Praveen Sattaru, who has made ‘Garuda Vega’ after writing a bound script, says that content decides a film’s market, not its hero or the budget. In this interview, he talks about his film, why the NIA backdrop came in handy for penning imaginative scenes, and more.
Rajasekhar has said that he had always wanted to do a ‘Bourne Identity’ and a ‘Die Hard’ and that ‘Garuda Vega’ felt like doing one. What is your take?
I have the satisfaction of having made a film that may be said to be in the similar space as a ‘Die Hard’. I had written this story in 2006. The soul of it has remained intact, but the scale has only increased by leaps and bounds. Earlier, it was a cop’s story. I changed it to an NIA officer’s story. When I wanted to do a film like this, only Rajasekhar garu came to my mind. The script was modified keeping his age and body language in mind.
The backdrop sounds quite new. What challenges did you face because of the NIA backdrop that you have chosen?
With a secretive agency like the NIA, you have the freedom to write anything and convince the audience that such things can happen. That freedom you have with a sleuth’s story. It’s because most of their operations are secretive and people don’t know much about their modus operandi. The Teaser and the Trailer have become huge hits, although star tortoise reference has confused us as much as it has confused Ali!
Nowadays, if the trailer is not good, nobody is going to watch your film. As for star tortoises, they have nothing to do with the story. It’s made clear in the trailer itself.
What is the root cause of the conflict between Rajasekhar and his wife’s characters?
Being sleuths dealing with national security issues, they don’t reveal their activities to even family members. But the wife in my wife has concerns for obvious reasons. At a time when her husband is trying to balance his personal and professional lives, something game-changing happens. Niranjan (Adith Arun) enters and things change. What is that is to be seen in the film.
Action sequences seem to be quite high-end. Tell us about that. I wrote the design of even action sequences. I wrote the things in detail. And it’s up to the stunts department to execute them. The action is integral to the story. If the action has no relation to the story, then the audiences can’t relate to it. They have to emotionally connect with the action part. In Hollywood films, they make it appear that the action is real.
‘GV’ has admittedly cost Rs. 25-30 Cr. Isn’t it too huge?
Who decides the market of a film? ‘Arjun Reddy’ was made on a very small budget. It’s not the budget or the hero who decides the success of a film. It’s the content. It’s quite stupid for the makers to ask the director how much the making might cost. It’s not his job to worry about it. It’s the Line Producer’s and the Production Controller’s mandate. The director’s concern is his creative job. He is not the one who should think about the budget.
But when a big-budgeted film fails, the director’s image takes a beating. That happens when you go on the floors without a bound script. Some directors narrate what is in their mind so well. But the execution is a different scenario. You can’t judge a director’s ability on the basis of his narration skills.
Coming to ‘GV’, why did you have to go all the way to Georgia to shoot an action scene?
I visualized planes flying over a dam, some parachutes being used, machine guns being used, and bombs being detonated. I could have shot this at Srisailam dam had we got the permission. With no permission coming, we went to Georgia. We shot at the world’s 6th tallest dam. It was on the Russian-Georgian border. The making was a big challenge despite all the coordination.
The script had been read by everyone including the set assistant. They were all charged-up to see the script getting translated into visuals.
Why was Sunny Leone chosen? Is it to cash in on her popularity?
Yes, Sunny Leone was selected keeping commercial values in mind. The producers wanted a special song and suggested Sunny’s name.
You hit out at the censoring standards the other day.
I had faced problems even for ‘Chandamama Kathalu’. They wanted a kissing scene involving Naresh and Amani to be cut short. They have it that even fictional government officers and fictional ministers shouldn’t be criticized in a fictional set-up in a movie. This is not even China-like. This is North Korea-like. A film is not a news channel making allegations against anyone. A film is a creative product. That’s it.
Your previous film was criticized by many.
‘Guntur Talkies’ was made for those who can understand the aesthetics of the such a film. It was not for families. So, we made it clear that if you are married, you watch it with your friends and let your spouse watch it with his or her friends. Hypocritically, those who watched the movie 2-3 times pretended not to have watched it or liked it. I am not generalizing though.
Tell us about your next film.
Pullela Gopichand’s biopic will go on the floors in March next year and it will release sometime in 2019. There is so much drama in his life and we have had to tone down the drama to make it look less dramatic. It’s a very inspiring story full of controversies and emotional moments. Sudheer Babu will play the titular role. The casting of other members will take time. Before this film, I might make another movie.