From a popular film journalist to a writer and now as one of the few lady directors of today’s generation B.Jaya has come a long way from her journalism days. Presently all excited about her ready for release Gundammagari Manavudu, starring Aali, Sindhuri and Nicole in the lead, Jaya talks about her 12th May release in an interview with Ragalahari.
Q: Why this sudden shift from love stories to sentimental drama?
A: I always loved our culture and the way we maintain our relationships. I grew up near my grand parents in Ravulapelam and had gone to Madras for my education and career. Even there I always rooted for my relationships here. That is why I chose this script. And this is not a sudden change, in fact my first film Chantigaadu dealt with the mother-son relationship to a certain extent.
Q: What exactly is Gundammagari Manavudu about?
A: I won’t claim that Gundammagari Manavudu is a different story but I am confident that it will be appreciated by the audiences. It is set against a rural backdrop and deals with the relationship between a grand mother (Vadiyukarasi) and her grandson (Aali). All the sentiments have been dealt with in a lighter tone and realistically. It is definitely not the weepy kind of sentimental drama. I have tried to present the kind of unconditional affection and love that exist between grand parents and their grand children.
Q: This is the first time that you are working with an established actor. But why did you choose Aali for the lead role?
A: Yes. With my first two films, Chantigaadu and Premikulu, I worked with relative newcomers as they were my initial films. I had to shoulder the entire burden of the film. But now, for my third film, I have the talents of versatile actors like Aali, Kota, Tanikella Bharani and Vadiyukarasi to lend credit to the film. In fact Gundammagari Manavudu will be Ali’s 786th film.
As for why I chose Aali as the leading man? Apart from being a great comedian Aali has the face that can emote empathy. His face hasn’t changed in the last 10 years. He looks the same as he did in Yamaleela. He’s got a serene face that reflects innocence. That is the reason I chose him for the role. When I first approached him for the role he said that he was not doing lead roles anymore and was more than satisfied working in power packed comedy bits like he did in Pokiri and Desamuduru. But he did give me a chance to narrate the story. After I finished narrating till the interval he called his manager and asked him to check for dates and by the end of my narration he agreed and just said that the film is a 100 days movie.
Q: Your heroines tend to have a glamorous presentation. Any cue from Raghavendra Rao?
A: No nothing of that sort. And it was never intentional. I know that after Chantigaadu such comments surfaced but that is not true and I am not influenced by Raghavendra Rao. I don’t show glamour just for the sake of it.
Q: What about the film’s producers?
A: Venkat is a tasteful filmmaker. After Chantigaadu, when he suggested that we make another movie I was apprehensive. When directing a movie for an outside banner I want to make a safe bet and choose a commercially viable project. That is why I told him about Gundammagari Manavudu, that he is now producing. The film has had a good sale and Venkat is now enjoying the sale profits. I sure hope that the buyers will also be happy after the film’s release.
Q: What is the response of the industry to Gundammagari Manavudu?
A: It is amazing. More than that it is the reaction of my cast and crew that is really heart warming to me. Kota has been telling about my film and me to everybody saying how much he had enjoyed working in this film. I won the appreciation and regards of my artist’s and now I am waiting for the audiences’ reaction. Even Tanikella Bharani had a new kind of energy when ever he came on sets. So much so that he wrote as well as sang the song Vivaha Bojanambu in the film. The original was his all time favorite so I suggested that he do a parody of that in Gundammagari Manavudu.
Q: What about the music?
A: It is already a big hit. It is the biggest audio success in recent times among the small budget films. For the first time in Telugu cinema we have a song on Bamma i.e. grand mother and surprisingly that song Brahmme Eduruga Vacchi has become a hit even before the film’s release. Generally such sentimental songs catch on after the release.
Q: Did your experience as a film journalist and a writer make it easy for you to direct a film?
A: Definitely. Journalism teaches you to get to the point with out going in a round about way. And that has helped me. Even story writing has helped me pen good scripts. Journalism helps you with expression of your ideas and feelings. Communicating with the actors becomes easy. Journalism helps you be in command of the subject that you are dealing with. Not knowing what to do can sometimes make the artist take you for a ride.
Q: Generally film journalists tend to have a liking for off beat films. But your films so far have all been commercial ones. Why?
A: I am no different from other film journalists. I love offbeat, art films and grew up watching films by Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani. But I wanted to be a commercially viable director before I ventured into the off beat track. That is reason I made my second movie Premikulu by my own banner Superhit Friends. The story was slight risky.
Q: What went wrong with Premikulu?
A: There was a point in the story that required good handling and I thought that I did it. But that did not work. It was a learning experience. I was still raw and learning to walk. But now with Gundammagari Manavudu I am confident. I am sure that it will be appreciated by all.
Q: What are you forthcoming projects? Didn’t you want to direct an English film?
A: My next film will be announced on May 12th. It will be a completely mass film. After that I am planning a sentimental film with Bhanupriya, that is along the lines of Mathrudevo Bhava. As for the English film? I still plan to direct one and hope that it will be soon.