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EXCLUSIVE | Dulquer Salmaan was a choice that I was hell bent on: Swapna Dutt Chalasani

Swapna Dutt Chalasani, the presenter of the most-awaited biopic, Mahanati speaks about making a film set in the 60s, casting Keerthy Suresh, Samantha Ruth Prabhu and Dulquer Salmaan.

regional movies Updated: Dec 13, 2017 16:23 IST
Priyanka Sundar
Priyanka Sundar
Hinndustan Times, New Delhi
Mahanati,Keerthy Suresh,Samantha Ruth Prabhu
Swapna Dutt Chalasani will be the presenter of Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Keerthy Suresh and Dulquer Salmaan starrer Mahanati.

Swapna Dutt Chalasani knows what kind of films she would like to bankroll — movies that will be remembered. And so, she founded her own production house Swapna Cinema even though her father Ashwini Dutt owned the mega Vyjayanthi Movies.

Swapna’s debut production venture, Yevade Subramanyam had some great talent — Vijay Devarakonda, who rose to fame after Arjun Reddy; Ritu Varma, who received acclaim after Pelli Choopulu and Nani. She has also produced the popular Telugu web-series Mana Mugguri Love Story.

Her next venture is Mahanati, a biopic on yesteryear actress Savitri, which she will be presenting while her sister Priyanka Dutt Chalasani will be producing.

In an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, Swapna reveals interesting aspects about one of the most-anticipated biopics in Telugu cinema, and also about working with her father, growing up with cinema and more.

Being a Second Generation producer:

Swapna has been a part of films. Her father Ashwini was an outsider when he began his career in the industry unlike her and that is one of the many reasons why she respects him.

She also had the front row view on how success and failure affected a producer because of him. How is it to work with someone who is rooted in the old-school style of filmmaking? How does he react to the newer mediums like short films, television or web series? Swapna reveals that it is initially difficult convince her father of something because he is a man who believes quality once he sees the outcome. “Initially, he was not kicked up when I started television. But when he sees the audience reacting in a positive manner, and you prove it right with him, then he understands,” she said.

Swapna with director Nag Ashwin and father Ashwini Dutt


A post shared by Swapnadutt Chalasani (@swapnaduttchalasani) on

Swapna Cinema and Vyjayanthi Movies:

Swapna explains that while her production company concentrates on small budget films with strong content, Vyjayanthimovies is all about big-budget films driven by stars. The biopic of actor Savitri was an idea that began with Swapna Cinemas, but with the growing budget, VyjayanthiMovies pitched in to make this project real.

So are there conflicts when it comes to the kind of films that the father and daughter finalise? “I feel my father, my sister and I are on the same page when it comes to the kind of films that we make. Through VyjayanthiMovies, we have done all commercial projects, the big-budgets ones and the ones driven by stars. Now I want to make great cinema. We want to make something that people will take home and remember,” Swapna explained.

When it comes to Vyjayanthi movies, Ashwini Dutt is the man who finalises the projects, but Swapna and sister Priyanka execute them.

#Journeybegins #mahanati 🙏🙏🙏

A post shared by Swapnadutt Chalasani (@swapnaduttchalasani) on

The beginning of Mahanati:

For Swapna, being the presenter of actor Savitri’s biopic is an exciting phase of her life. The team has done a lot of research, a lot of time was spent during the pre-production phase. “Savitri garu could give a 100 expressions in 10 seconds and we had to understand her character. We spoke with her daughter Vijaya Chamundeswari, the directors she worked with, and went through books that we could access. We even collected her pictures, and now I feel we can have a library dedicated to Savitri garu,” said Swapna.

She also revealed that Samantha Ruth Prabhu was signed to play her part even before Keerthy Suresh became a part of the project. “There is not much I can reveal yet, but Sam is the driver behind the wheels when it comes to the film,” she revealed.

So what was the reason behind attempting a biopic of Savitri? “She is a household name when it comes to artistes of that era. Her real life story is also dramatic and she has seen such highs and lows that it was an interesting story to tell. Another thing that had me kicked up was the way cinema happened about three decades ago. In that perspective, shooting a song from Maya Bazaar for three days was an emotional experience,” she said.

When this man has that lil smile on his face...that means some legendary stuff is happening... #mahanati #legendonset #blessed🙏

A post shared by Swapnadutt Chalasani (@swapnaduttchalasani) on

Keerthy Suresh was cast because she did not have a set image, and the director Nag Ashwin wanted someone new to play Savitri. “When she signed the project, she was still new to the Telugu film industry. She will be trying to put Savitri’s story forward to the next generation.”

Asked when how they zeroed in on Dulquer Salmaan to play Gemini Ganesan, Swapna said, “We thought what is with this man that many women love and who would be able to play the role of someone like that? Dulquer was a choice that I was hell bent on and he came on board.”

After Mahanati, Swapna is also executing two other projects of Vyjayanthi movies and she finds it difficult to come back to reality after being on the sets of a film that is set in the past. “After the research and the amount of work we have put in on Mahanati, I feel any other film that we do in the future will be a cakewalk. After we complete the film though, we might have a hangover,” she said.

The author tweets @Priyanka_S_Mcc
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First Published: Dec 11, 2017 08:33 IST