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Director Raaja Kiran (born Balaji) is a happy man after the success of his unique Horror Comedy Geethanjali which released recently. But, there is almost a 14yr struggle behind this happiness. There are humiliations, depressions, vexations and also patience, perseverance, never ending hope, never give up attitude and dexterous efforts behind this happiness. He did not have a dream walk in the showbiz but he had all his dreams coming true one by one. This photographer turned filmmaker kept telling his heart tugging story and we just kept listening with awe. Here is an exclusive interview of Raaja Kiran for you…
Hello Raaja Kiran... Congratulations on the success of Geethanjali!
(Smiles) Thanks a lot!

Please tell us about your background…
I hail from Kaikaluru but I had my education in KJRL College, Bheemavaram where comedian M.S. Narayana used to be working as a lecturer. I was inspired by his entry into film industry. Then, I was bitten by the filmmaking bug. I worked as a film operator owing to my sincere interest towards Films back in Kailkaluru and Bheemavaram. Later with well-wisher’s suggestions, I established a Photo studio.

How come you made into this industry being a small time photographer?
During my Photo Studio days, I met erstwhile MP and Producer Maganti Babu. He introduced me to EVV and I worked as still photographer for some of his films. EVV’s brother Sreenu suggested me to join direction department in order to pursue my dream instead of continuing as a still photographer. Hence, I began my career as an assistant director with Choosoddam Randi in 2000. I was promoted to the level of Associate director with Jr NTR’s Ninnu Choodalani under Ushakiron Movies.  Meanwhile, I worked for the popular Neralu Ghoralu programme in ETV as well. Eenadu group encouraged me a lot and I had my first agreement signed with Ushakiron Movies in the year 2004 only but that did not materialize. Later yet another script also got locked with some other a producer. Right from then I was trying to become a full time director and it was possible with Geethanjali after a decade!
How did the idea of Geethanjali come to you and how did it materialize?
Those were the days of vexation and out of that, I happened to go to a grave yard near Krishna Kanth Park and there used to be many apartments close to the grave yard. That is where, the idea of Geethanjali struck me! For more authentic feel, I went to a Christian Cemetery in Secunderabad too. I initially named the film To-Let.  In fact, Geethanjali story went to around 6 production houses. PVP production house wanted to take a third party opinion on the script from dialogue writer Kona Venkat. He was very impressed with the script and when things from PVP got delayed, he himself took initative and produced the film.  
What is the reason behind choosing a horror comedy as your first film?
I prefer concept oriented films than commercial cinema always. I used to do Neralu Ghoralu in ETV and then I had the experience of dealing with different crime and scary stories at that time. Many appreciated this program. I felt like writing a crime or horror related story then. That was how a complete concept based film like Geethanjali came up.
You were hospitalized before the release of this film. What really happened?
I did my first agreement in 2004 as director. Till now some or other hurdle came up but suddenly when this film was getting on well quite opposite to my previous experience, I wasn’t sure about the film’s progress. Until the shooting date confirmed, I wasn’t able to believe. But during the post-production phase, popular technician DTS Radha Krishna watched the film and said that it was excellent and assured me about the success.  But suddenly when censor troubles came in, I was in severe stress and was admitted to hospital with a slight chest pain. It was just exaggerated.

You worked with artists like Srinivasa Reddy, Kona Venkat, Anjali and Brahmanandam- if there is one line you can tell about them, what is it?

- After watching Dhee, I always thought of working with Kona Venkat. I am delighted to have him as producer for my first film…may be that is destiny!
- About Brahmanandam, I would be very less to talk about him! But he knows what the audience need. You need to just tell him the scene; he would turn it into a stellar.
- Anjali is a very good artist and I always wanted to do my first film with a big heroine. My wish fulfilled with her presence.
- I had many objections when I proposed the name Srinivasa Reddy. But he was an additional asset for the film and he proved me right!

Memorable experience after release of your debut film Geethanjali, that too after so many hurdles and tensions?
I always yearned that my film’s first day release should be house full. Believe it or not, that happened! I went to Vishwanath theatre in Kukatpally with my friends and was surprised to see it house full. Then I went to Devi 70MM and it was House Full there too. If the film gets a House Full in Devi, the film is sure shot it! The talk during the interval was phenomenal and it was completely positive. There is nothing more rewarding that that. I had immense trust in my story and I wasn’t surprised with the success! But it is always a treasuring memory when people appreciate your work.

Do you think you got the right break with this film? What is your comment on people calling it as a Kona Venkat’s film?
Frankly, Kona Sir used to come for Brahmanandam’s shooting episodes alone. He gave few inputs which were extended by the team. This script was told to five producers earlier and they liked it and approved too. So, it is a proved script and it is totally a myth that Kona Venkat directed this film. It is completely my film and writing. Of course, his dialogues were an additional asset.
But what kept you going in the industry for such long time even after everything kept bombing?
I never knew or would know other work apart from Cinema. It was like a do-or-die situation for me. I searched rigorously for opportunities. Whatever story I write was never rejected till now. That is my only confidence. I thought someday, someone will definitely connect to my stories and after many years, my theory worked and Kona Sir was the one for me!

So when can we expect a commercial film from you?
No! As said earlier, I prefer concept oriented films to commercial cinema. For me, story is the hero. Filmmakers like Balachander, K. Vishwanath are my inspirations. But I will do one family entertainer starring a big hero.

Would it be with Jr.NTR as you know him already?
Not really. We thought of working earlier but it will not be Jr NTR now.

Your upcoming produced?
I am going to announce a film under a good banner with a renowned hero. I cannot disclose any further but can tell you that this film will be hyped from day one for its themeline. I did have some bitter experiences while promotion of Geethanjali which I would rather not disclose. As for me, this second film would be more crucial to be established as a good director and I’m working towards that.

Okay..Thanks a lot and wishing you the best for upcoming films!
Thank you!

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