'Sahasam is an action adventure'
Chandrasekhar Yeleti has carved a name for himself with films such as Aithe, Anukokonda Oka Roju besides making commercial entertainers like Okkudunnadu and Prayanam. One can expect something different from this dynamic director. His next film Sahasam is releasing on July 12.
In this exclusive interview to rediff.com, he dwells on what Sahasam is all about.
Why did it take you so long after Prayanam, which released in 2009, to make Sahasam?
The gap was not intentional. It can never be intentional. We worked on a story for one-and-a-half years and somehow it did not take off. Then we got into writing Sahasam. That’s how the gap happened.
Was Sahasam triggered by a newspaper report like your film Aithe?
I regularly read India Today, Outlook and The Week. In one such magazine, I read that when Partition happened, people moved but were still fighting court cases for their properties. That triggered the idea for Sahasam.
Image: Gopichand in Sahasam
'The biggest challenge was to convert the story into a film'
It was reported that the story is about an ATM guard who wants to become rich, and that the film is set in two time periods. Can you talk more about this?
The flashback happens in the time of Partition. One should see the film to know more.
How did you conceptualise the film?
The idea and the story came in 45 minutes. I needed to expand it to two hours 15 minutes. That was the biggest challenge.
You start getting deeper into characters and the background. Then the new characters come and lead the story forward. Sometimes we go off track, then dump that and come back on track. It’s a laborious process.
Did you write it alone or did somebody help you?
I had a team of script writers – Prashanth, Sumalatha, Radhakrishna (who has written dialogues) and Radhika (from Mumbai). Sandeep Gunnam also joined us for a few days. It was a young team.
Image: Gopichand in Sahasam. Inset: Director Chandrasekhar Yeleti
'Action director Selva has done a great job in the film'
The treasure hunt in the film is said to be a first of its kind....
Treasure hunt films are many but they are not seen in recent times. This film is more of the hero’s personal story. He goes after his own treasures. I moulded it like a treasure hunt but the writing was tough.
It is more of an action adventure. I had to remember that it is a Gopichand film and he has a target audience who like him as an action hero. So I can’t be like myself, as I was in Aithe or Anukokonda Oka Roju. The hero’s image conditioned the film.
Did you shoot in Ladakh to recreate the terrain of Pakistan?
We did so to recreate the Peshawar-Afghanistan border.
How difficult was it to shoot the action sequences in Ladakh with its low oxygen levels? Men and horses would have found it tough...
We shot in Ladakh for a month and it was tough. We took two-three days to adjust. It was cold and there was lack of oxygen. Picturising the scene is easy but for the stuntmen and the horses, it is not.
The action director Selva did a great job. After every shot, the horses would be given a rest for 45 minutes to one hour. We did some daring shots too.
I was very tense about a jeep toppling shot but Selva told me not to worry. Luckily it went off smoothly. Generally I take care and ensure there are no risky stunts.
Image: Taapsee Pannu and Gopichand in Sahasam
'Gopichand hasn't changed in five years since Okkadunnadu'
Is Sahasam a journey film?
The hero goes from India to Pakistan. It’s a journey to his treasure, so one can call it a journey film.
How did you think of Gopichand to play the lead? He worked with you in Okkadunnadu .
When the producer and I decided on Gopichand as the hero, I had this idea of Sahasam, which I narrated and he liked it. So we went ahead.
In the five years since Okkadunnadu, there is not much change in him although his market has grown.
How did you cast Taapsee in the film?
When we thought of this project, we had Taapsee in mind. She is a good actress. I liked the pairing of Gopichand and Taapsee in Mogudu.
Image: Gopichand in Sahasam
'Sahasam will be interesting and full of thrills'
How did you decide on Shakti Kapoor to play the antagonist?
I had two people in mind-- Shakti Kapoor and Lucky Ali. I needed someone who looks like someone from north India.
Lucky Ali was approached but a meeting didn’t happen. I thought Shakti Kapoor would suit with a beard. We performed a look test and he suited the role.
Does Sahasam offer anything different?
Sahasam will be interesting and full of thrills... till the last minute. The audience will enjoy it.
Does the film have a lot of computer graphics?
Yes, it does. There are a lot of computer graphics in the last half an hour. All the technicians have worked hard for it.
The director stands in the forefront but 50 per cent of the work on the film is done by the technicians.
Have you thought about your next project?
I am writing two-three scripts. I don’t know which one will take off. I hope to go quickly on the sets.
Image: Gopichand in a scene from Sahasam