Radhika Rajamani in Hyderabad
Director B V Nandini Reddy has been riding the wave of success ever since her debut Telugu film Ala Modalaindi was declared a hit. The rom-com just completed 50 days in the theatres and is garnering acclaim from all quarters.
Radhika Rajamani chats up the debutante filmmaker.
Ala Modalaindi is a smash hit, and has crossed 50 days. What's your reaction?
Awesome, feels great. I feel elated, humbled and overwhelmed; mixed emotions, I would say.
Did you anticipate this kind of success?
No. I knew people would not call it a crappy film but I did not expect it to be appreciated in such a huge way. You never know how any film would do. I'm totally overwhelmed by what's happening.
'It was a time-pass film'
Do you think the film is doing well because you'd felt the pulse of the audience?
When I was writing, I wasn't really thinking about the pulse of the people. I was writing a script that fits into my sensibilities, to my taste, to my sense of humour because that's the only thing I can fall back on. If you want to make a film that will fit in for everybody, then you are most likely to fall flat on your face. This is a film close to my sensibilities. The fact that everybody found something they liked in it is a bonus for me. It wasn't part of a strategy.
You didn't play to the gallery.
No I didn't. The only thing I did consciously when I was writing the film was, I wanted this film to be one many will watch when they are having a bad day. I wanted everyone to buy a DVD of this film and watch it a second time; maybe once with the friend, then with the family. That kind of a film you don't mind watching any time. It was a time-pass film which you can have a blast watching.
'Smaller films tell better stories'
The film has crossed 50 days in theatres and is still going strong. Are you hoping that it would reach 100 days?
I am reasonably confident it will reach 100 unless something untoward happens. But I'm confident we'll touch the magical figure and I'm really happy about that. I think this will give a lot of confidence to small producers which I feel is vital for the industry not only commercially but also in terms of creativity. It's in the smaller films that you can tell a story different from the bigger films.
Accolades must have poured in large numbers. Any special ones that you remember?
My idol Singeetham Srinivasa Rao Garu called me up. The fact that somebody of his stature calls to talk about my film was a huge deal.
Kaikala Satyanarayana, a veteran actor who has seen great filmmakers, had such great things to say about my film.
The next one is from my friend's 11-year-old daughter Liha. We were watching this film in Chennai. She hugged me and told me 'Nandu, I loved this film, my favouritest film'. It was so genuine, so honest and so spontaneous. It was not a critical statement. That was one of the genuine responses.
A lot of people have even thanked me for making this film. It's heartwarming to receive such genuine feedback. It's pretty much the Oscar for me.
'Nithya is the discovery of the decade'
Your choice of casting was spot on. Nani and Nithya were brilliant. What's your opinion of their performance in the film?
I've always maintained that I was very proud of my casting. Nithya, according to me, is the discovery of the decade. You don't find actors like her. They are very rare. They are very, very special.
Nani has always been a very spontaneous and charismatic actor. He has got a way of doing things; he has got style, timing, panache and a natural way of doing it. I just feel he's getting better and better with each film. To me, he's the star of the future.
Would you want to work with Nani and Nithya again?
I keep saying I would love to do all my films with them (laughs). It's just so easy when your actors know what you want and they know you and you know them. I would love to do all my films with them.
'My next project could be a rom-com'
Your next project is with producer Bellamkonda Suresh. Have you begun work on it?
I have started scripting it. It's another boy-girl story but different from Ala Modalaindi. It could be in the rom-com genre. That's all I can say right now.
Have you decided on the cast?
Samantha is already in. I have confirmed her. I am still trying to confirm the hero. Discussions are on.
When do you plan to start shooting?
I'm looking at June-July.
'A lot of goodwill poured in for the film'
The success party was attended by many film personalities. Is it hard to earn the goodwill?
I feel very happy and humbled by it. I think after Arundhati, everybody wanted Shyam garu's film to do well since he's such a respected and loved person in the industry. There was such a huge wave of goodwill for the film.
After that I have seen that kind of a healthy and positive feedback for Ala Modalaindi. I am not comparing our film to Arundhati -- that was huge -- but the same kind of goodwill sentiment poured in for Ala Modalaindi. I had directors like Harish Shankar (whose film had released just one week before mine and yet he was promoting Ala Modalindi on Twitter), Vamsi and others, it was so positive. Young directors called me and told me wonderful things about the film and it was wonderful hearing that.
'I'm not trying to break in any male bastion'
The Telugu industry has not had a successful woman director for some years.
Being a woman frankly is not an issue for me. I've never seen myself as a woman trying to storm a male bastion but a lot of people have had issues with it. So I guess this is my answer to them.