky when Ram Gopal Varma began discussing the germ of an idea on the sets of Vaastu Shastra. Chekravarthy though the idea was interesting, began working on it, and Darwaza Bandh Rakho was born. Considering he had worked with Varma for years (handling a lot of Factory productions in the Telugu industry), the director asked Chekravarthy to shoot the movie and show him the final product.
When asked how the character of Bhiku Mhatre (Manoj Bajpai) managed to hog the limelight in Satya, Chekravarthy says, "You tell me. If you say Mhatre hogged the limelight, what happened to him after that? What is he doing now? At least I shifted to Telugu cinema."
Even before the release of Satya, Chekravarthy had five films from the South. Despite being offered roles in Bollywood, he had to turn them down and honour prior commitments. He also felt the cinema down South was more exciting, so shifting to Mumbai didn't seem like a good idea. 20th Century Fox also offered him a film, but things didn't work out.
Speaking about his stint as a producer, he says, "I have produced two Telugu movies, Durga and one that had no title. People came to see the latter just to find out what it was about. You could call it a publicity stunt. Nobody had done anything like it before. And why can't a film do well purely on gimmicks?"
It sounds similar to Ram Gopal Varma's Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega, doesn't it? Chekravarthy retorts, "Love Ke Liye� was remade in Telugu as Money. It was my first film as a hero. And, strangely, we didn't have much money to make it. I won't make the same mistake again. Darwaza� is the first of its kind. It is extremely realistic and not at all slapstick."
Controlling 35 actors was obviously far from easy. "It was like an unruly classroom," says Chekravarthy. "There were so many scenes that needed all 35 characters in one frame. It was chaos." So, what does he prefer � acting or directing? He picks the latter, saying an actor has his limitations. He likes both jobs though.
Was working with Ram Gopal Varma difficult? No. Chekravarthy had complete freedom. He shrugs aside rumours that Varma edits all Factory products. "He simply listens to the narration and then looks at the final product. If things are different, he asks for a change in scenes or edits it. I also feel that, as a new director, there are chances of one getting carried away and falling in love with all scenes. When Ram Gopal Varma steps in and cuts even one scene, you may not like it, but it will make a difference. Secondly, don't you think his understanding of cinema is better than that of a first-time director any day? Directors who have had complaints about him are not doing well. If they were so talented, why didn't they make it big?"
For now, Darwaza� is in the post-production stage. Its director intends to see how it does before taking on any acting or directing project. He is working on the script of his next movie called Creature.
Chekravarthy is very clear that he won't blame Varma even if his movie fails. "If there is anything good in my film, I have learnt it from him. If there is anything bad, it is my creativity that is at fault."