While Evaru continues to make waves at the box-office, its director Venkat Ramji, aka Ramji Vallabhaneni, has proved yet again, that passion needs no degree. Here are excerpts from the chat with him, on his recent visit to the city.
Life before movies
Having grown up in a family of engineers, Ramji was expected to tread the same path. However, while pursuing masters in the USA, he wished to join a film school, which couldn’t happen owing to the expensive fee structure. But the creative bug refused to leave, prompting him to take up a direction course at the Oklahoma State University. “Post-graduation, I had job opportunities on one hand and the never ending-love for cinema on the other. I knew then, that my heart wanted to tell stories. And be a part of this phenomenon called ‘CINEMA’,” he shares.
The big choice and the transition phase
Venkat Ramji immediately packed his bags and moved back to India. While Ramji’s parents were skeptical at first, this didn’t deter him, but rather pushed him further to make a short film, ‘A Note To’. “To everyone’s surprise, the short-film made it to the Hyderabad International Film Festival. This not only boosted my confidence but also earned my parents’ trust”.
Foray into the showbiz
Similar to many households, the director’s parents had issued a 2-year ultimatum for him to try his luck in the film industry. A little later, Ramji started assisting director Gunnam Gangaraju. He had written the screenplay for at least 30 episodes of a teleserial directed by the latter. There he met Prakash Kovelamudi, son of legendary filmmaker K Raghavendra Rao.
Soon after, he joined the VFX team of the fantasy film Anaganaga O Dheerudu, directed by Prakash. Donning hats of a line producer to a VFX artist, he continued to work with the father-son duo on various projects, including Shirdi Sai and Daanav Hunters. Furthermore, he led the marketing team for films like Size Zero, Kshanam, Oopiri, and Brahmotsavam. “Except for music, I think I have pretty much worked in every department. All these jobs have definitely helped me in understanding the craft better,” he shares.
The journey of Evaru
When quizzed about Evaru, Ramji mentions that PVP cinema had approached him, with Adivi Sesh in the lead. Earlier, the duo had made it big with their nail-biting thriller ‘Kshanam’. “We re-worked on the script for quite some time. Throughout the filming process, our lead actors were committed to the project and breathed life into the characters. I can proudly say that Evaru is one of those rare films in which all the 24 crafts are being equally appreciated”, the director says.
What does the future hold?
Ramji is in no mood to rush onto another project. “I’ll take some time out and work on my next story. If the story offers meatier roles for the actors, I’d definitely love to work again with my cast”.
Having come to Vizag for a shoot a few years ago, Venkat Ramji recollects Vizag as a warm and cosy city, where anything and everything was close by. Now, he’s surprised at the cleanliness standards of Vizag. “This even prompted me to search for a dustbin to throw my trash”, the Evaru director laughs. “Among the eateries in the city, Venkatadri Vantillu and Raju Gaari Dhaba are my favourites”.