Khiladi headed to Italy for a month-long shoot. Before they could wrap up the shoot, a lockdown was imposed in Italy, forcing them to hurry back to Hyderabad to complete the schedule. Just a few days after they resumed shooting in Hyderabad in the first week of April, the country was hit by a massive second wave of COVID. Soon enough, COVID reached the sets of Khiladi. Several members of the team, including director Ramesh Varma tested COVID positive, bringing the shoot to a grinding halt yet again.
“It’s almost like we were trying our best to run away from the virus, but it finally caught up with us. We were already running behind schedule and wanted to wrap up shoot at the earliest so that we could release the film this summer. The Italy schedule started off smoothly with strict protocols in place, but then they imposed a lockdown and we had to stop the shoot midway and come rushing back. Unfortunately, as soon as we resumed shoot in Hyderabad, I tested COVID positive and we had to stall the shoot yet again,” shares Ramesh Varma.
The director, who had earlier helmed films like Abbayitho Ammayi and Rakshasudu, says it was hard when he was down with COVID as his entire family got infected. “While my wife and I had mild symptoms, my mother had severe symptoms and had to be hospitalised. She was even in the ICU for a couple of days but thankfully recovered. We have all tested negative now,” he says.
Putting rest to speculation about Khiladi releasing on OTT platforms, Ramesh Varma reiterates that the film will release only in theatres. “Khiladi is a mass entertainer that is meant to be seen and experienced in theatres. An OTT release cannot do justice to it. We’ve seen how the audience appreciated films like Krack and Vakeel Saab when they released in theatres. This too will be on a similar scale,” he says, adding, “We understand that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and there’s still a lot of uncertainty around. But we’re not in any hurry. We’ll wait for as long as it takes but will only release the film in theatres.”