Srinivasa Reddy made a name for himself as comedy director with back-to-back small-budget comedy hits like Adirindayya Chandram and Tata Birla Madhyalo Laila. His latest film Yamagola Malli Modalaindi is all set to hit the marquee on 23 August. Here is our exclusive interview with the director -
I was born in 1969 in Velagalavari Palem (Tanuku mandal) of West Godavari district. I completed my primary education in Velagalavari Palem before moving to Penumantra for high school studies. Later on I joined in DNR inter college in Bhimavaram where famous movie personalities like SV Krishna Reddy, Trivikram and Sunil studied. I had to drop out of the college in the first year and go to Karnataka due to some unavoidable circumstances.
I joined as an assistant for popular Kannada director Vijaya Reddy in 1984. That is when I got introduced to M Shyam Prasad Reddy. My first film in Telugu was Shyam Prasad Reddy's Ahuthi. I worked in direction department under Kodi Rama Krishna for that film. Later on I worked as an assistant director for various films directed by G Ram Mohan Rao and Y Nageswara Rao. Y Nageswara Rao used to treat me like a brother and there is lot of his influence on my work. I worked as co-director with Siva Nageswara Rao for three more films. He encouraged me a lot.
During that time my friends (Anand Reddy, Srinivasa Reddy, Ramalingeswara Reddy and Rama Krishna Reddy) joined their hands with me to produce my debut film `Ashadam Pellikoduku' (1997) with Ali as hero. Then I directed a suspense film titled `February 14 Necklace Road' with Suman and Bhanu Priya in the main lead. Then I directed a film titled Andam. This film was produced by MS Reddy and T Subbirami Reddy. That film is still languishing in cans. I suffered a lot for the next four years.
That is when Trinadh Pedhiredla (PRO) took me to N Suryaprakasa Rao and introduced me. We made Adirindayya Chandram with Sivaji as hero. This film was completed in the scheduled time due to the help of Sivaji and his friend Ammiraju. It worked well at box office. It was N Surya Prakasa Rao who gave me life as a director. After that I directed Tata Birla Madhyalo Laila. This film became a hit and got me recognition as a comedy director.
Tell us about your latest project Yamagola Malli Modalaindi?
When I was doing promos for Tata Birla Madhyalo Laila in Frame Graphics studios, Raja Sekhar (one of the partners) told me that we were going to make a film together. Then I told him that we can mix my kind of comedy and their kind of graphics to come up with a storyline. That is how Yamagola Malli Modalaindi started.
We have seen many Yama films in the past. How different is Yamagola Malli Modalaindi?
All the films we have seen dealt with the hero meeting with an accident and going to Yamalokam. Then he fights with Yama and returns to earth. In the end, hero tricks Yama with a senti scene and sends him away permanently. But in this film, Yama comes directly to earth to take the life away of a person.
Tell us about characterizations?
1. Srikanth: Srikanth did the role of Jr. Yama (grandson of Lord Yama played by K Satyanarayana). Srikanth proved as a versatile artist with the films like Operation Duryodhana and Shankar Dada Zindabad. He is an extraordinary performer. In my opinion, Srikanth is the next actor outside Nandamuri heroes who can deliver terrific performances in pouranikas. He comes to earth to do his duty in this film.
2. Venu: Venu did the role of Jr. Chitragupta. We created scenes in such a way to suit his body language. His comedy in this film is going to be a good relief.
3. Heroines: Meera Jasmine did the role of a soft and kind hearted person. Reema Sen did the role of sub-inspector of police. Her role is of rough and tough nature. The entire story revolves around Meera Jasmine's character.
4. Kaikala Satyanarayana: All Yama backdrop films with Kaikala Satyanarayana doing the role of Yama became blockbusters. We added some comedy by making him a BP patient and diabetic.
5. Allu Ramalingaiah: We used graphics to create Allu Ramalingaiah doing Chitragupta character.
6. Krishna Bhagawan: Krishna Bhagawan did pivotal roles in my earlier films. This film too is no exception. He did the role of Narada. He is a huge plus point to this film.
Tell us about the music?
Jeevan Thomas has composed nice music for this film. He worked with senior music directors like MS Viswanadhan, Rammurthy, Ilayaraja and AR Rehman as music conductor. He has deep knowledge in carnatic, western and Indian classical music. There are five songs in this album. The audio went down well with the music lovers. This music will help the success of the film.
What are the highlights of Yamagola Mallimodalaindi?
Story and narration are the main highlights. The scenes involving bringing Yama and Chitra Gupta to earth are going to be extraordinary. The scene in which Yama embodies into a doll and the scene in which Srikanth squabbles with six Venus are going to be hilarious. The other main highlight is the interval episode where Srikanth is shown as Kala Yamudu. The graphics in this film have a duration of 1 hour.
Tell us about the producers?
The producers (Amar, Rajasekhar and Satish) have their own graphics and animation company. The graphics in this film have a duration of 1 hour. And those graphics are very well done because the producers own the graphics studios. We had ample time and talented people to do these graphics in an impressive way. It took over 6 months to do graphics work. I am sure that these producers will become big in the future.
You had seen the final version of the film. How did you like it?
I was thrilled looking at the film. There is comedy, action, drama and sentiment in this film. It would be liked by the entire family. After the release of this film, I am expecting offers from big heroes and big production houses.
What is your goal as a director?
I want to make films that gives multiple profits to producer, distributor and exhibitors. My films should also give more value for the money spent by audience. I also would like to do heart touching films like sagara sangamam, matrudevobhava along with commercial films.
What are your future projects?1. Premabhishekam (Veediki Cancer ledu): This film will sport Srihari and Venu madhav as heroes. Dasari provides story
2. Kuberulu (Veellaku anni appule): Srinivas will produce this film.
3. A film with Srikanth as hero. This film will be produced by an NRI Kishore Putta.
4. A film with Allari Naresh as hero in EVV Cinema banner. Ammiraju will present this film.
5. A film with RR Moviemakers.
The young, vivacious, zesty, spunky and irrepressible actress Shriya Reddy has seen it all. Fame, fortune, glory and a generous dose of glamour. But the VJ, actress is not the one to rest on her father Bharat Reddy's laurels. She is an inspiration when she says: "It only goes to show that if you have it in you, someday, somehow, your chance will come. If you can do it, nothing can stop you — not age, or discouragement, or trouble. Nothing! Some day, Fate will open a door and beckon you in. Though you may be old and hopeless, tired and disappointed, you will obey the summons, just the same, and you will have your reward for all those years of weary waiting."
And it's worth waiting for — take Shriya Reddy's word for it! No youngster could be getting a bigger, more satisfying "kick" out of success than this woman, at twenty three. There has never been a young screen star that fought harder for success. She is sometimes sprightly, sometimes mellow and tolerant and kindly. She has learned her lessons, and she can enjoy her success. She is happy because she can look back and know that she has done it all herself. There is something about Shriya Reddy and you will definitely agree with me.
If you have anything really valuable to contribute to the world it will come through the expression of your own personality, that single spark of divinity that sets you off and makes you different from every other living creature. I always believed in myself and at the cost of sounding pompous I would like to say that today I am here because I've worked hard for it. Parents backing and support is always there but after a point of time you will have to prove yourself and walk on your own. I am constantly motivating myself and kicking myself to go for it.
I am what I am and I say what I feel like, I'm very spontaneous and probably that's the reason why I am a happy person today. Sometime back I was in Hyderabad to host the Film Fare Awards. It was a memorable event. I happened to encounter Rekha, who is unarguably the most enigmatic star. Who is not in awe of her flawless hauteur, her elegance? I always emulated her, was dumbstruck when she came over to me and introduced herself, "Hi I'm Rekha, you are a very beautiful girl." She was actually going over the stage to give the best actor award to Chiranjeevi. It's such an endearing quality to appreciate others. I found the same humility in Chiranjeevi too. While walking down he came up to me and remarked, "My daughter told me that you are very famous amongst the youngsters and you are doing a great job."
Another person Gunnam Gangaraju, is nothing short of a genius. I worked with him and found him to be brilliant man and a wonderful filmmaker. I am doing a film titled Amma Cheppindi in his direction. You will find me bashing up all the goons in it. I can never be this prim and proper sophisticated girl or I can't see myself running around trees. None of my films have the conventional song-and-dance formula or loud clothes or melodramatic dialogues. I am for realistic cinema. I want to be known as an actress. I'd love to do lot more things like getting into the cricket team, and might probably find myself a job as a commentator. I can't crack jokes like Siddhu but I have my own style.
I keep myself grounded and I have my own four boundaries, I won't expose. I don't drink, smoke, I stick to my principles. When I'm not talking you can find me unwinding reading a book or maybe watching a film at home. I'm not orthodox or conservative but i know where to draw the line. You can never find me in a night club. You need to strike a balance somewhere and some point of time in life. We are not Americans.
I have a fair idea about my future plans. I will continue working, produce my own TV shows and utilize my voice for the radio perhaps. A great deal has been spoken about my voice and I am humbled. I remember when I was a child, Ravi Shastri and Sandip Patil came home and I heard them telling my dad that I had a great voice. It's not that I do the talking always. I am a great listener too and are times I just want to stay quite but my family becomes restless, they expect some noise round always. My voice is very infectious I guess. I've short term dreams and I will work hard for it because I know that they are reachable and I can get it. Everything is possible.