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Interview of Sandhya Raju about Natyam

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'Natyam', starring Sandhya Raju in lead role, will be released in theatres on October 22. In this interview, the Kuchipudi dancer and actress talks about the film, its premise, working with director Revanth Korukonda, actors such as Kamal Kamaraju, her future plans, and more.

Right from childhood, I have been passionate about dance. Thanks to doing 'Natyam', I have realized that film is a medium through which I can take dance forms to a large set of audience. Before this feature film, we made a short film on dance and inspired many. I understood the power of cinema and did 'Natyam'.

I love sports. Even as a child, I used to play sports and train in dance with great interest. I was not much into movies.

There have been many dance-based movies, among others made by K Viswanath garu. 'Natyam' has a new perspective. Dance is about telling a story beautifully. With dance forms like Hip-Hop, there is movement of limbs. 'Natyam' shows that dance is not just about movement of body parts. It's a story-telling device. Before cinema came into existence, it was through dances, ballets and folk plays that ideas used to be disseminated to the masses.

'Natyam' has got three tracks. There is a guru-sishya track, there is a Western dancer, and there is a grey character. There is also a love story. The story is set in a fictional village that is lordered over by a Goddess. The beliefs around her form an important element. That said, the screenplay is commercial in nature.

Venkaiah Naidu garu, the Vice-President of India, has watched our movie. We screened our movie for him in Delhi. He told us that he would not be able to watch the film fully due to back pain. But he watched 'Natyam' entirely because he loved the narration. Chiranjeevi garu hasn't watched the entire length. He watched the songs and some scenes and endorsed 'Natyam'.

Our music director, Shravan Bharadwaj, has done a balancing act. Music is not too much in 'Natyam'. We didn't do elevation songs for the sake of it. They take the story forward. Most of the songs have been choreographed by me. One of the songs is CG-heavy and is modelled on the Radha-Krishna-Brindavanam theme.

My husband, my in-laws have been very supportive. They understand that I am passionate about dance. They didn't imagine that I would cling on to my passion to the extent of doing a movie.

Rohit Behal has played a Western dancer, while Kamal Kamaraju is an Indian classical dancer. Aditya Menon has played negative roles mostly in his career, but in 'Natyam', you will see him in a very positive role.

If the audiences accept me, I will be doing a few more meaningful movies with different backdrops. A short film named 'Natyam' that we made years ago has inspired thousands of people. It's their gratitude that instilled hope in me and I took up 'Natyam'.

We are living in the age of social media. If you post a nice video in Hyderabad, someone in the Netherlands has access to it. There is a lot of difference between performing on stage and acting in front of the camera in a film. Since the cinema lenses are intimate, your expression must be more watchable.

One of the songs has a fantastical theme. We had to rely on CG for that. Just the pre-production works for the song consumed months of time. We planned everything in minutest detail, right from the shot division to choreography, from emotions to expressions. The costumes were designed with meticulous care. The costumes are drawn from different regions of India.

I recently appeared on Bigg Boss Telugu and Nagarjuna garu appreciated my classical dance performance in the episode. He was nice and encouraged me.

I could work with director Revanth because he totally believed in my abilities. Having worked with me on a short film before, he knows my strengths and my kind of expressions.

It was kind of Chiranjeevi garu and Ram Charan to promote our movie. It really was a game-changer.

The budget of 'Natyam' did go up because of several uncertainties. Most of the film was shot outdoors and the weather was unfriendly on some occasions.

Updated on October 20, 2021