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From ad films to Mitrudu

May 7, 2009 16:58 IST

From ad films to Mitrudu

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Mahadev got to work with Balakrishna and National award-winning actress Priya Mani in his very first film Mitrudu released last week.

He honed his directorial skills when he worked with Rajamouli and Chandra Siddhartha. Mahadev seems to have a grip over writing too. He is associated with Vijayendra Prasad, Rajamouli's father who has written scripts for numerous films.

He tells Radhika Rajamani about his Mitrudu experience and how films happened. Excerpts:

You chose a script written by Vijayendra Prasad garu for your debut film. How did you get to direct Mitrudu?

I used to work as Vijayendra Prasad garu's story assistant when I was working as a co-director with Rajamouli. We shared an excellent rapport and would bounce story ideas off each other. We contributed our inputs to Rajamouli garu. It was a learning process for me.

When I was trying to direct films on my own, I would to go to heroes with his stories. The elements required for a commercial movie are there in Vijayendra Prasad garu's line formation. I used to convert those into my style and keep them ready.

Producer Sivalanka Krishna Prasad garu who has made many films with Balakrishna got in touch with me as he wanted to give a break to a new director. He asked me whether I could narrate a story to Balakrishna as he had his dates.

I was excited and immediately told Vijayendra Prasad garu. We didn't have a story immediately. We had to prepare a script for him. I had a few basic conditions in mind before working on the line. I told Sir that Balakrishna had been working only on certain kinds of films. We had to break that first.

Secondly, in commercial cinema even if there is entertainment and action, the audience have to be touched gently; sometimes they may just wipe a tear or two without the other person watching it.

In his three-decade long career, Balakrishna would have done so many characters and delivered so many blockbusters. So, we don't say that we have portrayed him in a new light. We have changed the way the story is told and gave it a new look. That is what we have attempted.


Image: A scene from Mitrudu

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'I had a strange experience with Balakrishna'

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How was the experience with Balakrishna when you narrated the story?

I had a strange experience with Balakrishna. When I met him, he asked me, 'how long will you take to tell the story? Will you be able to narrate it fast?

I told him, 'I will narrate in half an hour.' I took only 23 minutes. I said, 'this is my story, and I would like to do it like this and I believe I can do it.' He thought it over for three minutes and told me that he would call back.

When he called me, the first thing he asked was, 'when do we start our shoot? I don't know what he saw in me during those 23 minutes when I was narrating the story.

Did you decide to have Priyamani because she had acted in Rajamouli's Yamadonga?

No. But I felt that Priya Mani would justify the role better, since she has the ability to show subtle expressions.


Image: A scene from Mitrudu

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'I know I did what I set out to do'

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Directing Balakrishna and Priyamani was...

A festival! They don't waste even a single minute. Time is everything in movie making. Balakrishna garu is known for his discipline. If he gives time, he sticks to it.

Both Balakrishna and Priya Mani used to sit next to me, so they knew what was happening on the sets. Some people get into the mood within five minutes before the clap. But these two were in the mood for the shots all the time. And that's what I liked about them.

Could you tell us your experience as a first time director?

I know I did what I set out to do.


Image: A scene from Mitrudu

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'I was not interested in films at all'

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How did you get attracted to films and what made you join the industry?

I was not into films till mid 2002. I was not interested in films at all. When I was working in an ad agency in the printing department, I got an opportunity to do an ad film. That was how I got interested in the film format.

When I went to a small director to ask for his advice, he said I should get a grip over one department. It could either be story, camera, anything. Then I asked him which one he would advise me to get into. He said editing. I went to Bombay and joined Mehboob as assistant editor to learn editing from him.

After the editing stint, what did you do?

I first joined Chandra Siddhartha as an assistant. Then I got to know Rajamouli garu and I joined him towards the end of Simhadri.

How long did you work with Rajamouli?

I did Sye and Chhatrapati (as assistant) and also worked with Vijayendra Prasad in the story department for Vikramarkudu and Yamadonga.


Image: A scene from Mitrudu

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'Why should I script my own films when I have such a great brain like Vijayendra Prasad garu's?'

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What did you learn from Rajamouli?

It's difficult to say. One learned the qualities needed for a director. You and I both know English but what we both write using the language is the difference. We learned the alphabet and grammar, but our thoughts make the difference. If you don't know the ABCD of filmmaking, no director will take you as an assistant.

Do you want to script your own films?

Why should I when I have such a great brain like Vijayendra Prasad garu's?

As a director what does cinema mean to you?

Cinema is a medium to show your passion and feelings. It is also a pure money making mechanism which fetches fame. As the adage goes, there's no business like show business.


Image: A scene from Mitrudu

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