‘It is easier to make a film than to release it’
... says director Jai, who is relieved that his film Andhra Mess finally gets a release three years after completion
Director Jai, whose film, Andhra Mess is up for release tomorrow, did not take the short film route most aspiring filmmakers do. He has an advertising background instead, and has done close to 700 ad films. “Andhra Mess falls under the dark-humor genre,” says Jai, adding, “It’s a psychological travel of four small-time crooks who just want to while away each day. When their head Marudhu (played by artist AP Shreethar) makes a decision, their four lives go for a toss; that’s what the film is about. Everyone in the film has a negative shade to them but it’s all laced with humour.”
The film marks the acting debut of renowned artist AP Shreethar, who has done paintings of personalities such as Kamal Haasan and APJ Abdul Kalam. Andhra Mess also stars Raj Bharath, who played the villain in Onaayum Aattukkuttiyum, along with Thejaswini, Pooja Devariya, and Vinodh Munna of Idharkuthane Aasaipattai Balakumara fame. The director heaps praise on Thejaswini. “She has played minor roles in films like Thani Oruvan, and here, she has done the female lead. When I saw her portfolio, I was impressed with her expressive eyes. Hers is a powerful character. Even the hero doesn’t have an entry scene, but she does. She’ll go places after this film,” says Jai, who is equally pleased with the rest of his cast. “Raj Bharath has acting in his genes as he’s the son of veteran filmmaker Malliyam Rajagopal (of Savaale Samali fame). He is very passionate about the craft and is a director’s delight. Pooja, on the other hand, is very energetic, and every time we were tired, we would just have to talk with her for a while to get revitalised.”
Jai feels he’s lucky to have worked with a bunch of passionate people. “It’s an ensemble cast and we’ve intentionally stuck to new faces predominantly. All the characters have an irony to them which will be a lot of fun. There is no hero or heroine in this film; they’re all characters. One role might look heroic in one shot and show dark shades in the next,” adds the director.
The shooting of Andhra Mess was wrapped up by the end of 2015, and the trailer released in 2016. But the film is only getting released now, three years later. “We started filming at a time when the industry was very welcoming. Satellite rights were a big deal back then and it was a solid platform for a film made around a budget of one and a half crore to make returns. While shooting the film though, these trends faded and we were in trouble. It’s a mix of emotions now, to be honest, as it’s more of a baby that we’ve carried mentally and psychologically for all these days. It was traumatic, but we didn’t lose hope and we’re glad the D day is finally here,” says Jai, who goes on to explain the troubles of a small-time filmmaker.
“With the way our industry is these days, it’s easier to make a film than to release it. The demand of buyers has changed over the years. We had to face all the issues any small film would face,” he adds. “But luckily, despite coming three years after our intended release, people who’ve seen the film say it looks fresh. People are talking about it online, they’re curious about it, and they’re even comparing the film with other successful ones.”
Ask him what’s next and Jai says, “I’ve committed to another project and Raj Bharath will once again play the lead in it. An official confirmation can be expected soon.”