Natural Star Nani's 'Dasara' heads to the theatres on March 30. The sought-after production designer, who turned into an apprentice with Mahesh Babu's 'Srimanthudu', debuted as an art director with Nani's 'Krishnagaadi Veera Prema Gadha'. He went on to do Nani's prestigious 'Jersey'.
Recreating the Singareni coal mines near Godavarikhani of Telangana for 'Dasara' was no mean feat. "I and my team travelled to Godavarikhani to get a sense of the ambiance," the production designer says. Catch him talk more about the project.
The story of 'Dasara' takes place in a backward hamlet where transport and communication are minimal. And the village has got a native culture of its own. The place is soaked in coal. The feel is thoroughly rustic. The period drama takes place sometime in the 1990s.
This is a core Telangana-based movie. The mining backdrop, the food culture and the costumes - everything is authentic. A hallmark of the village is that the social faultlines are stark. The village's festivals and rituals have been established well visually and artistically. The atmosphere of a village inhabited by about 5,000 people has been created remarkably. The terrain is distinct and the differentiation has been done with care.
When village sets are erected for films, the tendency is to put up 'kobbari chetlu' and stuff. In the case of 'Dasara', we erected a set in Bachupally over an area of 22 acres. We didn't opt for typical props. Asbestos roofs and structures were constructed for real. They are not dummy structures. There is a swanky bungalow that was put up at a high cost. Each door cost us Rs 3 lakh.
Seventy percent of the story takes place in outdoor locations. Producer Sudhakar Cherukuri garu didn't mind the budget. He was happy to support the director's vision.
When the film came my way last year, I was asked to put up the set in two months. During the making of the set, we had the fear of snakes. Night shoots made the fear worse. About 800 people worked on the set day in and day out. There were 300 people during the shoot. They couldn't believe that it was a set.
The film was shot for 110 days. I was there on set for about 102 days. The director (Srikanth Odela) hails from Telangana. Story-wise and in terms of sensibilities, he holds the complete grip. The hero's body language and dialect are authentic. The director didn't want to compromise on authenticity.
I have had a repeated association with Nani garu. It was he who suggested my name to the producers of 'Shyam Singha Roy'. I am also doing his 30th movie. My collaborations with him have always fetched me fame.
Upcoming projects: Nani30, Akhil Akkineni's 'Agent', and the Ram Charan-Shankar movie are among my upcoming movies. I have got enough work in Tollywood. Even if I receive offers from Bollywood, I am not inclined to take them up. Bollywood is dealing with subjects most of the audience members can't connect with. They are not catering to mass audiences in Bihar, UP, etc. The masses are expecting mass movies made in Telugu and other languages.
While budgets are rising, our remunerations haven't gone up. Most of the budget hikes are going to the heroes!