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'I my proud of having Amala Akkineni in my film'

Last updated on: September 13, 2012 10:40 IST

'I my proud of having Amala Akkineni in my film'

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Radhika Rajamani in Hyderabad

The ambience is perfect--open grounds dotted with a few structures, big trees and a cool breeze. It's 8 am, the right time for an interview, according to Sekhar Kammula who prefers to do the promotion of his film, Life Is Beautiful, on the sets of the film.

"It's the last open place in Padma Rao Nagar, belonging to the Department of Posts," says the director, who stumbled upon the place where Thota Tharrani erected the set for Sekhar to shoot a major part of his latest film Life Is Beautiful

Sekhar Kammula talks about Life Is Beautiful slated for release on Friday, September 14

You have said Life Is Beautiful is Happy Days set in a colony. Is it an extension of your earlier film Happy Days?

I can't call it an extension of Happy Days. It's a new story. Since the film has youngsters, it has the flavour of Happy Days.

There's family and life in the story and gully cricket, neighbourhood, romance, internet parlours, festivals-- everything life can offer. It's about neighbourhood and youngsters in a neighbourhood.


Image: A scene from Life is Beautiful. Inset: Sekhar Kammula


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'Life is Beautiful is about middle class life'

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What made you want to do this film?

When an idea comes, you get kicked about it. What triggers the idea one can never say. Post Leader, I was looking to do something innocent and lively.

There used to be so much life in the neighbourhood till about 10 years ago. Now everyone is losing touch. Families themselves are getting disconnected in the rat race.

I want to show how beautiful it could be--trees, tree house, jhoolas, collective living. I thought let me add some drama to this. In all this running around, we are ignoring life today. Life itself is a big thing. Ignoring that doesn't make sense.

I'm calling it mana cinema (our cinema). It's all about middle class life. It's about celebrating life, simple living, pleasures, collective living.

You had mentioned earlier you wanted to do the film before you lose your innocence...

Yes, I wanted to write this tale before I lose my innocence. It's not a period film. It is contemporary. It's the kind of life I have seen.

This film is rooted in middle class ethos and values. Will audiences relate to it?

Yes. There are three guys from an absolutely middle class family. It's my kind of vision--dogs, kids, rain, early mornings, sunshine, fights, struggles--all about life.


Image: A scene from Life is Beautiful

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'Amala is one of the best things to happen to the film'

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Again, like with Happy Days and Leader you have chosen new actors. Is it because you want to impart freshness to the film?

Absolutely. I want a young, new look.

Is it taxing to work with newcomers?

It's taxing and exciting for the director and his team. One has to nurture them and be a part of their lives, moods and anxiety.

One has to train and teach. It's a process. When one sees the result, one doesn't feel the effort.

How have the youngsters performed?

I'm very happy. You will see the characters and not the actors.

Why did you cast Amala Akkineni in the film? She faces the camera after almost two decades.

It's fate. Amala is one of the best things to happen to the film.

She is proud of doing the film and I'm proud of having her in it. The role called for her. My thanks to Nagarjuna and her.

Why it happened I can't say. I would say it's destiny, God's grace.


Image: A scene from Life is Beautiful


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'Life Is Beautiful is a difficult film to make'

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What was it like directing Amala?

It was a pleasure and easy to do. She has fantastic discipline. She doesn't have ego hassles and she gelled with the youngsters.

She was happy and calm. She also dubbed and was particular about getting the accent right. She is thorough as an actress.

Shriya Saran and Anjala Jhaveri are also in the film. Do they have significant roles?

Everybody has a significant part to advance the story. I have three decades of superstars in Amala, Anjala and Shriya.

Shriya has worked with every big star and is still working. Amala and Anjala also worked with all the superstars in their time. This casting happened seamlessly.

Why did you decide to produce this film under your home banner?

It's difficult to convince others if you are shooting anything with newcomers over 140 days.

Life Is Beautiful is a difficult film to make. It's a slice of life and difficult to shoot.

There are six songs and each is a montage. It's easier to shoot songs with actors, dancers and choreographers than montages.


Image: A scene from Life is Beautiful


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'This film has a larger canvas than my earlier film Happy Days'

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You have Dil Raju Sai Korrapati distributing this film. It's releasing in the US with the largest number of prints. Are you happy about this?

Yes, like all my films, buyers believed in this film also. My stature and audience has grown manifold in the US and I think it's also because of the story. NRIs miss this kind of life. It makes them think of when they were young.

It's the best thing that can happen to the film. The content makes it instantly relatable to the NRIs. Most of them are middle class engineers who went and settled down there.

So, Life Is Beautiful is a slice of nostalgia?

Yes, colony nostalgia.

The film has been in the making for almost two years. Leader released in February 2010. Why the delay?

This film has a larger canvas than Happy Days. It has been shot beautifully. There will be a significant quality shift compared to other films.


Image: A scene from Life is Beautiful


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'Maybe I'll do something more romantic for my next film'

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Thota Tharrani has created the set for you...

We worked in Leader. So it was a natural thing to work again. He transformed this jungle but didn't disturb the trees. The set cost over a crore and a half.

People still seem to use this place...

Yes, they come here to walk. Some pluck flowers.

What happens to the set now that the film is over?

I've been paying rent to the government for this place. We have to see what to do.

You have created your own brand of cinema. What do you want to do next?

It's been to my taste. I don't know what and when I'll do something. Maybe I'll do something more romantic next.


Image: The set of Life is Beautiful


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