Sundeep Kishan: I am driven by a constant desire to prove detractors wrong
…says Sundeep Kishan, who hopes to reverse his fortunes with his upcoming Tamil-Telugu bilingual by Caarthick Raju
Actor Sundeep Kishan steps into production duties too with Ninu Veedani Needanu Nene (NVNN) the Telugu version of Kannadi. Directed by Caarthick Raju, the bilingual, slated for release this Friday, also features Anya Singh as the female lead. "A senior producer in the Telugu industry asked me to give up acting and suggested that some of my recent outings didn’t work at the box office. I am driven by a constant desire to prove detractors wrong," says Sundeep Kishan, as he talks about...
Excerpts from the interview:
The industry has been seeing a lot of formulaic horror comedies. How different is this bilingual going to be?
Honestly, I never thought I would end up doing a horror film. It is my belief that actors don’t get enough scope to perform in the genre. However, I enjoyed watching Prema Katha Chitram, Ekkadaki Pothavu Chinnavada and Gruham, films with novel story lines. I was excited when Caarthick narrated the script and connected many layers of the film. This is a film of many genres; the narrative keeps changing every 20 minutes. You have horror, sci-fi, emotions and drama to engage viewers. The story begins in 2043 and flips between the future and the present. It's difficult to conceptualise how buildings and communication systems look at that time. We have used smartwatches, holograms and other elements to bring about that novelty.
Do you see the constant changing of genres in the film, as a risk?
The strong emotional content will keep the audience glued to the story. The tonal shifts will also be organic, and not forced. I can confidently say that the screenplay of Caarthick Raju will set a benchmark.
Was it hard shooting in two languages?
I am a Telugu guy, raised in Tamil Nadu for a few years. I have worked across languages, including Telugu, Tamil and Hindi, and have an idea about the differing sensibilities. So, no, it wasn’t tough to act and produce this film. We have invested two years of our time on this film and made changes to both versions. The character played by Vennela Kishore in Telugu is done by Karunakaran in Tamil. Even the editors are different. Chota K Prasad has done it in Telugu while Praveen KL has taken care of the Tamil film.
How have you treated both versions differently?
We have taken cultural differences into account. For instance, if I have to visit a temple, we have made sure that the setting of the temple and the attire I wear is relevant for both regions. Also, the treatment of the second half of the film will be different in both versions. The Tamil version relies more on emotions, while the Telugu version will have more commercial elements. They say a bilingual can't be successful in both languages. I think our film will break that streak.
Did you get to rehearse for your scenes with Karunakaran and Vennela Kishore?
I would have loved to but we didn't have the liberty to rehearse as both Karunakaran and Kishore are busy actors. Also, Caarthick Raju has great clarity of vision. For instance, we had little difficulty shooting for the VFX-heavy sequences as he knew what he was doing; also his experience as a graphic designer came in handy.
What do your attribute your recent modest run of films to?
I made a few mistakes and decided to go slow. There were instances when I knew my films weren’t coming out well, but I am in a helpless situation by then. Had I been the producer of such films, I would have the freedom to spend more and convince my director to go for re-shoots. In fact, I slipped almost into depression and moved away to the US for two months to overcome all the stress.
Any plans to make this film in Hindi?
A renowned production house has snapped up the remake rights and will make a formal announcement on our collaboration soon. And no, I’m not playing the lead role there (laughs).
I have completed shooting for an Amazon Original web series called The Family Man, by Raj Nidimoru and Krish DK. I play a commando in it, and it also features Manoj Bajpayee in an important role. I’m also doing a Telugu comedy titled Tenali Ramakrishna BA BL in G Nageswara Reddy’s direction. It’s in the last leg of production. I also have an anthology called Kasada Thapara lined up for release in Tamil.
(With inputs from Navein Darshan)