Movies are made either to entertain and make profits or to put across a strong message. Movie director Sekhar Kammula follows the second reason while making his films. Right from his debut with ‘Dollar Dreams’, that spoke of the youth leaving the country for better prospects, to the latest ‘Fidaa’, all his movies have a message and touch a chord in every heart. Excerpts from his conversation with Yo! Vizag.
“I was expecting it to succeed, but the response has been even better. It’s overwhelming.”
Right from the word go, Sekhar wanted Fidaa to be a heartwarming musical love story about a guy from the US and a girl from Telangana. The different geographies and aspirations drive the story forward with elements of family, commitment, a commercial angle and as is true for every Kammula film, a strong message. The film emerged a box-office hit, a response that is heartwarming, he shares.
Location and language
“It’s been a long time since I told a Telangana based story.”
He shares that the contrast of two geographies was crucial and so he chose the lush green landscape of Nizamabad while moving away from the usual Konaseema based terrains. On the other end was the dream destination of USA. “Telangana dialect comes naturally to me” he shares, but its beauty is rarely portrayed. When asked about why he chose it for the film, he adds, “People have become habituated to characters speaking the “regular” dialect. However, all dialects are part of one language and each is beautiful in its own way.”
Cast and crew
“Varun Tej was the perfect fit to play the NRI and carried the role very well.”
Sekhar shares that he was looking for a big name to play the lead and that didn’t materialize. Dil Raju, the producer then suggested Varun Tej. He also commends Dil Raju for keeping the complete faith and giving complete freedom. “He told me to make the film in “Sekhar Kammula” style.” Sekhar also talks about the wonderful work by cinematographer Vijay C Kumar, who showcased both destinations spectacularly. Credit for the much-appreciated music goes to music director Shaktikanth. In the same breath, he also marks that his favourite as ‘Oosipodu’, a song that every lover would connect to.
“Sai Pallavi fitted the girl next door character very well.”
The highlight of the film is the character of Bhanumati played by Sai Pallavi. As the main torch bearer of the film, she too won the hearts of people across social strata. The movie director has brilliantly brought out Bhanu’s wonderful innocence. Having received appreciation from many quarters for her portrayal, Sekhar shares that he wanted to cast her for long and his team had been following her progress since Dhee, a Telugu dance show. Her role breaks the stereotype and Sekhar found her to be the right choice for Fidaa.
”I felt that at a time when cinema shows the hero harassing a girl to accept him, this story needs to be told.”
The old time tradition in India, unfortunately, forces the girl to make many adjustments for the boy she is about to marry, with no expectations from the boy. In a modern age, where neither is willing to step out of their comfort zone of career, ambition, and home, the heartwarming tale of Fidaa tells us the possibilities whilst challenging stereotypes. His word of advice for aspiring film-makers is that instead of just shooting something and uploading it on You Tube, they must have a purpose, be true to themselves and make a film that conveys their message straight to the audience.
The movie director
“There’s nobody who wouldn’t love Vizag.”
An engineer who always wanted to do something out of the box, Sekhar fell in love with filmmaking. Married to a girl from Visakhapatnam, he states that the city is beautiful. He loves being with his family and when not shooting for a film, he spends time with his daughter, often teaching her Mathematics. A good observer of people, he shares that this is what inspires him with new stories. Having won a National award, two Filmfare awards and six Nandi awards, he shares that, “Awards are good but more than awards, what makes me happier is the fact that I’m able to convey what I want to convey through my films”. In a world of mindless crass cinema, his work holds a torch that makes us look inside our hearts, and we can only wish him the best for the future.
Awards are good but more than awards, what makes me happier is the fact that as a movie director, I’m able to convey what I want to convey through my films.