Director G Surya Teja: Journey towards the debut
The director discusses the making of Focus, his stint in advertising and his love for thrillers
Management graduate G Surya Teja moved to Hyderabad 12 years ago for the love of cinema. Wanting to make concept-based films, he turned to ad film direction to satisfy his creative urge. In the process, he worked closely with the police department of Telangana and directed over 200 advertisements that spread awareness about road safety and security of women. He also worked as an associate director for over a dozen films, including Nani-starrer Jersey and has now taken a plunge as a director with a crime thriller titled Focus.
“It is a unique murder-mystery that revolves around an investigation into the truth behind the murder of a Superintendent of Police, who was killed days before his wife took the oath as the Chief Justice of the High Court. The narrative is racy and ensures there's a twist every five minutes,” reveals the young director, who hails from Karimnagar.
Surya grew up watching and admiring the work of Christopher Nolan and asserts that his film is a blend of his artistic sensibilities and local flavour. “I always looked up to Nolan, who is popular for noirish visual aesthetic and unconventional, often highly conceptual narratives. I have learned many aspects of filmmaking as his ekalavya sishya," says Surya.
Focus stars Vijay Shankar, Ashu Reddy, Sowjanya and Muskan Arora in the lead roles. The film also brings Suhasini Mani Ratnam and Bhanu Chander together after the 1987 legal drama Lawyer Suhasini. He credits the veteran actors for carrying off their roles effectively. “Suhasini and Bhanu Chander play a wife and husband in the film. While she plays a judge, Bhanu Chander will be seen as the superintendent of police. They have done a fabulous job,” says Surya.
He particularly sings praises for Suhasini. “It was a dream to have her in my film. Her support during the production has been remarkable and she is the pillar of our film. Being a senior actor, she carries herself with elegance and remains grounded all the time. A scene required her to change 13 costumes for every 20 minutes and she didn’t hesitate for a minute to do it. That speaks volumes about her professionalism and accentuates her love for cinema,” reminiscences Surya.
It took Surya eight months to write the script, but the film took only 37 days to take shape. “It was a bound script and we went to production with every minute detail and extensive planning. It was shot in Hyderabad, Vikarabad, and other parts of Telangana," he explains.
About what inspired him to do Focus, he says, “The story stems from my real life observations. Also, my journey with several top cops, who solved major crimes, gave me a lot of insights to write this story. There’s a popular saying in the department: ‘To catch a thief you have to think like a thief.’ So to solve a case, a problem has to be identified in different ways. The film highlights all these aspects and stands as a testament to the crime solving skills.”
Focus is a litmus test for Surya Teja, but he exudes confidence and shares, “Focus has all the ingredients of a successful crime thriller and stands a good chance of resonating with all sections of the audience. The content would not be heavy or serious but the narration enables the audience to think logically.”
He adds, “You will realise it when you leave the theatres not when you are seeing the film because you will be completely taken over by the content while watching.”
Surya's next film features Viswant Duddumpudi in the lead role. "It is a romantic thriller that is being made on a pan-India scale. We are planning to take the film onto the sets in June. Also, I am in talks with a popular actor for my third film. It's a story that has never been told in Indian cinema," signs off the director.