'I haven’t directed Mouname Ishtam to impress anyone'
...says Ashok Kumar Koralath, the art director-turned-filmmaker, who talks about what went into the making of his upcoming new-age love story
It took three decades for renowned art director Ashok Kumar Koralath, who set a benchmark in Telugu cinema with his creativity in films like Bobbili Raja, Okkadu, Indra, and Arundhati, to dive into the world of filmmaking. The five-time Nandi award winner, who also designed the title logo for Simha -- the Telangana State film awards, has directed and produced a new-age love story titled Mouname Ishtam.
“My grandfather PN Menon and uncle Bharathan were renowned directors in Malayalam cinema. Although I started off as an art director, my family always wanted me to take up direction. I believe Mouname Ishtam is the kind of a film I wanted to debut with, and credit goes to Suresh Gadiparthi for penning a soulful story.”
On being asked what took him so long to direct a film despite being in the industry for three decades, he explains, “It’s difficult to make a transition from one craft to another. The challenges in making a movie are plenty. As an art director, you don't get judged for your job as not many people can decode a scene from a sketch. When your job is done, you detach from it. Whereas as a director, you are part of everything -- right from finalising the script to the promotional campaign. It's a full-time job. But it has its own satisfaction, and I must say, that excitement is exceptional.”
He has set up a production house, AK Movies, and made this film. Looking back at the struggle, Ashok recalls, “Like everyone else, I wanted my film to be backed by a big production house. I narrated a few scripts to several people including 'Usha Kiron Movies' Ramoji Rao. But they had their own perceptions of how a film should be and came up with other suggestions. So my debut got delayed, but my passion increased after every meeting. As no one came forward to produce the film, I decided to do it myself without compromising on the quality of work.”
Ashok avers that he never thinks about success when he embarks on a project, and his focus lies on giving his best. And this confidence has made him cast newcomers Ram Karthik and Parvathi Arun in lead roles in Mouname Ishtam. “I felt newcomers would ideally fit the subject and it's an attempt to bring in freshness in every aspect of the film. Also, I want to be the face of my film and I like to take complete responsibility for its outcome,” reveals Ashok.
On choosing a youthful entertainer for his debut directorial, he says, “You relate with the characters more easily if it's a love story. The film is about a village boy and a city-born girl, who are poles apart, raised in different settings, who still manage to fall for each other. We shot the film in Hyderabad, Kerala, Rajahmundry and Pochampally. Actor Nasser essayed a crucial role. The release is scheduled for March 15.”
Ashok is excited to have received a positive response from Suresh Babu Daggubati, who watched the film’s first copy. “He is my first film’s (Bobbili Raja) producer. He liked the film and questioned me about how I intend to bring people to the theatres. I know it's difficult to market a film these days, but I haven’t directed this film to impress anyone. I’m looking for creative satisfaction and I will invest all my energies to promote it.”
While he has many ideas, with Mouname Ishtam, the debutant director feels he has fulfilled his long-time wish. “I want to direct an art film, but I know it is going to be really difficult to find a producer or distributor for such films. But I don't want to stop here. I will continue doing working hard and let time decide things for me,” signs off Ashok.