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Neelakantha : I made Virodhi from my heart

Last updated on: June 27, 2011 11:08 IST

Neelakantha : I made Virodhi from my heart

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Radhika Rajamani in Hyderabad

Neelakantha returns to the marquee after three years with Telugu film Virodhi. Though this National Award winning auteur (who won the best screenplay award for Show some years back) worked on different ideas/scripts after Mr Medhavi (his last film starring Raja and Genelia in 2008), Virodhi is ready for release only now. The film stars Srikkanth, Kamalinee Mukherjee, Ajay, Kamal Kamaraju, and Ramya, and is set against a Naxal backdrop.

Neelakantha takes a break from DTS mixing on a Sunday morning to talk about Virodhi, which will release on July 1.

Was setting Virodhi against a Naxal backdrop a conscious decision?

It was a conscious decision. A backdrop is necessary for a story and I chose the Naxal backdrop. The film has nothing to do with Naxalism. It is to do with individuals and inter-personal relations and leadership qualities. Virodhi is a concept; I'm not defining someone like Virodhi. It's a state of mind. Nobody is branded in this film.

The idea was vague in my mind and I expanded it into a human drama. I would call the film a socio-political thriller as socio-political issues are part of the story.

Does the Naxal backdrop make the story contemporary?

I am not looking at the issue; I am looking at the individual. Human emotion is contemporary, so the film is contemporary. Even after years, human drama remains the same.

Image: A scene from Virodhi. Inset: Director Neelakantha

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'I get an idea of the character as the notion develops'

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Generally your protagonists are smart and intelligent and indulge in mind games...

I beg to differ. They are human and more sensitive except the lead character in Mr Medhavi. The intensity of the person comes through in Virodhi. He is intelligent, sensitive, loves society and values life.

Did you do any research for the film?

I took information from the public domain -- newspapers, TV, magazines etc. To that information, I added imagination.

How did you zero in on Srikkanth to play the main lead?

At the scripting stage itself, I get an idea of the character as the notion develops. I thought Srikkanth would be the right choice and later it got crystallised.I narrated the script to him and he loved it. He recommended it to his brother Anil Meka who heard and liked the script and decided to produce it as the first movie of his production house.


Image: A scene from Virodhi

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'Srikkanth brought the right intensity to the character'

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How has Srikkanth acted in the film?

The character has to be present subtly. There's no histrionics involved. It was amazing to see the subtlety and intensity Srikkanth brought to the character. The agony, too, was so well portrayed by him.

You chose Kamalinee Mukherjee opposite Srikkanth...

She has the right attitude and maturity to play the character.

Are the negative characters played by Ajay and Kamal Kamaraju?

There is no negative character. That is a perception that develops. They are all fellow travellers. Ajay had the right body language to play the character.

I was thinking of whom to cast for the role played by Kamal Kamaraju. After I saw Kamal in Confessions of a Filmmaker I felt he would suit the role and bring it off. Sivaji Raja also has a dramatic role. Ramya, who acted in 1940 lo Oka Gramam, is also in the film.

I have introduced Kiran Varanasi -- a music director actually but I got him to act -- Rupali (from Mumbai), Gopi (a stage artise) and Sivaji Raja's son.  All the cast have given their 100 per cent. They look real and I'm very happy. It's been wonderful working with them.


Image: A scene from Virodhi

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'One needs the confidence to do an offbeat commercial film like Virodhi'

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You have a new producer in Anil Meka. How did that work out?

The film was shot in 45 days. There was perfect planning. The way he organised everything, chalked out and supported the film, the release and publicity he's doing, speaks of his capacity. One needs the confidence to do an offbeat commercial film like Virodhi,  and he is bold enough to do so.

Did you shoot in forest areas?

We shot in hilly terrain and a mining area. The mining area was dusty, while the hilly regions were hot. The equipment had to be taken up the hill and the crew worked very hard. The team bonded well and we enjoyed the work.

The director of photography is H M Ramachandra, a National Award winner for the Kannada film Dweepa. How did you rope him in?

We got acquainted when we got the national awards at the same time, he for Dweepa and I for Show. We were also on the National Awards jury in 2010. We have been saying for some time that we should make a film together. I was waiting for the right film.

Ramchandra gave a raw look, added depth and dimension to the film. I thought of a vision and he brought it out.


Image: A scene from Virodhi

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'I hope the film will touch the audience's hearts'

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Tell us about the music of R P Patnaik.

I love his style of music. It's natural with a folk element. The background score he has given is the backbone of the film. We are on the same wavelength. I felt he was the right person to do this film.

I want to add that the styling (the look of the characters) and costumes are done by Rama in consultation with me. She has done a good job.

Are you trying to convey anything through this film?

I don't want to convey anything. I made a film from my heart and hope it will touch the audience's hearts.


Image: A scene from Virodhi

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