Nani, Ravi Teja’s Awe is similar to Pulp Fiction: Director Prasanth Varma
Voice-overs for a fish and bonsai tree in a commercial feature film is unheard of, but to get two of the top Tollywood stars – Nani and Ravi Teja – to lend their voice for the same is even more extraordinary. Debutante director Prasanth Varma achieved this with his upcoming release Awe. In an interview, the director explains what makes Awe unique and his experience of shooting with so many talented actors in his first film.
The first thing that comes to mind when you watch the teaser of the film is why the fish and the tree? Ahead of the film’s release, Prasanth stresses that these two characters were a requirement of the story. “When you sit down to watch the film, initially it might seem scattered, but as the plot unravels the viewers will understand the importance of these two characters,” he said and added, “Ninety per cent of the characters in this film are unique and something that has never been tried before in Telugu filmdom.”
Each character’s look is eccentric, exhibitionist and odd. Especially the look of Regina Cassandra received a lot of appreciation on social media when it was revealed. Was this purely to seek attention? The director cites the unique characterizations as the main reason for their unconventional looks. “Their look had to be like that,” he stressed.
Speaking of multi-starrers, this movie has Kajal Aggarwal, Nithya Menen, Regina Cassandra, Eesha Rebba, Srinivas Avasarala, Murali Sharma, Divyadharshini and Priyadarshi Pullikonda in addition to Nani and Ravi Teja as voice cast. So how did it all work out?
Director Prasanth recalls that it was a smooth process that moved forward quite organically. “Usually, when it comes to multi-starrers, there is talk of ego clash and so on. But frankly, there was no such thing on the sets of Awe. All of them were excited to play their part. In fact, they were all quite attached to their own parts.”
So, how did the story for the film work out and how did Nani come on board as a producer? “It took me seven days to write the story and I spent six months with my team on detailing it. The writers constantly worked on the scripts and we discussed it all to bits. We reworked on the scenes that we felt were not working. All of us were experimenting as something like this has not been done before,” he explained.
“I wanted to break the prevalent format in films today -- that of travelling with the protagonist, coming to travel with him, understand him and his journey and then empathizing with him. In Awe, one cannot empathise with the characters. You might fall in love with them, but you are not going to be able to understand them or empathise with them,” he further adds.
The director says in terms of characters, Awe in something along the lines of Pulp Fiction. “In Pulp Fiction, can you relate to any of the characters?” he asked and suggested that Awe will be something like that. He called the movie “a crazy experiment” that will help future directors do original stories if it is successful.
Speaking about Nani coming on board as the producer, Prasanth laughed and said that each actor that he pitched his story to wanted to produce the film. “I initially pitched the script to Nani, Ravi Teja and Kajal Aggarwal and all three of them wanted to produce the film,” he recalled.
Coincidentally, they are also the only people who heard the story in its entirety. Prasanth got the nod from other actors by pitching only their specific characters. “During the shoot, the others did not know the story and were only sure about what their character would do in the film. It was during the dubbing process that they all realized what would be happening, especially the climax and they were impressed,” he said.
So what genre would this film fit into? It has elements of a thriller and fantasy, with a dash of horror. “All these different elements boil down to the film fitting the bill of a social drama,” says Prasanth and added, “I cannot exactly put a finger on the kind of film this is.”
The idea for Awe came from desperation, frustration and lack of money and that is what helped the director make the film. “Initially, I wanted to produce the film but I only had a few lakhs. So I wanted to work on a film that would fit in this project. That was how Awe was born. People say that necessity is the mother of all inventions and that turned out to be true in my case,” he said.
Speaking about budgets, how much risks were the producers ready to take for such an offbeat film? Prasanth answered, “Surprisingly, a lot. It is easier to convince someone to work on a script that is different like Awe than to convince them to work with you on a purely commercial film.”
So is that how Mass Maharaja Ravi Teja came on board? After all the man has so far worked in commercial films that have worked spectacularly well for him. “It was purely coincidental that when I wrote the lines for the fish, I subconsciously visualized Nani and for Bonsai Tree, I thought of Ravi Teja. Because, before I could realise, the people I pitched the story to assumed that these two stars would be voicing for the characters. It was only after this that I approached them to work with me.”
Prasanth also said that when he first shared the script of Awe with producers, they told him it was way ahead of its time and would need six years before it is made. “Whenever I pitched the story to an actor or producer, they told to me to wait six years and that is exactly how the time it took me to get the film made,” he said.
Author tweets @Priyanka_S_MCC
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