’83’ has been waiting for a release for a long time now, so to have ‘Thalaivii’ releasing after the delays must come as a huge relief for you…
At the end of the day, films are being made for theatrical experiences. And getting this kind of experience at such a point of time is the most important thing. At the same time, we also want to safeguard our businesses as well because filmmaking is a mix of passion and business. So, our first priority right now is to safeguard our businesses, and the second priority is to try and show the film to as many as people through various means. With ‘Thalaivii’, we are planning on these two aspects, where we will try to recover our money invested and show the film to a maximum number of people–whether through theatres, OTT platforms, or any other medium.
Are you concerned that you might miss out on the theatrical collections from Mumbai and Maharashtra?
Definitely, that is a challenge as we waited for so long to showcase the film to as many people across the country. But at this point of time, as producers, we can’t wait for long because of the investments that we have put in. As independent producers, without studio support, doing such a big project and holding it for so long in the pandemic, is a challenge. We feel this is the right time to release the film; we cannot afford any more delay.
Almost every week we hear speculations of ‘Sooryavanshi‘ going to OTT, but then there are denials. But what’s happening with ’83’?
’83’ has a huge ensemble cast and the film itself is a sport. It is always good to watch sports along with others, and not at home alone. So ’83’ was always made to be released in theatres and we will wait for it to release in theatres. Unlike ‘Thalaivii’, ’83’ has a studio backing. So, we could afford to wait for a longer period of time.
Where did you get the idea for the Azad Hind series and the Veerangana Durgawati Devi movie?
‘Azad Hind’ series has been in discussion for a couple of years, but when we were talking to the team and my writers, they had come up with 3-4 different names on whom to make films. We all zeroed in on Durgawati, as it has a story to be told, along with a lot of things that people wouldn’t know. For example, she inspired Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad who are huge inspirations for the youth of the nation.
Kangana Ranaut is known to be super passionate about her projects. How was your experience of working with her on ‘Thalaivii’?
Kangana is very passionate about whatever she does. She is very confident and definitely contributes to the film. If you see her on the screen in the trailer, she has done a splendid job!
Telugu cinema has become an internationally followed industry. Does that put pressure on producers to push the envelope more with their new projects?
I don’t think so. Every story has its own limits and requirements. I don’t think anyone is under pressure to push the envelope.
What do you think is your USP as a producer? What is it that defines your choices in cinema and your films?
My USP, as a producer, is that I come up with the idea first. I don’t wait for directors or writers to pitch an idea to me. I come up with the idea first and then pitch it to writers and directors. Then, whoever is excited about my idea, will move forward with the project. In most of my films, the ideas come from me and then move ahead. With ‘Thalaivii’ and ’83’, it was my idea to make the films
Anything you want to add to the conversation?
In times like these with the pandemic, box office collections can’t be taken as the benchmark for films’ success; the only criteria should be focused on the recovery of investment and making sure that the film is showcased to a larger audience through whichever model the producer chooses–either Direct to Digital or a hybrid release of theatrical and OTT. The industry is going through a tough time and we can’t judge anyone for their decision. ‘Thalaivii’ is made for big screens and we want to showcase our film in theatres first, and at the same time, we definitely want to safeguard our investment through the non-theatrical deals. We, as an industry, including producers, distributors, exhibitors should all work together and create a win-win situation for each other by relaxing the traditional terms and conditions; we can go back to the original terms once things are normal.