Much anticipated film Bro starring the Powerstar Pawan Kalyan and Sai Dharam Tej in the lead roles is the next big Tollywood film coming under the banner People Media Factory, one of the leading production houses in Telugu cinema.
During a press interaction, director Samuthirakani gives insights about working for Bro and how the bonding with Pawan Kalyan in the process changed his perspective about the star.
Starting as a character artiste in films, you have reached a stage where you got the golden chance to direct a big star like Pawan Kalyan. How do you see your graph?
Nothing has happened as per plan in my career (laughs). This is my fifteenth movie, I’ve not tried anything with a proper plan. I came to the film industry as an assistant director in 1994, and since then I started working on whatever came my way, that’s all. Hit or flop – I have the habit of taking both of them in a positive stride.
Have you first thought about doing a remake when the idea came to your mind?
The script ‘Bro’ doesn’t fall under the remake category. I want to make the film in 12 Indian languages. To make a film in the Tulu language, I would probably take artistes from that industry and make the film. It would cost around Rs 30 lakh. The budget varies from other industries. It is important how we take the content forward. Everything changed after I made ‘Vinodhaya Sitham’ and after ‘Bro’ I felt my purpose has been accomplished, and everything that comes with it is a bonus.
You became very emotional during the trailer launch event of Bro? What made you teary-eyed?
It’s been four since I heard the sound and cheers of the audience. Vinodhaya Sitham had no theatrical release. So we didn’t know the response of fans – how they took it. How much they enjoyed watching it. How they reacted, nothing… But, the response that has been coming for ‘Bro’ is something very phenomenal. After hearing the sound from the crowd, I assured myself that I am on the right track.
Were you tense while handling Pawan Kalyan?
No, nothing has made me tense. In fact, the project happened so magically. Probably 10 days after Vinodhaya Sitham got released, an aged business magnet from Madurai, who had watched my film, was lost in deep thoughts. Probably, he was numbed by the story’s philosophy. Since then he was eager to meet me but has no idea whom to approach. He came into contact with renowned Tamil poet and lyricist Vairamuthu. Through him, he happened to meet me. He had no words to describe his feelings about Vinodhaya Sitham. He was deeply touched by the story. He told me that his perspective of looking at this world has changed. Then I happened to discuss with Pawan Kalyan garu about the response that I got for Vinodhaya Sitham. And everything went very smoothly when he okayed the project.
What changes have you made for ‘Bro‘?
In Vinodhaya Sitham, the story deals with the odds and challenges of a 50-year-old man and how he struggles in his life. But here in ‘Bro’ when I narrated the story Pawan Kayan garu, the end dialogue is what piqued the interest of the Powerstar. The characters speak Telugu when they’re alive on Earth. But on his departure, the character asks, “If the language is different in heaven, how can I communicate? I know nothing other than Telugu. Then Kalyan garu replies there is no language in heaven, everyone is equal. Then what’s the case with hell? Powerstar says, “I picked you up from there.” The message of the film – there’s no future, everything is in the present (now). So in just 10 minutes, the whole screenplay has been changed. We convinced Sai Dharam Tej to play the character of Mark. I have known Kalyan garu since the days of ‘Ala Vaikuntapuramulo’. My eyes still can’t believe that I have done a film with Powerstar. Every time I meet him, he says I can do it. He heard about me and my work from senior comedian Sunil who had worked with me for Shambo Shiva Shambo some 10 years ago. Sunil was a big actor back then. So I somehow managed him while filming it. So Powerstar trusted my work ethics and pushed me forward.
How do you define your travel with Trivikram garu?
Trivikram garu has a unique personality. More than a visual treat, the story will entertain audiences. I shot the film in 53 days. I didn’t even waste even a second. But it looks as if we shot the film for 150 days. In all 15 movies I helmed, Bro is the best that I could give. We face different situations in our lives, when Trivikram garu gave his hand, I felt as if my father walked in and rendered his hand as though to uplift me. Even Pawan Kalyan, whom I call Anna, came to me and said, ‘You didn’t break the trust that I kept in you’. I owe Powerstar anna for his truthfulness.
He further added, “We first thought of the name Chiranjeevi for Tej’s character. Later, Kalyan garu himself came up with “Markandeya”. And he said the name could be shortened to Mark.
Samuthirakani didn’t take much pain in handling both the actors – one a superstar and another an emerging talent. “Their chemistry on the screen is enough to tell the whole story. Nothing I had to do extra on the sets, just to fix the camera properly on them. We all know the role of time in our lives. How time plays with Mark is the story in Bro.
Bro has become a trendsetter by completing its shoot in very less time. Do you think the same could be applicable to other films?
It is completely based on the content. We can’t say such a script can be shot in this much time. No, it doesn’t work. Only content should decide. I was able to shoot Vinodhaya Sitham in just 19 days. With the same confidence, I could handle Kalyan garu.In the past, I was able to direct 3,000 episodes for the daily serial ‘Jhansi’. Senior yesteryear actress Radhika played the double role. She would come to the sets at 11 am. She would say she will leave by 3.30 pm. I used to request her since she had to play double roles in the film. I was very quick in completing the crucial portions. That helped me in my journey as a director.
In the latest interview, you said that Pawan Kalyan is not a State leader, he is a national leader. Can you elaborate on it?
Definitely, if I speak on the topic, I have so much about him. The entire day goes for it. In one of our conversations, Pawan Kalyan garu said that God is given two hands to every human being. One to feed your family, the other to the poor. That very thought has made me curious about Kalyan garu’s personality.
How satisfied were you working with music director S Thaman?
The first time when I saw S Thaman’s work of re-recording for Bro, tears rolled down my eyes. Thaman too broke down before me. He said the story is very close to his heart. He recalled his father who passed away when he was 11 years old. Usually, music directors were never with us during the release time. But S Thaman assured me that he would sit with me and ensure everything gets aligned.