Filmy Focus caught up with latest and trending Telugu Sports drama web-series Loser director, Abhilash Reddy. Annapurna Studios produced the series and it is available on Zee5 OTT platform.
Here are the experts from our conversation.
FF: Hi Abhilash, first of all congrats on making such a different sports drama on Telugu web-scene with integrity. How did you manage to get Annapurna Studios to back your project?
Abhilash: Thank you so much. May be because of that integrity people are liking our series as we hoped they would. I knew Lemon Prasad sir from Zee5 who encouraged me when I was doing my first web-series, Ekkadiki Ee Parugu. Because of his encouragement I could come up with a screenplay like Loser. After completing the screenplay, I met Supriya Ma’am and Maheshwar Reddy garu from Annapurna Studios through my script. Prakash garu gave good feedback about me to them and once they read the screenplay and understood my vision, they stood like a backbone, supporting me at every step.
FF: In Film Industry, there is a saying that Supriya Ma’am is a tough task master. How did you find working with her?
Abhilash: It was absolute pleasure. She never tried to force her vision or business sense on my script or my work. She used to give me everything I have asked for and yes, it is tough to convince someone on first meeting, itself. You need to understand their point of view and come up with a debate that presents your point of view perfectly. In that way, people understand each other. Once, she understood what I wanted and what my story is all about, she never tried to strike me down. She believed in me from day one and guided me with her experience. I am grateful to her and Annapurna Studios for the experience.
FF: That’s awesome. How did you decide on going for a sports drama that you while making a regional language web-series?
Abhilash: I think world is becoming one big global village and we cannot think in narrow spectrum. We need to develop content that is universal and we chose a sports drama with that intention. Actually, we planned to release the series in 7 different languages at a time but the Covid-19 pandemic did not allow us to do so. But I am happy that we are getting good reviews from people across India and globe as well.
FF: Series found very positive reception. Any compliment that you liked the most?
Abhilash: I and my team are enjoying the success of our series. I am thankful each and everyone from the Industry for watching our series and encouraging us. We are team of novices, in comparison to them and to find such encouragement is overwhelming. Even the messages on social media and messages I receive from different people, my friends are highly satisfying.
Coming to a memorable compliment, people understood how we used Pallavi and Ruby characters to encourage women empowerment against martial rape and sexual harassment. I did not explicitly try to explain it and kept it very subtle. When people catch such nuances and appreciate, what more can I ask?
FF: Several people complained that the series is slow while appreciating the effort. Do you have something to say about that?
Abhilash: I would respect their view point. I, in fact, all our team including Annapurna Studios team, discussed about the pacing of the series and story. We thought, we should not loose our integrity and let the emotions in our drama speak. So, this is perfect pacing according to me. But if someone feels it was slow, all I would say is that we felt it was required for people to connect with characters and respect them for sharing their view about our series. Such criticism help us grow and I am all game for it.
FF: There are certain elements that could have become controversial too. ….
Abhilash: I understand what you’re referring to. Yes, Shiyaji Shinde garu’s character does speak about going and living in our neighbouring country. Even few people from Tamil Nadu called me and asked, why I showcased him in that fashion? But the times were sensitive and people belonging to one community did feel such emotion. I reflected it. So if I needed to say that something is wrong, I am ought to show the negative side of it first and then only, I can discuss how wrong it was or it is. As it goes into spoiler territory, let’s leave it at that!
FF: We understand. All we wanted to know is did you draw a line for yourself while writing the script to avoid controversy?
Abhilash: Yes, indeed. We wanted to give importance to emotions behind the characters and not make them caricatures. At the same time, we wanted to keep our series controversy free. Hence, you can see that only emotions behind an issue were highlighted than explicitly trying to showcase them. We wanted to subtly hint at things than tell them over the top, on your face.
FF: How did you cast the series?
Abhilash: I knew Shashank garu from the days, I was making my short films. He trusts my vision and I know his abilities. I wrote Wilson character keeping him in mind. I knew Kalpika from my earlier series. For me the surprise package is Priyadarshi. He has a face that middle class can content to and we took him for that reason as Suri. By that time, Mallesham did not come out to say that we knew what he can offer to this character. Somehow, we felt he is the right choice and he gave his absolute best. I learnt a lot from him about the discipline and nuances. Not just from him, each and every cast member, had some thing or the other to offer us and as a bunch of youngsters, we are happy that we could grasp them. I am positive that my next projects will be even better with what all I learnt from each one of them while working on sets.
FF: Did Nagarjuna and Akkineni family members watch the series?
Abhilash: Amala garu told me that Nag sir loved the series and she liked it too. Samantha garu, Sushanth garu liked it too. Over the weekend, Naga Chaitanya garu and Samantha garu said that they will watch the series. I am happy that such seniors enjoyed our work.
FF: You and your team members were mostly from AISFM. How do you rate your experience learning at that film school?
Abhilash: I specialised in film editing along with direction and editing. I tried to use all the knowledge I acquired from my time at AISFM. And if you liked my work then I can say thanks to the lecturers there.
FF: What inspired you to write a sports drama?
Abhilash: We wanted to tell a story about two Losers coming together to help a person and make him a Winner. We felt sports is an unique emotion in itself, which has an universal connect. We chose time specific sports like – Cricket was becoming popular in 80’s – hence, Wilson is a cricketer , Badminton was rising in popularity in 90’s – hence, Ruby plays badminton and Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang made Air Rifle Shooting a popular one in 2000’s – hence, Suri’s character wanted to become a shooter. It is not easy to become a shooter and it is said to be a rich man’s sport. So, we thought bringing emotions behind three sportspersons is perfect premise to explore the basic idea of our story with such difficult sport at the heart.
FF: Finally, what are your next projects?
Abhilash: I have several ideas but first I would love to digest the success of Loser fully and then start writing.
FF: Once again congrats on your success and thanks for your time.
Abhilash: Thank you and all pleasure is mine. I would like to request the readers of Filmy Focus to watch our Loser as it is a story of hope in dark times.
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