"I am not a regular producer. I am based out of London. I do films in a choosy manner. My only intent is to derive the thrill of making new-age Telugu movies. 'Annapurna Photo Studio' is the most thrilling movie for me personally since 'Pelli Choopulu' and 'Dear Comrade'. I am introducing a dozen technicians through the film," says producer Yash Rangineni in this interview. The film stars Chaitanya Rao and Lavanya Sahukara in lead roles.
Set to hit the cinemas on July 21, 'APS' has been directed by Chendu Muddu. In this interview, Yash talks about what pushed him to make the film, his vision as a producer, and his upcoming movies.
The journey of 'APS' started when I met director Chendu Muddu three years ago. The storyline he narrated really wowed me. By then, I knew that his primary strength is screenplay writing. The Godavari backdrop of the story especially impressed me because I like village-based films. I assured him that I will do the film and went back to London. The Covid-19 pandemic struck the world after that.
These days, films have to stand out from the crowd. To this day, I watch old films starring thespians such as NTR, ANR and Krishna. That's why I am glad that the period setting of our movie is 1980s. The male lead in this film remains unmarried for some reason. There is a mysterious incident in the store. This is a very honest film sans cinematic liberty. At the same time, it is a commercial movie with thrills, mystery, fights and romance.
We have screened the movie thrice to the general audience already. They were unpaid shows. The feedback was very positive. The viewers felt that the film has brought out the innocence of the bygone era. People about four decades ago were not calculated in interpersonal relations. Watching 'APS' is a stress-buster because the characters are pure. The locations where we shot the film will surely surprise you. They authentically reflect the atmosphere of the 1980s. Even those living in the Godavari region never knew that such beauty exists amidst them.
The story takes place between 7-8 characters. Every character leads to an incident. I have played one of those characters.
Chaitanya Rao became popular due to '30 Weds 21' (web series). But our director didn't even know about that web series when he recruited him for the lead role. Chaitanya's biggest plus is his good looks. He has got a nice smile. If he carves his career path well, he will endear himself to the family audience. In 'APS', his acting in a few scenes is top-notch. Since he is an aged groom, he should look innocent and likeable. Chaitanya has that quality.
The heroine Lavanya is cute and chubby. She is a Telugu-speaking girl. We wanted her to look authentic like a Malayalam movie heroine.
I am fortunate to have got a director like Chendu. He is the producer's delight. He is highly efficient and completed the shoot two days before schedule. I wanted the budget to be controlled and Chendu was conscious throughout. In making 'Pelli Choopulu', I never encouraged luxuries. My team was totally with me on it. In the case of 'APS', too, the same happened.
ETV Win has acquired the OTT rights to our movie. They closed the deal within 24 hours after watching 'APS'. I didn't have to pitch our movie to any other OTT platform. I respect the Eenadu Group. I couldn't have asked for more. I am not a greedy person. I just wanted my project to be safe. These days, hardly 2% of small movies close OTT deals before their theatrical release. If the budget of the film is Rs 3 Cr, OTT platforms are not offering even Rs 70 lakh. My friends in the US ask me how I manage to impress OTT platforms. It's not a mystery. Your content has to be good. You don't land OTT deals because of your contacts.
Until 'Pelli Choopulu' was released in theatres, I and Raj Kandukuri didn't realize its potential. 'APS' may be a small film today, but it might become big upon its release. In terms of scale and budget, 'APS' is a small film.
Many people tell me they don't understand why 'Dear Comrade' flopped in theatres. It wasn't a complete failure. It was safe for us producers. But it didn't reach the sky high expectations. 'Geetha Govindam' had collected Rs 100 Cr. Many expected 'Dear Comrade' to collect even more. We should have trimmed the film by about 15 minutes. Vijay Deverakonda is in favour of the re-release of 'Dear Comrade' and 'Pelli Choopulu' next year.
I have okayed two stories. One is a rural Telangana story. The other one is completely crazy, which will either be loved totally or hated totally. I will reveal the details soon. They both will feature new artists.