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'PAPA' is a love story driven by emotions, not twists: Avasarala Srinivas


Avasarala Srinivas calls 'Phalana Abbayi Phalana Ammayi' an emotionally driven film with no twists and turns. Set to be released in theatres on March 17, the film stars Naga Shaurya and Malvika Nair. In this interview, the director calls his third directorial a true-to-life relationship drama. Catch him describe the film's highlights and what he thinks is its USP. He says that the 'Krishna Vrinda Vihari' actor is an enthusiastic performer who has aced the three-dimensional character in 'PAPA' so well.

'PAPA' a realistic film with organic conversations. Nothing looks staged or scripted. The performances are realistic to the core. Even the story and the situations are slice-of-life. The story belongs to the individuals we come across in our daily lives. The title reflects the everydayness of situations and the true-to-life characters in the film.

Naga Shaurya's performance was one of the motivations for me to go to the set every day. His acting is so real throughout. I didn't write the script keeping him in my mind even though he is the actor I am most comfortable working with.

When Malvika Nair (of 'Yevade Subrahmanyam' and 'Kalyana Vaibhogame' fame) listened to the story, she reacted emotionally. She could connect with the scenes intimately. That made me believe that she would do complete justice to the character. An actor would walk the extra mile if she is convinced intensely about the script.

The story of 'PAPA' spans a period of 10 years and comprises seven chapters. The lead pair start their journey together when they are 18. The story concludes with them reaching 28. There is no acting backdrop in the story. The lead pair playact on the stage while in college and that's what you see them talking about in the teaser.

'PAPA' will give a feeling that you have watched real individuals. All filmmaking is manipulation. How well a film convinces that it is real is what matters. Since there are seven chapters in the script, the two-year hiatus during the production actually worked in the film's favour. While the pandemic has changed our tastes due to OTT, we are the same humans. 'PAPA' was conceived before the pandemic and I stuck to the script despite the pandemic. Ultimately, a film speaks for itself.

Budget is not the only aspect that decides a film's scale. Shelf life also matters. 'Oohalu Gusagusalade' gave me the utmost satisfaction, more than what even a billion-rupee movie wouldn't have given me.

'Oohalu Gusagusalade' was a romantic comedy. As I wrote the script, it gave me joy that I was creating a new world. But 'PAPA' doesn't bank on comedy, punches, etc. It explores human behaviour. When you watch the trailer, you will understand where I am coming from. Each film decides its own style. I don't start with the intention of doing a commercial film and stuff like that. Following the same path as your last film might result in staleness. The style must undergo a change from one film to another.

'PAPA' took me 1.5 years to write. I take more than a year to write a script. 'PAPA' had to be shot in the US. Only one-fourth of those who applied for Visas could get approvals later. There were many more norms that we were expected to adhere to. Due to the pandemic, our visas got cancelled in 2020. We then chose to shoot the film in the UK (after travel bans were lifted).

Kalyani Malik garu is a familiar composer to me. 'Oohalu..' was the first film for which I got to interact with him creatively. Otherwise, I have known him since 'Ashta Chamma'. His songs for 'Oohalu..' and 'Jyo Achyutananda' fetched him acclaim. That's why he likes me as a filmmaker. 'Kanula Chatu Meghama' from 'PAPA' is a special song. Even MM Keeravani sir has praised the song.

My producers have always believed in my vision. Whatever struggle I had convincing them about my vision, it ended after my first directorial.

I wrote the Telugu version's dialogues for 'Brahmastra' before 'Avatar 2' came my way. When 'Brahmastra' was offered, I was not told the title. I was told it was a big film. Since my 'Brahmastra' dialogues were liked by one and all, 'Avatar 2' came my way. Translating a Hollywood movie is no mean feat. The sarcasm and all don't get translated easily. I was conscious that nobody should make fun of the translation, given the history of Telugu-dubbed Hollywood films receiving flak.

I have a story ready now. I am yet to pitch it to someone. I have no actors in mind.

On the acting front, I have done a web series titled 'Kanyashulkam'. SonyLIV is going to stream it in April. It stars Anjali, Murali Sharma, Varsha Bollamma and others. I want to focus more on directing rather than acting assignments unless exciting offers like 'Kanyashulkam' come my way.

I have a lot of a personal bond with Nani. Whenever I work with him, I have to live up to his expectations. He trusts me a lot.

OTT has been a boon. Artists and technicians are getting handsome work these days. In the past year, I have found that nobody even has time to listen to story pitches. There is a lot of enthusiasm as of now.

Updated on March 3, 2023