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'I knew Dookudu would be a blockbuster'

Last updated on: October 4, 2011 15:49 IST

'I knew Dookudu would be a blockbuster'

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Radhika Rajamani in Hyderabad
Dookudu starring Mahesh Babu, Samantha, Sonu Sood, Brahmanandam, M S Narayana has taken Telugu cinema by storm and is smashing records; it will probably emerge as one of the biggest blockbusters of Telugu cinema. It has opened so fantastically even in the United States, that it was reported in the Los Angeles Times. 

Dookudu augurs well for the Telugu industry where in recent times, failures have been aplenty. It is thus seen as a beacon of hope for the revival of the film industry and fraternity. 

Basking in the success of the film, the director, Seenu Vaitla, happily relives moments in the making of Dookudu in this exclusive interview.

Dookudu has been declared a huge hit. What is your reaction? 

I definitely knew it would be a blockbuster, but I didn't expect it to garner all-time revenue like this. It is setting records in all centres. I am very happy.

You released it with record prints all over other cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai etc.

The film was released in 1600 screens. It was not our original intention. The exhibitors started showing interest as they saw potential in the film, so then we increased the prints.

The Los Angeles Times carried a report saying it is one of the biggest hits in the weekend in the US...

Dookudu has got unbelievable collections in two days in the US. It's a record. It is in the top two Indian films there.

Image: Seenu Vaitla directs Mahesh Babu

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'Similarities between Dookudu and Goodbye Lenin is just a coincidence'

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What do you think contributed to this? 

The combination of Mahesh Babu and myself. We worked together for the first time. And also perhaps, the hype around the film.

Mahesh Babu's last film, Mahesh Khaleja, didn't do as well as expected. Did you feel the pressure to give him a hit? 

Yes, I took special interest in the film. I have hits and super-hits, but I wanted an all-time hit. I wanted to make it a blockbuster. In fact, I had one story which was developed to about 80 per cent, but then I didn't see so much potential in it so I gave that up and chose the idea of Dookudu.

Some reviews mentioned that Dookudu is inspired by Goodbye Lenin and adapted indigenously. How did you work on this adaptation? 

I saw Goodbye Lenin when the scripting of Dookudu was 50 per cent complete. It was a coincidence. I had the idea of showing Mahesh in a new way as a young MLA. I also had the idea of the father. Then, Gopi Mohan came in, and we worked on the script for seven months. It's a multi-layered film and writing the screenplay for it was tough. The idea of how lies are told and you get people to believe them was already shown in my earlier film Ready.

You chose the father-son relationship. How did you conceptualise it?

I wanted to show the emotion between the two. I was inspired by small things -- even the astronaut character from Goodbye Lenin.

How did you want to portray Mahesh in the film?

I knew Mahesh's potential as an actor. He's a director's actor. I wanted to show him in a new way, with comedy, sentiment, and where he uses voice modulation. I wanted to use all the angles and it worked out well.

Image: A scene from Dookudu

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'The love track between Samantha and Mahesh worked out well'

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What was it like directing Mahesh?

It was very easy directing him. It felt like directing a younger brother. It was very comfortable. He's a very sincere actor. In the beginning, I thought he seemed sophisticated but he was able to grasp whatever I said and performed well. 

How did you decide to cast Samantha?

After the scripting was over, I felt Samantha would suit the character well. The youth liked her in Ye Maaya Chesaave. The love track between her and Mahesh worked out well. 

Brahmanandam is more or less a staple in your films. What do you see in him that you cast him frequently? 

I use Brahmanandam in a new way.  In my films the comedy is in the story itself; the situations have the strength. I also gel well with him. In this context I must also mention M S Narayana who is also a fantastic comedian and I wanted to give him a good character to play. I have got a mind-blowing response to his characterisation also.

Why did you choose to shoot in Turkey? 

I had heard of Istanbul. The producers told me about it. No Telugu film had been shot there. It has a character of its own. It was difficult to shoot in Istanbul; there were 60 lakh cars in the city and enormous traffic jams. Many times we used to get out of our cars and get into trams to return to the hotel. The locales are good and it's a beautiful place.

Image: A scene from Dookudu

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'I've never got such a reponse to any of my films before'

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Why were there two directors of photography-- Prasad Murella and then K V Guhan?

I had made family dramas with Prasad before but in Dookudu, the demand increased from my side and we couldn't get in sync with each other. I liked the photography in Athadu (Mahesh's film directed by Trivikram Srinivas) done by Guhan.  We gelled and he has done a fantastic job. The film has one of the best DI (Digital Intermediate) works and Guhan has command over it and in fact elevated it.

Why did you decide to have Sonu Sood to play the negative character?

He is a good actor. Sonu Sood has improved a lot. He is good in negative characters and looks lovable too.

What is the best response you have received?

I have not got response like this before in my life. The industry people have appreciated it. This blockbuster has come at the right time. Venkatesh, Nagarjuna and many others telephoned me. Ram Gopal Varma saw the film in Mumbai and sent me an SMS saying 'It's just super. Mahesh is fantastic. Each and every scene is mind-blowing.' He sent another one saying (trade analyst) Taran Adarsh mentioned 'Dookudu collected in 45 screens in the US in one day more than Mere Brother Ki Dulhan did in 85 screens in four days.' The LA Times article mentioned the film. 

Image: A scene from Dookudu

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'I want to do a blockbuster in Hindi, I hope to do that with Dookudu'

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Now that Dookudu is such a huge hit, do you feel a sense of pressure and responsibility?

Yes, I feel more responsible. I am tense as I have to reach those levels of expectation.

Your films like Dhee, Ready, Om Namo Venkatesa etc are known for the element of comedy. Would you want to try any other genre?

My themes are serious but told in an entertaining way. This style has given me the position I have.  Whatever I do, I should say it in an entertaining way. The audience wants certain things from me and I should meet that expectation.

Have you started working on your next project?

Right now, I am enjoying the success of this film. I am committed to do a film with NTR Jr. I will announce it in two or three weeks' time. There are many offers to remake Dookudu in Hindi already. I will wait and see about that.

You have directed all the big stars. Do you have any more ambitions as a filmmaker?

I want to do a blockbuster in Hindi. I hope to do that with Dookudu. 

Image: A scene from Dookudu

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