Naa Peru Surya director Vakkantham Vamsi on casting Allu Arjun: 'He set aside over 100 days for this project'
'It was unfortunate and disappointing that the film with NTR didn’t materialise. But I'm glad to collaborate with Allu Arjun on Naa Peru Surya,' says Vamsi.
Vakkantham Vamsi is one of the well-known writers in Telugu filmdom and his writing credits include blockbuster films such as Kick, Race Gurram and Temper. Despite being a successful writer for nearly a decade, it took him a long time to graduate to a director and his dream is being fulfilled through Allu Arjun’s Naa Peru Surya Naa Illu India, slated to hit the screens on 4 May.
In this exclusive chat with Firstpost, Vamsi talks about realising his dream of becoming a director, his failed attempt to make his directorial debut with Jr NTR and how Allu blindly believed in his vision to make an army-based film.
For the uninitiated, Vamsi started his career as an actor on television. His transition from a small screen actor to film writer is no easy feat. “I wasn’t quite happy with my career as an actor as it wasn’t going anywhere. That’s when I had made up my mind that I should be part of the film industry come what may. Direction was always on my mind but I chose to begin my career as a writer and started exploring opportunities,” Vamsi said, adding that his wait to don the director’s hat has been frustrating, but at the same time rewarding, as it gave him the opportunity to make his mark as a writer.
Known for his association with NTR on multiple projects and his close association with the star, it would have been easy to direct a film with him. Vamsi nods in agreement but things did not work in his favour. “It was unfortunate and disappointing that the film with NTR didn’t materialise. It would’ve been my first film. He was certain that we’d only collaborate if both of us were 100 percent sure about a script. The idea I had in mind excited him but we had our difference of opinion. Hence, we decided to not take the project forward. It was a mutual decision and we didn’t end things on a bad note as speculated by a section of media,” he said. “We’re still in touch. He called me and appreciated after seeing the teaser of Naa Peru Surya.”
Vamsi thanks producer Nallamalupu Bujji for making Naa Peru Surya happen with Allu Arjun. “Had it not been for his call after my proposed project with NTR didn’t take off, I may have waited longer to make my directorial debut. He called and heard few lines of my story and liked the idea of Naa Peru Surya. He asked if the character would fit Bunny (Allu Arjun),” Vamsi said, recalling how the project fell in place.
Talking more about the project, he said, “I wasn’t sure if Bunny would want to work with a newcomer on such an idea. Although I wrote his Race Gurram, I didn’t know him personally. But producer Bujji was hell-bent on taking the idea to Bunny, who green-lit the script in very first narration.”
In the film, Arjun plays a soldier with anger issues. “It’s an emotional story of a guy who wants to serve his country at the border. His anger issues come in the way of his dream, and how he handles it forms the crux of the story,” said Vamsi, without taking credit for his hero’s look which has been one of the highlights of the film so far. “It was all Arjun’s idea. He wanted to shave his brow and I liked how he visualised himself in his character without my guidance. I was stunned by his involvement in the project.”
He is all praise for Bunny who set aside over 100 days for this project. “I can’t thank him enough. More than just offering me an opportunity to work with him, I was touched by the way he owned the film. There were days when stayed around till 3 am just to ensure a particular shot was completed.”
Besides Allu, the film also features established Tamil stars such as Arjun, Nadhiya and Sarath Kumar. Asked if he did not have any problem dealing with so many stars in a project, Vamsi said he was initially unsure how he was going to handle Bunny itself. “Everything changed on the first day of the sets. Bunny surrendered himself to my vision and the supporting cast also placed their faith in me. I didn’t expect things to happen so smoothly.”
The film is also releasing in Tamil as En Peyar Surya. Vamsi is hopeful the film will open new avenues for Bunny in Tamil filmdom. “We had originally planned it as a Telugu-Tamil bilingual. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go ahead with the plan due to the strike which stalled work for nearly two weeks. We eventually decided to dub it in Tamil.”
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