Akella Peri Srinivas: For the love of cinema
The debutant director-producer talks about what it’s like to finally realise his long-cherished filmmaking dream with the upcoming Premaku Raincheck
Akella Peri Srinivas, an Osmania University graduate, is an investment banker and the director of a corporate organisation who has worked closely with several MNCs. Even while in these demanding professions, his love for filmmaking was always something he intended to address. Now, at the age of 51, he decided to embark on his first directorial — and production — with a rom-com, Premaku Raincheck. “I am not connected with the industry in any way, except as a viewer. I watch and look forward to all the new releases, like any film buff. I have spent a significant part of my time watching films, absorbing it all, and making a note of all the filmmaking intricacies,” he says, citing Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Majboor (1974) as an inspiration for his decision to work behind the camera as a director and writer.
Interestingly, his first script was completed more than ten years ago in 2005. “I interacted with those in the industry for a few years to explore possibilities. I also did thorough research to understand how stories are created. Finally, it was in 2015 that I decided to step into filmmaking,” he says. Srinivas explains that a film is driven by three main elements — character, conflict and resolution. “If we execute these three aspects perfectly, it gives a sense of fulfilment and the film has a good chance of ending up as a blockbuster.”
Premaku Raincheck, he says, is an attempt to be ‘truthful to the craft’. “I decided not to manipulate the audience by categorising the film as a class, mass or family fare. I see cinema as an art form and have immense respect for it. For three years, I worked on a story that stemmed from my real-life observations,” he says and elaborates more on what he unearthed from his research. “I have understood that no one is inherently good or bad; it is the situations that make them so. I explored the mindset of millennials and created each character with a unique personality.”
Interestingly, he reveals that the film doesn’t have a negative character. “I haven’t directed this film to impress or convince anyone. It is born out of a desire to tell a story to the best of my understanding of the craft,” says Srinivas.
Much of the story takes place in the backdrop of an adventure sports company, and the film has been shot in places like Hyderabad, Uttarakhand, Kolkata and Mumbai. “The protagonist is a career-minded young man, who is steadfast in his decision not to mix his professional and personal life. My heroine is a Starbucks fangirl, who is confident of her choices. Their ideological conflicts form the crux of Premaku Raincheck. The film doesn’t preach, and offers entertainment that can appeal to all age groups.”
Srinivas shares that the team had a lot of fun shooting the adventure sports portions. “But as the director and producer of the film, I also had to be careful to ensure everyone undertook necessary safety precautions before doing these portions,” he says.
The cast is predominantly comprised of newcomers, with Abhilash Vadada, Priya Vadlamani and Mounika Thavanam in the lead. Srinivas’s only prerequisite was that all of them speak Telugu and English fluently. “I went through profiles for eight months before roping in these actors. We did a three-month workshop before kickstarting proceedings, and they all have understood the emotions and dubbed for themselves.”
Srinivas claims to have avoided some conventional pitfalls and made the film as visually appealing as possible. “I wanted every sequence and song to look likeable on screen. The colour palettes, songs, lyrics and costumes have all been used to this effect. Cinematographer Sarath Guruvugari and music composer Deepak Kiran were wonderful in getting the aesthetics right.”
His association with producer Sharath Marrar, he says, cannot be understated. “His decision to present my film came as a pleasant surprise to me. He gave me complete creative freedom. He pushed the envelope when needed and got us to some wonderful locations in Uttarakhand and Kolkata — especially for the scene showing the heroine talking over the phone in a close-up with the Howrah bridge in the backdrop. That is one of my favourite shots in the film,” he says.
Srinivas has many dreams, but with Premaku Raincheck, he feels he has fulfilled one. All his energy is now focussed on getting the film a proper release. “I will think about my career prospects only based on the reception to this film. Let the film do the talking. Now I need to wait and see how the audience reacts to the film on August 23.”