Bharat Ane Nenu director Koratala Siva says Mahesh Babu-starrer isn't a typical political drama
After beginning his career as a writer, Koratala Siva turned director with Prabhas, Anushka Shetty-starrer Mirchi in 2013, and then he went on to make Srimanthudu with Mahesh Babu and Janatha Garage with Jr NTR and Mohanlal playing the lead roles.
His latest film, Bharat Ane Nenu, is a political drama with Mahesh Babu playing the role of a chief minister. The director confesses that it is neither a satire on current state of politics nor inspired from any real incidents. Excerpts from an interview:
In a recent interview, you stated that you came up with the story of Bharat Ane Nenu almost 10 years ago. What took you so long to make the film?
When I first thought about writing a script for a political film, I didn’t have the characterisation of the protagonist in mind. Besides, unlike a romantic film, where a boy-meets-girl, or a revenge drama which focuses on the clash between two people, a political film is supposed to have multiple threads. Apart from the characters, I had to create the right political atmosphere and social issues to address through the film. I knew what the core element of the film was but I had to design the characters too. It was then that my friend Srihari Nanu suggested that the political film should be striking right from the beginning which led me to make the protagonist as a chief minister. Mahesh Babu was the ideal choice for this film.
When I narrated the story to him after Janatha Garage, he laughed out loud because he wasn’t expecting that I would pitch a political drama to him. He said he was a layman when it comes to politics and he made it very clear to me that doesn’t know much about politics. I convinced him saying that at the end of the day, you are just acting in a film and since you don’t have a reference point from your own films, you’ll be able to offer something new. He took sometime to do his homework — observe the body language of politicians, follow proceedings in the assembly to an extent and once I narrated the complete story, he was convinced to do the film.
In these past 10 years, there have been a lot of changes in the political landscape of Andhra Pradesh, and now Telangana too. Did any of the incidents that have occurred in the recent past inspire you while writing this film?
Not at all. It’s a fictional story, although some of the issues we’re highlighting are real. The problem with getting inspired from real incidents is that people will start connecting the dots and focus more on whether a particular character resembles a certain real life politician. I didn’t want the audience to deviate from the world we created in Bharat Ane Nenu. Besides, I felt that if we include real incidents then it might come across as a satire on politics. A lot of thought process went into creating characters that are specific to the film. In fact, this process took a lot more time than writing the story itself. The idea was to create a film that looks royal, classy and also, it should have an authentic political atmosphere that’s not often depicted in our films.
In the past couple of decades, except for Shankar’s Mudhalvan (Oke Okkadu in Telugu) and Sekhar Kammula-Rana’s Leader, there haven’t been as many political dramas. What is it that you are trying to say with Bharat Ane Nenu that hasn’t already been said before?
What really inspired me when I began writing, the script wasn’t full of the profound dialogues that one expects from any film in this genre. I’ve the habit of encompassing the whole theme of the film in a single line and for Bharat Ane Nenu, it boils down to the promise that a politician makes to the people. When you really think about it, it’s quite clear that we’ve taken the oath ceremony of a politician for granted but it’s the very essence of what makes a politician a leader. Once someone promises to do something, it’s meant to make people believe that s/he will adhere to it. It’s the promise that truly defines his character. More than civil servants or police officials, it’s the politicians who have supreme power because they are elected by the people. Promise is not just a random word, or a sentence or a paragraph. Once you make a promise to do something, you should stick to it. The entire story of Bharat Ane Nenu revolves around a promise that Bharat (Mahesh Babu) makes and it’s a recurring element in the film. I’ve showcased that a promise is a noble and a serious thing.
That reminds me. In all your films, there is one dialogue that captures the whole essence of the film. Isn’t it? In Mirchi, Prabhas often says, “Veelaithe Premidham, maha aithe thirigi premistharu”; in Srimanthudu, Mahesh Babu says, “Ooru nunchi chaala teeskunnaru. Thirigi icheyali. Lekapothe lavu ayipotaru.” And then, in Janatha Garage, there is the line where Jr NTR talks about Janatha Garage being a pillar of support to the needy. This aspect has almost become your trademark, right?
(Laughs) It’s true. I think I can’t make any progress or write scenes if I don’t come up with that one sentence that takes the story forward. That line becomes the theme of the film. Even if the characters don’t always say it, it’s the emotion in that line which gives a motive to the lead characters to remind them about their journey and what their intentions are.
Going by the trailer of Bharat Ane Nenu, Mahesh sounds more like an autocratic leader. Isn’t it?
When I think about politics, I feel a leader should take all types of decisions and some of them might not go down well with a lot of people but they might turn out to be good for society in the long run. When it’s necessary, the leader should be harsh too. Rather than thinking about vote bank politics, you should do what’s good. Bharat doesn’t think about who might get angry if he takes certain harsh decisions. He doesn’t have any calculations in his mind and he doesn’t bother about those who might not vote for him. He is someone who has learnt the oath ceremony by heart and he is going to stand by everything he believes.
You are working with Mahesh once again after Srimanthudu. What was it like on the sets of this film?
Right from the beginning, he has a lot of faith in the directors he works with. He enjoys storytelling a lot and both of us believe that when a story is good then half of your job is done. Since he’s someone who loves challenges, everyday was exciting because he has never done anything like this before. There’s a glow on his face when he knows that he’s going to do a challenging scene. He waits for that moment.
All your films so far have highlighted social issues in the society. Do you see cinema as a medium to call for change?
That’s not my intention at all, to be honest. If the stories lead to a deeper discourse on social issues, I can’t take credit for it. I get excited when I know that I can narrate a boring concept in an interesting way. For instance, take that concept from Mirchi where he says, “Veelaithe premidham dude, maha aithe thirigi premisthaaru (Let’s try fall in love. At best, you’ll get that love in return). We are so used to the emotional high that violence brings that anyone who hears a hero say ‘fall in love’ wouldn’t sound so exciting. But what excited me was that I found a scope to depict heroism even with such a simple line. And I knew that it can be told within the boundaries of a mainstream masala film, with all the highs and lows, action and drama. That’s the challenge for me with each film.
Even the concept of Srimanthudu, where a rich guy goes on to adopt a village, sounds like a documentary but I love narrating a simple (and even boring at times) story in an interesting manner. In this process, if people get inspired then it’s great. But l’m not deliberately trying to achieve that. I’m not here to change people. I strongly feel that movies are meant to entertain people and there’s a lot at stake because of the budgets involved. Even for Bharat Ane Nenu, what motivated me both as a writer and a director is that I envisioned a commercial film around the whole idea of ‘promise’.
Considering that all the three films that you’ve made so far have been huge hits, will Bharat Ane Nenu too continue your success streak?
As a director, I know what my limitations are. I know that I’m not a filmmaker who banks a lot on gripping screenplays or new filmmaking techniques or try to do something that I’m not well versed with. That’s not my style. I believe more in my story and I do what’s necessary for a certain scene. I can assure you that Bharat Ane Nenu is going to be gripping and intense, and I’ll be really happy if the audience too relate to the journey of the characters.
Bharat Ane Nenu, starring Mahesh Babu and Kiara Advani, is slated for release on 20 April.
Updated Date: Apr 18, 2018 12:22:05 IST