'Yashoda' is hitting the cinemas on November 11. In this interview, its directors take us through the journey of the survival thriller, working with Samantha Ruth Prabhu, the inspiration behind the thriller, and more.
Our previous movies such as 'Ambuli' and 'Jumbulingam' in Tamil were made as small-scale movies. 'Yashoda' is our biggest film in terms of scale. That said, the sense of challenge is the same. For a movie, what matters is how you convey the emotion/content to the audience. 'Yashoda' is a big-scale movie not for the sake of it. It became a big project in an organic way. The film was shot on a few sets erected somewhere at Nanakramaguda in Hyderabad.
We (Hari and Harish) have gotten along on the creative front so well because we are perfectly aligned. The points we agree on keep us going.
When we narrated the script to the producer (Sivalenka Krishna Prasad), we had a small budget in mind. He felt that it needs to be made as a pan-India project. We then went to Samantha ma'am.
We had no Plan B as to what we should do if Samantha ma'am doesn't do the film. We went to her after writing the script thoroughly, as we didn't want to take any chances. She has nailed it with her performance. The action directors, one Hollywoodian and one Indian, have ensured that the fights are versatile. Yannick Ben and Venkat have got different styles. The action scenes were built into the script right from the start. We didn't do it after watching Samantha ma'am in 'The Family Man 2'.
Every day, there would be about 80 women on set. And most of them were pregnant for real. We wanted everything to look natural.
Content-wise, 'Yashoda' is a novel film. Even for the global audience, it is a new sort of story. Surrogacy is a part of the story and not the be-all and end-all of the movie. The story is based on news reports and articles. You will be shocked when you watch the movie. The story was built during the year 2020 lockdown. We had a number of Zoom calls and discussed the plot at length. There is a suspense element and the screenplay is thoroughly engaging. This is a mainstream movie, unlike experiments that we made before.
We always look for emotions. In this, we also take inspiration from Rajamouli sir. When we read a news article and were inspired to build a story based on it, we knew that our cinematic grammar has to be steeped in emotions. There are a few unexpected, sweet surprises. They are also hard-hitting surprises.
'Yashoda' is the most emotional movie we have made. The very title says it all. There is also an element of the medical mafia. During the lockdown, many poor women lost livelihood opportunities. They opted for surrogacy only for money.
The character played by Samantha ma'am has got so many shades. She was focused throughout and kept on checking with us whether we were satisfied with her performance.
Mani Sharma sir composed touching bit songs. The dialogues penned by Pulagam Chinnarayana and Bhagya Lakshmi, both of whom are journalists, are smooth. It was easy for us to communicate with the latter since she is well-versed in Tamil. She is also a woman who added her perspective. They aid the nuances.
Varalaxmi Sarathkumar's character has got a negative shade. While listening to the script, she was mum. We were scared thinking she was infuriated (laughs).
The production design will be appreciated by the audience. At first, we wanted to shoot in real locations. But none of them was satisfactory. We then sat down with the art director and explained to him what the detailing of the surrogacy centre named Eva has to be like. The set offered us the liberty to improvize. A pan-India movie needs to be location-neutral. Going for a set was also apt.
In the future, we are going to try a variety of genres. Thrillers will surely figure in our list. There are so many things happening around us. There is enough scope to narrate new stories.