'Niharika is Perfect for Oka Manasu'-Director Ramaraju Interview

By - June 22, 2016 - 03:29 PM IST

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Out of many modern directors in Tollywood now, Ramaraju occupies a special place. His feel good film Mallela Teeramlo Sirimalle Poovu earned him the brilliant feedback for its classiness and realistic characterizations. Now, he has got the chance to direct Mega Princess Niharika Konidela for her debut film Oka Manasu which also has Naga Shaurya in the lead role. The film’s audio has already become a good hit and on the eve of its release this week, here is an iQlik exclusive chitchat with the director:
Hi.. Congratulations on your new film Oka Manasu!
Hi..Thank you!

How did the project start off?
I approached TV9 initially with the story of Oka Manasu and they referred me to Madhura Sridhar for it. He came to know about the project and suggested Niharika Konidela for the role of Sandhya in the film. By that time, there was a buzz about Niharika making the big debut. So things happened in its own accord.

When did you realize that Niharika would be right for the role?
The moment I saw her there was a spark of Sandhya’s character from the film. She adopted to my way of narration flawlessly and did 100% justice to her role. She will be seen as a doctor in this film.

How about Naga Shaurya?
He is perfect for the role of Surya. I am totally fortunate to have Naga Shaurya for this film.

How different is Oka Manasu compared to your earlier films?
Well, I had limited budget for Mallela Teeram lo Sirimalle Puvvu and couldn’t provide the perfect cinematic experience in it. But this film isn’t like that. I had complete freedom and no budget constraints. We shot the entire film in Vizag. Though many films showed this beautiful city, I am confident that Oka Manasu showed the city in fresh look.

Did you get the feeling Niharika stealing more limelight than the anyone in the project?
The limelight factor is obvious but my aim is that the film should reach more people. So, it is totally fine and we don’t mind taking backseat.

How do you deal with the expectations of fans and demands of industry?
My only focus is on the story and I prefer not to take too much pressure about narration. I can say fans would get newfound respect for Niharika after Oka Manasu.

Did you have any regrets about your films till date?
I wanted to keep the title Mallela Teeram for my earlier film but the distributors felt the title was too soft for a Telugu film. They insisted I change it to Mallela Teeram Lo Sirimalle Puvvu. I was sure that audience will not find any significance to the title but had to do it.

How about Oka Manasu? Did you make any crucial changes against your will?
Fortunately things went smooth for Oka Manasu. The title is perfect for the film.

About your producers TV9 and Madhura Sreedhar?
I’m glad to have got producers like TV9 and Madhura Sreedhar. I must thank TV9 for introducing me to Madhura Sreedhar for this project. He never asked me the story and had complete belief in my work. In short, he looked after me like a son rather than a director. Above all he is a great human being and I adore him for that!

Do you think current generation can connect to Oka Manasu?
Love is a universal feeling and beyond class or mass audience. I am very confident that it would be liked by all sections of audience.

The teasers and trailers have a faint Mani Ratnam influence?
Yes I admire Mani Ratnam’s work but at the same time I don’t obsessively watch films. My films reflect my life. Mani Ratnam has totally changed the way Ooty was supposed to look with this film Geethanjali. Till then many people showed the same location but the vibrant colours were best seen in this film. The effect of location in storytelling is what I learnt from Geethanjali.

What about Chalam influence in your stories?
I really adore Chalam’s ideology and also admire Ramana Maharshi and Osho. That is why their references happen in my films.

Your path as a director is somehow different from the usual commercial path. How do you plan to survive in the industry?
I personally think there is always life for good films and we need to get back to our roots. Telugu audience are always open for new kind of films otherwise we wouldn’t be admiring other language films such as Premam or Sairat. I am quite aware that Cinema isn’t an art form alone and huge business is involved!

How do you define yourself before and after Mallela Teeram lo Sirimalle Puvvu?
To stay straight, I was mentally a  virgin without any materialistic egos or opinions and living my own life. But now I admit I have become corrupt (Laughs).

Did you have any formal training in filmmaking?
No. In one way it is a huge handicap for me. I don’t have the confidence to approach a producer with full bound script because of my script writing limitations. My only strength is innate ability to narrate.

Do you plan to work with Mega heroes anytime in the future?
I haven’t planned anything as of now but if happens it’s well and good!

Upcoming projects?
Nothing finalized yet.  I am kind of eager to see the result of Oka Manasu as of now!

Okay..thanks and wish you the best for Oka Manasu!
Thank You..

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