'Virata Parvam' is hitting the cinemas on June 17. In this interview, director Venu Udugula talks about working with Rana Daggubati and Sai Pallavi, his inspirations, working with producer Suresh Babu, whether Naxalism is the core of the film, and more.
With a run time of 145 minutes, 'VP' also features Naveen Chandra, Priyamani, Nandita Das, and others.
I have been influenced by my circumstances, upbringing, the people I have met, and the literature I have read in writing 'VP'. There are stories hidden in the heart of history. I seek to tell neither a complex story nor a simple story. I go by my temperament. I don't know whether a subject is heavy or not.
The casting, the title, and the producers have ensured that there has been so much buzz around the film. The delay has definitely been stressful. But I have tried to overcome the disappointment from time to time. The delay has been inevitable (due to the pandemic). OTT offers came my way but the producers didn't sell the movie. How can rural people be expected to subscribe to a Netflix to watch a movie?
Revolution is an act of love. The line can be interpreted in multiple ways. Love can be between two individuals or between a leader and his people. Some people don't get married for altruistic reasons. Everything is an act of love.
Rana sir accepting a subject of this kind is his greatness, not mine. He came forward to support the project because he felt the story deserves strong backing.
I had a vision of a woman walking with a bag slung on her shoulders. I could only imagine Sai Pallavi after a point for the role. She okayed the project in 10 minutes. Not just her, everyone okayed the film in a short time.
Suresh Babu garu had listened to the story first. He is an experienced producer with a strong grounding in several genres.
I have closely observed Naxal and self-respect movements. I hail from Telangana, which is a political laboratory. Several of its thought and progressive movements have influenced thinking throughout the country.
'VP' is based on true incidents. I read about a woman named Sarala and wrote Vennela (Sai Pallavi). There is a lot of fiction. The story is only based on some incidents but the story itself is imaginary. I won't reveal the nature of the climax. To me, the audience must carry the film to his home.
Right-wing and Left-wing are in the limelight in turns. The political ideology that is prevalent is irrelevant to me as a filmmaker. 'VP' is a love story that unfolds in a certain political context. How politics influences the personal is what the film is about. Its aesthetics are going to impress the audience. This is about human relations. The prevalent political and ideological climate in India or in Telangana in particular are not relevant. The Virata Parvam from Mahabharatha is an undercurrent in the story.
'VP' is no propaganda film. That's why I am not bothered about the political climate in India. The Naxalism backdrop is a mere catalyst to the story. 'VP' is a woman's love story.
The story takes place in 1992 at a time when the Ram Janmabhoomi movement was going strong. At the same time, Naxals had their own ideology and there were also anti-liquor agitations in AP. These elements take place in the background.
'VP' is a respectable film that the family audience are surely going to watch in big numbers. With films like 'Vikram' and 'Major', stability is back in the market.
Just because you want your film to be thought-provoking, you can't get preachy at every turn. Don't give sermons. You have to make it dramatic or entertaining.
'Acharya' may have a Naxal backdrop like our film but I haven't even watched that movie to comment. In any case, 'VP' is the first love story using Naxalism as a backdrop.
'VP' is a Sai Pallavi movie and we are genuine about it. That's why Rana sir has also said that it's Vennela's story. At the same time, his character is equally important. Can there be Vennela without Chandrudu?
I have had to keep aside 'Maidanam' because I have been busy with 'VP'. I am not its director or anything. I am the show-runner of the web series. It is based on Chalam's 'Maidanam'. I feel literature and cinema should be wedded. Great stories can come out if that happens.