Gunasekhar is one of those gifted filmmakers who has a different vision in the midst of many commercial directors in Tollywood. Though he has a unique artistic taste, he knows the perfect recipe for a commercial entertainer. The director has taken up a biggest challenge of his life by doing Rudramadevi- a film based on historic epic story of Warrior Queen. After lot of delays, the film is finally hitting the screens on 9th October. Here is an iQlik exclusive chitchat with the director:
Hello Gunasekhar garu..
How did you get the idea of making Rudramadevi as a film in first place?
I was greatly interested in the story of Queen Rudramadevi during the nondetail lessons in my 8th Standard. However, I had no idea that I would be a filmmaker then. But I was greatly inspired by the Hollywood movie Braveheart during the days I was working as an assistant director. I wanted to see our own Warrior Queen Rudramadevi’s story also made on such a grand scale. I wanted to do Rudramadevi after Okkadu but things got postponed till now. But my research team was working since nine years to get a perfect script.
There is a comment in film fraternities that the budget for Rudramadevi went out of control?
Honestly, I didn’t think that the budget went overboard. I went by my instincts and started this project with my calculation.
You had problems to find a producer for this film. Did you have difficulties by producing such a big film yourself?
Yes. Nobody could dare make this script in such a big canvas. I turn got suggestions to knit my story around Gona Ganna Reddy character but I was more interested in Rudhramadevi's story. Rudramadevi is a film which is to be made by huge banners like AVM but finally I decided to produce to on my own.
Rudramadevi’s story is quite old and did you take the cinematic liberty and make any changes?
I didn’t manipulate any part of the history. However, there are different versions in each standard book but I followed the authentic sculptures of Kakatiya Dynasty for my story.
You did show the Warrior Queen Rudramadevi in a glamorous manner.. going by the trailer and posters!
Well, Rudramadevi is a beautiful and courageous woman and naturally she would be shown beautiful in her younger years. We didn’t show her modern or anything but to suit the Kakatiya dynasty times.
Is there any specific reason to make Rudramadevi in 3D?
Making a film in 3D is really a burden. But such a chance comes quite rare and that’s why I got into it. If not in 3D, Rudramadevi would have been wrapped up at a much lower budget and released last year itself. But I wanted to give the audience a memorable experience. I even did a course in 3D in London for this film and had to work with limited indegenous technicians with 3D knowledge. I admit making Rudramadevi in 3D was the biggest risk I took in my life.
Was there any specific reason to cast Anushka in the lead role?
I honestly didn’t think of Anushka for this role initially because I felt her Arundhati image would overshadow this character. But kudos to her commitment and hard work. I am happy to have taken the right decision and without Anushka, Rudhramadevi is unimaginable.
How about casting Allu Arjun’s as Gona Ganna Reddy?
Bunny came to help me in a very tough situation I was facing. Being a star hero, he approached me asking me if he can do anything for me. I am really glad to have him as a part of this film and his presence will be there for 50 minutes.
Mahesh and Jr.NTR were also considered for Gona Ganna Reddy role. Why not them?
Mahesh knew the story much before. We used to discuss a lot about the project and even Jr.NTR too but due to their prior commitments, they were not able to be a part of Rudhramadevi. But I'm more than happy with Bunny's performance.
How about Nitya Menon being a part of this film?
I initially had another actress for the role she did but I wasn’t happy with the result. I immediately approached Nitya and she readily gave dates. She is a terrific performer and I'm thankful to her.
Do you think VFX will be a biggest attraction for the film?
I think the real attraction for the film is the story. We followed the facts and wanted to tell the novel story of Rudhramadevi to the audience. VFX is just a part of the film which is used till required.
How do you look at the idea of taking great risks?
Well, most of my directing career is filled with risks. My first film Laati was a flop and then I made a totally different movie Ramayanam with kids, a unique mythological film of those times. My film Choodalani Undhi was the first Telugu film with DTS mixing and Sainikudu was the film that used fullfleged DI technology for the first time. So, everytime I started something, there was criticism but I kept taking risks at every note of my life so far. I believe that everyone should take risks in a calculated manner.
How was the working experience with Maestro Ilaiyaraaja for the first time?
I am really happy to have worked with him. He was greatly inspired by the story that he personally called up some Tamil producers and recommended them Rudhramadevi. The background score for this film was done in London and is completely out of the world. It was a memorable and blessed journey with him.
What was the exact reason for repeated postponements of Rudramadevi?
The only reason for postponement was to refine 3D work. The actual shooting and re-recording of the film completed long back.
There is a buzz that you would make a sequel for Rudramadevi named Pratapa Rudrudu?
I do have the thought but I am not sure about it right now.
How was it working with legendary film people like Neeta Lulla for costumes and Thota Tharani for sets?
They are educated individuals who came into films with passion. Both these people earned national awards for their work in their respective fields. Thota Tharani has been my regular since Choodalani Undhi days. It is a privilege to work with them.
How did you manage as a Director and Producer of a magnum opus like this?
I owe a lot to my wife Neelima and family for their continual support throughout. Their patience knew no bounds! With thier support only, I could focus on my work and largely remained a director than a producer.
Wishing you the best for Rudramadevi!