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Coming up with Golconda High School

Last updated on: January 18, 2011 10:09 IST

Coming up with Golconda High School

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Radhika Rajamani in Hyderabad

National Award-winning director Mohankrishna Indraganti is back with Golconda High School, a film based on the book The Men Within by Harimohan Paruvu.

The initial response to the Telugu film has been quite good. Over to Mohankrishna.

Were you excited to take up directing a film based on a book?

I have always enjoyed adapting from literature whether it's a classic in Telugu or any other language and my work reflects this. So I did not take much time to decide to do The Men Within. It is a very simple and inspiring story about how to create worthy individuals out of our children who are crushed under the burden of mindless and unhealthy competition. I am an avid fan of cricket, whatever be the format. And making a sports film is always a huge creative challenge. So I took it up.

How were you able to blend human emotions, sport, management skills and yet weave a message into the screenplay?

In adaptation, the focus is always on choosing those portions of the book that are the most dramatic and the most 'adaptible' to visual language. Finding visual equivalents to the internal conflicts of the characters is another challenge. Once that is done, writing a screenplay becomes a lot easier. All the emotions and the message you have mentioned had to be dramatised and woven into the narrative of the film instead of making them speech pieces. The 'message' had to come across in the form of a strong dramatic element which helped the climax of the film.


Image: A scene from Golconda High School. Inset: Director Mohankrishna Indraganti

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'The kids were selected from different backgrounds'

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What was Harimohan's reaction to the film?

He absolutely loved it. Although he calls the film my baby, I think it's his passion that I was trying to dramatise and I think I have succeeded to quite a large extent. Film and literature are two different languages. They cannot always be translated totally into each other but an adaptation from literature into cinema should be a strong echo of the spirit of the book.

Did you take the players from Jaysimha's Academy? How challenging was it to extract such performances from them?

The kids were selected from different backgrounds. Some were selected from cricket academies, some from auditions and some accidently. But they were all made to go through rehearsals in acting as well as cricket training under the guidance of M R Baig, former BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) coach and Hari Mohan Paruvu. I am extremely proud with the way all the boys performed. 

How were the main protagonists like Sumanth and Swathi chosen?

Sumanth, because of his looks, build, his command over Telugu and his grace as a cricketer. Even he participated in the reading sessions and cricket sessions. It was wonderful working with him.

Swathi, because the character in the novel, Anjali is a fresh grad from the university and has to look very young and charming -- not the usual chiffon clad, objectified English teacher. That's why I confined her sensuality to her private moments with Sumanth and never extended it to the school. She is very good with Telugu which is very important for me. She also had attended reading sessions along with all the children, Sumanth and other the lead actors.


Image: A scene from Golconda High School

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'Shooting the cricket scenes was very tough'

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Was it tough to shoot the cricket matches especially with the rains playing havoc last year?

It was very tough. Sometimes it was nightmarish. The summer was equally horrifying. But thanks to the enormous support from the parents of the kids, our production team led by Prasad Nimmakayala, the trust and patience of Ram, our producer, and all the crew, we managed to pull it off.

You have a good DOP (director of photography) Senthil Kumar who had shot a 'sports' film Sye with Rajamouli before...

It was his experience in shooting a sports film that prompted me to go for him in the first place. The dramatic shots were not a problem but the cricket ones were a great challenge. It had to have all the excitement of a real cricket match but not look like an international one. It had to look like a school cricket match. So we had to avoid expansive shots and lavish angles and make the whole thing look real. That's where Senthil came in handy. He was very patient and loyal to the project and delivered commendable work.

How were the locations chosen by Ravindra?

There were very few locations and all of them were chosen by him and myself. We would discuss about them and then Ravi would embellish them with a few set pieces and merged them into the ambience. He is very good at that and it worked.

Image: A scene from Golconda High School

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'I made this film for Rammohan'

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What is Srinivas Avasarala's role in the film?

Srini wrote a dialogue version of the film which I rewrote extensively. But it was his take off point that inspired me to take up the project. I have also used his voice for the commentary in all the cricket matches in the film.

What's the experience of working together with producer Rammohan after Ashta Chamma? You two seem to share a good vibe...

Well, Ram and I work more like collaborators. He is a great friend and is passionate about making certain kind of cinema. I admire his calmness and dedication. He is committed to making a certain kind of cinema and that's what pushes me to deliver my best for him. I made this film for him and his passion.

I also admire Hari Mohan both as a person and a writer. It's my way of saying thank you to the two brothers.

Image: A scene from Golconda High School

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'There are hundredes of films like Chak De and Lagaan in Hollywood'

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What's the response like to the film?

The initial response has been terrific. All of us are very happy. Let's see how it goes.

Comparisons are odious but do you think GHS can be compared to Lagaan because of the cricket backdrop and the 'management quotient' or even another sports film like Chak De because of the tarnished image of the lead protagonist?

See, this novel came out before Chak De. Most importantly all sports films have similar format. A weak team, a gritty coach, a couple of rebels, personal redemption etc. There are hundredes of films like Chak De and Lagaan in Hollywood, all having the same elements. It's all about the context and these elements have been integrated into that particular context. In the case of GHS, it's about children, education and the right to recreation.


Image: A scene from Golconda High School

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