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Journey of #PelliChoopulu : Producer Raj Kandukuri Interview

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The makers of “Pelli Choopulu” are very much busy with the promotions. The film is releasing on 29th July and Cinebucket had a very long conversation with the film’s producer Raj Kandukuri yesterday. He spoke about the film, making, production, story selection and many more things.

raj kandukuri interview pelli choopulu

How did Pelli Choopulu happen?

Popular producer Suresh babu is a very close family friend of mine. He suggested me the film. I gave a interview to a news magazine where I said that I am ready to encourage new subjects. They published it with the title “Dhammunna Katha Tho Vasthe Nenu Cinema Theeeyadaniki Ready” (If you have strong content, I am ready to produce the film.) The interview has gone viral on all social networking platforms and I received so many scripts. One day Suresh Babu also came across the interview and called me to say that there is an interesting story with Tharun Bhascker. On the same day, actor Sudhakar Komakula also called me and said that Vijay Devarakonda wants to meet me. I asked both of them to come and meet me. When they met me, Vijay said about the story of Tharun Bhascker. That’s how both Suresh Babu and Sudhakar Komakula introduced Tharun Bhascker to me. The next day, Tharun along with Vijay came and met me to narrate the story. Three of us sat at Heart cup Coffee shop (Jubilee Hills Road No. 45) and Tharun gave me a narration of two and half hours. I was blown away with the brillaint narration from Tharun. Immediately I called up Suresh Babu garu and said that I am going to do the film. I discussed the same with both Vijay and Tharun. Within a week span, the official announcement on the film came out.

What made you take up this project?

The narrating style of Tharun impressed me. He has perfect clarity about what he wanted to make. Also, the story is very real and everyone can easily get connected to it. Somewhere I felt that this film is going to a highlight in my career and I immediately started the film. I collaborated with my friend Yash for this project. He used to stay in touch with us through Whastapp, Skype calls. We used to have Skype Call sessions every weekend. We gave day to day updates to Yash about the film and he also made sure that the young team was comfortable. After Yash is back in India, we had great time on sets and during the post production phase. Both of us were very happy with the film.

Have you gone to the shoot? Explain your role as a producer while making the film?

For the first four days of the shoot, I tried to understand the team and their style of making. The first schedule began at Sainikpuri colony. They started with a scene that comes in the second half of the film. While I am starting the film, many said me that I am taking a big risk by making a film with short film makers but I proceeded only after liking the story. Though there was a little fear inside, I convinced myself that I am going to prove those people wrong. I stayed till lunch and left the sets on the four days. I finally got confidence that these guys are going to do something which will work at the box office. Since then, I visited the sets whenever I am free and was in touch with the executive producers and others regarding the maintenance, checking the accounts and the planning.

How did you use your experience for Pelli Choopulu? Did you give any suggestions/tips to the film unit?

I liked the story and clarified all the doubts I had even before we started the shoot. I am sure that Tharun is going to make what he has narrated to me. But they are not completely aware of how film industry works. They knew to make a film but here we have so many things like Film Unions approval, permissions for locations, Holiday on Second Sunday and few other things. I used my experience in dealing with these things. I am always with the young team and they used to say “Raj garu meeru unte maku chala Strength untundhi andi.” (Raj Sir, your presence gives us a lot of strength.)

Whose idea was to keep “Pelli Choopulu” as the title of the film?

Initially, our title was Anukokunda (name of Tharun Bhascker’s short film) but it is not available for us. Then, I suggested Pelli Choopulu as the film is about the same. But Tharun felt it brings an outdated feel. Then, we decided to add hashtag (#) to the title to make it look modern.

How are you convinced with young people/new comers in other departments?

I wanted to give one of the best DOP’s and Music directors of the film industry for Tharun Bhascker. But Tharun said that he already selected a DOP and also has a music director with him. After witnessing their sample works, I am convinced that they can handle the project very well with Tharun leading the team. I give the complete credit to Tharun for the beautiful output of the film. Now I’m enjoying the success of their hard work.

Do you think Pelli Choopulu is a new beginning for you?

Yes. I am seeing myself as a producer in a completely new way. This time, I wanted to prove that I am on the right path. I committed many mistakes in the past knowingly and unknowingly. But now, I’ve decided not to make any mistakes knowingly.

Tell us about the support you received from film industry?

Almost everyone in the film industry are good friends of mine. They always wished for my success. Everyone is very much co-operative.

How did you manage budget for the film?

I write down the number of shooting days and allocate a particular amount for one day for shooting which enables to have a clarity on the amount being spent on the film. I and Yash put our own money on the film. So, there is no interest and all. Today, after watching the film people will be convinced that every penny spent is seen on the screen.

Did you complete the film in the estimated budget?

Almost yes! A little ups and downs happened like when we expected that the location would be free, we were asked to pay the rent. Except for that we are happy about completing the film in less budget.

Are you satisfied as the producer of the film?

Cent percent. Today, I am feeling elated with all the response coming from the special shows of the film. What Tharun narrated to me is what I am watching it on screen now. He made Pelli Choopulu 20 times more beautiful that what he narrated. Tharun and his team are real gems. So far, I made close to ten films in my career spanning around ten years. I am sure that Pelli Choopulu film will be remembered forever for its story, making and many other aspects. People should think about me whenever they bring the discussion of Pelli Choopulu. I should be remembered for producing the film Pelli Choopulu. I am very proud of my film Pelli Choopulu. This film is like a visiting card for me now. Wherever I go, I can show the film and can be proud of my judgement.

Do you have any fears with the film’s release strategy as there is talk in the industry that low budgeted films will not be given good theatres?

Frankly speaking, I never under-estimated the film and my team. My only concern was that the film should be given a good release. But then, I convinced myself that there are so many well-wishers in the industry and someone will surely help me out during the release.

Tell us about the phase you undergone before selling the rights of the film?

My Good friend Madhura Sridhar Reddy garu is the first person to watch the film. We watched the film at his office in Avid room. During interval, he did not speak anything and this really worried me. But after watching second half he took me to his personal room and offered me a blank cheque. That gesture really gave big boost for my confidence levels. He said that he will take the film and offered a share too! I discussed the same with the other producer Yash Rangineni and he left the decision to me. My only policy in film production is to stay in safe zone to the maximum possible extent. The next day, Suresh Babu garu called me and asked to arrange a screening for him. I, Madhura garu and Suresh garu watched the film at Film Chamber at 10PM the next day. After watching the film, Suresh Babu garu asked me “What is it that if I want to  take the film?” I was happy to give away the film to him but he added “Did you sign a deal with Madhura Sridhar?” Madhura Sridhar garu was also there with me and when Suresh Babu garu showed interest on film, Sridhar garu was very happy and said, “If Suresh Babu garu takes the film, it will have wider release, wider release and there is a lot of scope for making more profits. I am happy for you Raj garu.”

In how many screens Pelli Choopulu is releasing on 29th July?

Globally, Pelli Choopulu is releasing in 200-250 theatres. The film is releasing in USA, Australia and Singapore too with Subtitles.

The film has a bit of Malayalam flavour. Have you noticed that? Do you watch other language films?

Yes, I did observe that. The story itself is the interesting aspect of the film. The beginning, arrival of conflict point and the conversations came out very natural and I am sure that this concept will impress all. I watch a lot of Malayalam films and love their making style and story selection.

Do you have any plans to remake Pelli Choopulu in Tamil/Malayalam?

Given a chance, I wanted to remake the film in Hindi with a star like Ranbir Kapoor by collaborating with a popular production house like EROS. The film has a universal concept called Pelli Choopulu. Almost every where in India, Pelli Choopulu is very common. I am sure that the film can perform well if made in any language.

What do you think is the reason for Nayaki failure?

I liked the story of Nayaki. The concept of Ghost appearing in camera alone is something that excited me. We did not come across it in the past. This is the first reason for doing the film and the second reason is Trisha playing the lead role. She is a brilliant actress who has a good market. She is also doing an experiment for the first time. With the two reasons I did the film but our expectations have gone wrong and audiences rejected the film. Success and failure is common and Nayaki proved it again.

What things you consider when you are judging a script?

There is a simple logic which I follow. I visualize the film when the director is giving me a narration. If I feel that the audiences will be glued to the screens for the entire two and half hours I will immediately take up the project. These days, within the ten minutes of the films start, people are peeping heads on to their smart phones playing games or checking posts on Facebook. Films like Aakali Rajyam should come. Audiences should completely lost away with the characters of the film. I was very much disturbed when I watched Aakali Rajyam. It is the film that made me understand the definition of Cinema. If we watch a film today, it should haunt us even tomorrow. That’s the definition of a good film. In the current times, we are not even taking the film with us till the parking area.

Why there are no new stories in Telugu?

Honestly speaking, we are not looking out for the new stories. We lack patience. We are running after the formula and making the same film multiple times. We are decorating a thin plot line with Fight Scenes, Dances, Punch Dialogues, Foreign Locations and extra unnecessary stuff. Where is the place for story in this? I feel very sad whenever I visit few people in USA who think me as a film maker who run after the formula. They don’t understand it and argue that they have seen dancing Telugu stars on streets of the USA. Film making is my passion. Even though I lost money in films, I still fight for success because of that passion. I wanted to make films like Aakali Rajyam, Rudraveena and Pushpaka Vimanam.

Why cant we expect a change in the way stories are being selected?

I don’t think we can change this in any time soon. As long as the hero driven subjects get survival, we can not expect frequent content driven films.

Even after failing with Routine Forumla, why do Producers opt for the same again?

Because, producers can get back their investments easily with such films. Making a film with star hero is always a safe bet for the producers. The only people who suffer losses genuinely is distributors. We can not blame the producers also because film making is also a business and everyone wants profits. But the fact is that producers always end up with table profits for the big budgeted flicks.

Can you predict the fate of a film while shooting?

Not completely. No one can predict the success or a failure of the film. It all depends on several factors. But we can predict it after the morning show of a film. I predicted that Hrudaya Kaleyam will become a big hit after the morning show and what I expected became true in the end. So, as a producer we should be ready to face anything and should be prepared for both the success and failure. In my case, I am always a fighter!

I want to share my father’s words with you. Last year, around the same time my father said me that I am going to enjoy success in a year. Now, I am going to witness the success of Pelli Choopulu.

Where do you get energy after failure? People around you says that you spread a lot of love.

Many people who meets me compliments me the same. As I already said, I am always a fighter. I don’t want to depend on others. Once we start depending on others, we completely surrunder ourselves to them. I dont like that to happen for me. I do things on my own. I dont have a driver for my car too. If a film fails, the next thing I do is to look for another subject for success. If we lost here, we should gain it back here itself. Where else can we go? I believe in a saying, “If You Ever Find Yourself In Wrong Story, Leave.”

Tell us about the importance of promotions?

Promotions are very important for the films. If it is a big film, the scope for investment recovery will be high.

Whose idea is to screen Pelli Choopulu even before the film release?

It is Suresh Babu garu’s idea. I was worried initially but Suresh babu garu filled confidence in me. He said to take risk and make an experiment in promoting the film. The trust we have on our product made us to take this daring step.

Reveal some best compliments you received for the film so far!

My good friend and lyricist Sirasri called me and said that he was very jealous that he could not be a part of the project. Many other people from the industry also expressed the same. The best compliment came from Sirivennela Annayya. Sirivennela Annayya recently called me and said that many directors are telling great things about Pelli Choopulu to him. Annayya said that he was very much happy for me and questioned me why I didn’t approach him for at least a song in the film. Coming from a person like him is really overwhelming.

What are your next projects?

I have plans to team up with Tharun Bhascker and his team for the second time. Suresh Babu garu is also showing interest to work with them. If possible, both of us will collaborate for the project but nothing was finalized about it. Apart from this, I also signed another interesting film with one more short film maker. The film has a unique concept which will be announced after the release of Pelli Choopulu.

Also Read : Director Tharun Bhascker Interview : Journey of Pelli Choopulu

Team #CineBucket wishes a great box office success to Raj Kandukuri and team for #Pelli Choopulu. Here is the #CineBucket logo in #PelliChoopulu style.

cinebucket pellichoopulu style

cinebucket pellichoopulu style

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Interviews

Touch Chesi Chudu Villain Freddy In Conversation With Cinebucket

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Freddy Dharuwala is the Indian Bollywood model who turned actor. The theatre artist has been a part of a lot of interesting Bollywood movies and he is now making his Telugu debut with the film Touch Chesi Choodu. Touch Chesi Choodu stars Ravi Teja, Rashi Khanna and Seerat Kapoor in the lead roles. Freddy is very excited about his first Telugu Telugu film and Cine Bucket has caught up interviewing him during the promotions of the movie.

Tell us about your background?
I am from modelling background. I used to visit Hyderabad frequently and I am model. Later, I made my debut in Bollywood and constantly scored film opportunities.

How did you get the chance in the film Touch Chesi Choodu?
While working for my Bollywood film, the director Vikram Sirikonda approached me with this role. I met him and he narrated me the role I liked it and immediately accepted to be a part of this project.

Tell us about working with Ravi Teja.
Ravi Teja Garu is a fun loving person who is very much energetic on the sets. He is hardworking and is ever inspiring. I had a really great time working with him on the film sets. I will cherish the memory of working with him.

What was the initial thought when you were approached for this Telugu film.
Initially, I was very much happy when I was told that I am going to do a Telugu film. I always wanted to be a part of Telugu movie industry and finally, it happened with Touch Chesi Choodu.

Did you find any difference in the working styles between Telugu and Hindi industries?
I do not find any such differences. All I believe is that actor should not be limited to languages. I find that the Telugu films are a bit more in terms of commercial values and mass masala entertainers. I always wanted to be a part of such films and finally, Touch Chesi Choodu is helping me to realise my dream.

Tell us about the film’s producers.
The film’s producers are very patient and comfortable to work with. They have treated me very well and did not show any difference in south actor and north actor. I am happy to be working with their production.

Any memorable experiences from the sets?
All I could remember was the chase sequence that took place with me and Ravi Teja Garu. We shot it in the beautiful city Pondicherry and both of us had a great time. We had to run for almost 2-3 km and the chase has come out well. I had a great time that day working with Ravi Teja Garu.

How flexible is it working down the south?
I feel so good to be working in the south film industry. I want to be part of more films down south. I am eagerly looking forward to grabbing more offers after the release of this movie.

Have you been approached by other Telugu film producers?
As of now, no one has approached me but I am hoping that Touch Chesi Choodu will open new opportunities for me.

What are the Final words about Touch Chesi Choodu?
The film is surely going to be interesting action entertainer which will have a lot of fun. Don’t miss it.

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Interviews

Journey of Making a Successful Crowd Funding Film VASHAM : Interview with Director Challa Srikanth

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Vasham is the first ever crowd funded science thriller made in Indian film industry. Challa Srikanth is the director of this film. He is very much successful in completing this project in limited budget. Vasham is gearing up for a release on August 4th in theaters.

Here is what the director of Vasham, Challa Srikanth have to say about his crowd funding film Vasham. He shared many interesting things about the journey of vasham and the process of crowd funding.

vasham director challa srikanth interview

1. What is Vasham from your POV?

Vasham for me is two things, first is my love for movies, I wanted to tell a different story , a straight pure story..interlinking the concept of science and ancient spiritual knowledge. And two , my  first experiment in crowdfunding in telugu market, to understand the business perspective and I am sure I will make few more even if I work with production houses in future.
 

2. Did you work anywhere in the past?

My first film is a Hinglish feature ‘Song of Life’ I made in my college, and then I worked in pre production for ‘Minugurulu’ and then for a couple of years in Suresh productions and as a co-writer for Chandamama kathalu.
 

3. What is so special about this film?

We have very few films discussing science and philosophy, so the concept is something very fresh, I hope it reaches the students and personally first film is always special though it is very tough.
 

4. How did you convince yourself to go ahead to initiate crowd funding for the film?

This is the toughest question, and believe it or not, I just got this idea in a minute ,  but I could see the long persistent efforts I need to keep though and also the possibility of finishing it. I am very happy my investors really made this happen!!!
 

5. Tell us about how did the crowd funding idea start and tell us the entire process that you have gone through in attaining the funds.

It is the story, that actually made me to crowdfund the film, After finishing the first draft I really wanted to see the story on screen, because I liked what I read, so that gave the Idea, lets reveal some part of it and make people curious, they will also be a part of it!! 
 
Then came the idea of creating a platform, we decided to keep a website where people can download the script, names of the investors were also mentioned there, smallest ticket being 2.5 , and one lakh for producers Tag!!
 
Slowly we tried to spread the word, we got 10K script downloads, it started with friends and new people also joined slowly
 
They are all very good friends now, irrespective of the result most of them want to stay for my future projects as well. Must say I am lucky!!
 

6. How did you see this entire journey of Vasham?

2 and half years of efforts ( with no income!! ) Believe me I cant do this again ( the amount of effort ) , but this will be with me all my life, learnt a lot about film making, people .. Work teaches you the best lessons I think
 

7. Tell us about the experiences that you had from starting the project to till date.

a) Learning the craft of film making, nothing beats that! the experience cant be bought in any other way!
 
b) The joy of completing the task, this is the best experience, we shot everyday as planned.. the planning the Team put in is awesome.. and luck is also there, no rains, or any other natures obstacles came on our way..
 
While dubbing one guy fell sick for two months, I wondered how lucky I was , i can get it dubbed by someone else but cant shoot without him!
 
c) Handling people, almost 120 people invested in the project, I tried my best to update everyone, Heard no complaints from anyone!!
 
d) Finding my cinematographer is like a miracle, He messaged me once , I completely forgot about it but when he messaged again i checked his works and wondered how come no one knows about him when he can show such good showreels!! Then I came to know he worked for Anil mehta camera department, he even worked with Majid Majidi for ‘Beyond the Clouds’ after completing Vasham
 

9. What do you think are the highlights of the film?

Climax!! , BGM and the set up is very fresh..  
 

10. How tough is it to make a film in Telugu without any support or background?

It was very tough for me, my first film is releasing after working for 8 years in Industry.. But then I know enough talented people who are seniors to me and yet to get a chance!
 

11. How important is it to convince the distributors and how did you manage that?

I am lucky in this case, My manager, executive producer became such a close friend, that he handled all the stuff, else it would have been a very big struggle. I owe him a lot for releasing this film.
 

12. With your experience so far, what do you tell the budding filmmakers?

Honestly I am just a starter and I just started to work for my next project.. but working here for some 8 years, I have few points to add, 1) Just don’t enter for name and money, the percentage is very less, And I know many talented guys waiting for a chance and are struggling to survive 2) And you will meet real insensitive people, Someone said” Your father doesn’t raise you right” and one more said ” Had he been my son I would have thrashed him”.. As much as you feel like thrashing this scum, you simply have to smile and try to escape and of course not to mention those free suggestions from absolute outsiders.. 3) Hard work, you should be ready to work hard, sometimes days together.. there wont be fixed timings, Imagine watching a product hundreds of times , and the release issues, unless you have great patience and man management skills you cant survive!!!..and hell yeah stay away from people who just keep blabbering without doing anything.. If you are fine with all this.. then think of choosing this career
 

13. What are your upcoming projects?

I am eagerly waiting to find a producer to work on a commercial film and in parallel I am working on another crowd invested project , 400 slots each slot worth 1Lakh to make a Chak-de type movie with cricket back drop.. I am a big fan of sports movies!!
 

14. What is the word that you would like to give for the audiences who are coming to see the film.

Love!!!
 
Watch the film in your nearest theaters on August 4th. Encourage small films and help many more to come. Wishing the entire team of Vasham for a great success.
 
Here is the trailer of Vasham.

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