Vikram Kumar: Ishq is a romantic film
Director Vikram Kumar began his career with the Telugu film Ishtam (starring Charan and Shriya Saran) way back in 2001. After the Tamil film Alai in 2003, he made the hugely successful bi-lingual, 13B in Hindi and Yaavarum Nalam in Tamil, with R Madhavan and Neetu Chandra in 2009.
Vikram's latest, the Telugu film Ishq, starring Nitin and Nithya Menen, releases this Friday, February 24.
The director talks about Ishq, his association with cinematographer P C Sreeram and the cast and crew of the film.
After a bi-lingual supernatural thriller 13B, why did you choose to direct a love story and that too in Telugu?
After 13B, I started a sci-fi film, 24. It went on the floors but after a few days, there were some issues and I left.
I then got the idea of this love story. It's a challenge writing a love story because these days everyone tells a love story and the audience sees so many of them. One has to get many things right and new.
After I wrote the script, I ran it through P C Sreeram, and he said, okay let's do it.
Image: A scene from Ishq. Inset: Director Vinay Kuamar
'Nithya is a great actress'
How different is this love story from other love stories?
Everyone goes into the depths of love. I wrote it as a romantic film. I have treated it differently.
What's the film about?
Both protagonists have a lot of fun. I have also used the play in the baava-bammardi relationship (son-in-law- wife's brother).
Were Nitin and Nithya Menen your first choice for the lead pair?
Yes. I saw Nithya in Ala Modalaindi. She was brilliant and I couldn't find a better person to play this part. Nitin plays Rahul.
How was it directing both of them?
Nitin has acted in a lot of films and is a good actor. He surprised me. Nithya is a great actress. Nitin worked hard and was almost on par with her. So it's cool to watch them together.
Since the chemistry was there in the script, it unfolded on the screen.
Image: A scene from Ishq
'I made the effort to learn Telugu'
What do Sindhu Tolani and Ajay play in the film?
Sindhu plays Rahul's sister and Ajay is Priya's brother.
Ajay has performed brilliantly. He was a revelation. He is brilliant at comedy. He has such a range as a performer. After this film, people will go to him with wonderful roles. In fact I'm blessed with this ensemble casting.
This is your second Telugu film after Ishtam which was made more than a decade ago. How was the experience of directing Ishq?
When I directed Ishtam, I didn't know the language. The only Telugu words I knew were perugu (curd) and manchi neellu (drinking water). By the time I finished the film, I had learnt a little Telugu.
You need to know the language when you direct a film. So I made the effort to learn Telugu. Now I know the language and I am more mature too.
Directing the film was fun. It was like a breeze. I was doing the most fun thing in the world.
Image: A scene from Ishq
'P C Sreeram is my guide, mentor, father figure and best friend'
P C Sreeram is the director of photography (DOP) in this film. What has he added to the film?
He's the soul of the film and not just the DOP. I consult him on everything and he guides me on everything. He's the most important person in my life.
Being with PC Sir is the most fun part. He's a rockstar in what he does. He brings in so much which no else can bring.
He's my guide, mentor, father figure and best friend. He is fun to hang around with as he has a wonderful sense of humour.
What about his cinematography?
His work speaks for itself. He has got such a legacy. I am no one to comment on it.
The song Lachamma Di sung by Nitin seems to have become a hit...
Yes, Anup (Reubens) composed it. It's a wonderful track with some wonderful lyrics by Chaitanya.
Where is Ishq shot?
It was shot in Hyderabad, Goa and Delhi. The songs were shot in Kulu Manali and Kerala.
Image: P C Sreeram and Vikram Kumar
'It's a herculean task to make a bi-lingual film'
You have a good technical team with award-winning people like P C Sreeram and Sreekar Prasad (editor)...
I've surrounded myself with smart people. They spot mistakes and rectify them.
Vijay master has done a good job with the action. Madhusudan, who has done the audio mix, is fantastic. People like them and Sreekar Prasad and PC Sir enhance the quality of a film.
I'm a learning filmmaker. PC Sir spots the mistakes and rectifies them and people get to see a good film. We need smart people as we work so hard to make films that audiences pay money to see.
Everyone can make a film but making a good film is difficult.
Are you nervous now?
I'm not nervous. I'm waiting for the audience reaction. I want to know if our efforts are worth it.
Have you thought about future projects?
I've written a few scripts. I don't limit myself by language. Where the next story has to be told I'll go there.
Would you want to make a bi-lingual again?
It's a herculean task to make one. Shooting is easy while post-production is tough. I did it once; I don't think I'll do it in the near future. It's cumbersome as you have to do everything twice-- editing, sound, background score etc. It becomes boring too after you finish the first film.
Image: A scene from Ishq