Sreekanth Addala: We will definitely miss a total theatre experience
Director Sreekanth Addala speaks about his upcoming film Narappa, premiering on July 20 on Amazon Prime Video
Looks like you have made a departure from your feel-good family drama whirl to a mass action entertainer...
Of course, yes (laughs). It's going to be a transition of sorts for sure. However, the film will not miss the light-heartedness and relies heavily on the emotional quotient. I am confident that Narappa stays true to the soul and intention of the original, Asuran. I am thrilled with the overwhelming response to our film's trailer and I am looking forward to the digital premiere.
Was the transition difficult?
I would place Narappa as a family drama. The only difference between my previous films and this one is that the latter is loaded with high-voltage action. But the action happens due to a conflict or unrest in the family. So it is where my strength lies in and perhaps, which is why I choose to take up this remake. One has to face his own set of challenges in doing so.
Is Narappa a frame-to-frame remake of Asuran?
As a director, I know remaking a classic like Asuran is going to be a challenge but one that I want to take on. So I chose to retain the psyche and soul of Asuran and didn't let myself deviate from the original. Narappa, however, offers a different experience, as it is rooted in our nativity. While the locations were the same for the action sequences, we have changed the backdrop to Ananthapuram. We shot in Anantapuram for 14 days because we find such setups only in that region. I am sure the emotions will be conveyed as it is and the nativity shows only in the dialogues and the performances of Venkatesh garu, Priyamani garu and others.
What is your opinion about the release of Narappa on an OTT platform?
I would be lying if I say I am not disappointed. Not just me, even Venkatesh garu was extremely disappointed. We never expected it. It is no secret that we made Narappa for theatrical viewing. Be the sound technique, casting, picturisation, and the locations, everything was finalised keeping the theatrical release in mind. It was (producer) Kalaippuli S Thanu's call and I understand he had taken this decision after weighing a lot of options amidst the pandemic. When I was informed of the OTT release, I couldn't sleep for the next two days. We made the film on a lavish scale, but the uncertainty has made us choose the best. We will definitely miss a total theatre experience.
The cast is like a dream come true. Tell us about the experience of working with Venkatesh and Priyamani.
Venky sir has put his heart and soul into this film. We managed to shoot under the scorching sun at a stretch for 58 days before the lockdown, as the film was supposed to release in 2020. He never complained and believed in the film. He was completely involved in the process and told me he never worked like this in his career.
His transformation in portraying a 60-year-old to a fiery young man was mind-blowing. His costumes, look and body language were totally different for the older role, while he lost a few kilos and has looked dapper for the younger part. His performance in a scene where he cries his heart out remembering his dead son was brilliant. Similarly, his rage during the flashback fight gives you goosebumps. It's certainly an award-winning performance and you will get to see him in never-before-seen avatars.
Priyamani garu, too, excelled in her part. When I watched Asuran, I couldn't think of any other actor to portray Sundaramma. The reason is her simplicity and the way she gets into the skin of a character. If you watch Paruthiveeran (2007) for which she was awarded the National Film Award for Best Actress, you will understand it.
Any clues about your new project?
I am committed to directing a trilogy for Geetha Arts. It is set in the '70s and will be made on a huge canvas. The pre-production has begun and we will make further announcements soon.
What are your views on the OTT boom?
We are certainly in the best phase of filmmaking. There is no dearth of talent and these platforms are certainly creating more opportunities for many filmmakers. If you have the talent, determination, and good scripts ready, you can make the cut.