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Sita Ramam is a love story and a larger-than-life film: Hanu Raghavapudi


Director Hanu Raghavapudi awaits the theatrical release of 'Sita Ramam' on August 5. In this interview, the 'Andala Rakshasi' maker talks about working with Dulquer Salman, his journey so far, his upcoming projects, and more. The film co-stars Mrunal Thakur, Rashmika Mandanna, Murali Sharma, Sumanth, Bhumika Chawla, Gautham Menon, Tharun Bhascker, and mothers.

When I made my debut with 'Andala Rakshasi', it was a tough task because the resources were limited. In terms of script and execution, it was relatively less complex. Initially, the film didn't do well but it later acquired cult status. I have made only four films in the last 10 years. I am not disappointed. I have been working at my own pace. A filmmaker lands projects only if his success rate is high. Unless others endorse your work, you won't get great recognition.

I don't know why there has been so much gap between a couple of films in my career. My first film was in 2011 and the second release ('Krishna Gaadi Veera Prema Gaadha) was in 2016. 'LIE' and 'Padi Padi Leche Manasu' were released in quick succession. 'Sita Ramam' would have been released much earlier had it not been for the pandemic. There are people who liked 'Padi Padi..', but their number is not the majority. I think I should have narrated its story in a more relatable fashion. I couldn't relay the 'amnesia' element the way the audience would have loved it.

Nowadays, a teaser/trailer has to raise curiosity among the audience to watch a movie. I think 'Sita Ramam' has done it already.

I have always been an avid reader of books. Most of the time, I would buy books in the second-hand market. In one of the novels I bought, I found a sealed letter, which was written by a mother to her son who was staying in a hostel. The son didn't even read the letter. What if the letter contained very important information? It would have been a life-defining thing. That thought sparked the storyline behind 'Sita Ramam'.

There is an unsealed letter in the film and it holds the key to the direction the story takes. In today's times, we don't write letters. The disappearance of the letter-writing culture from our lives is a loss. Communication is the key to how a love story is told. In today's times, it's difficult to narrate some love stories because of the widespread availability of communication facilities.

Why Dulquer and why not a Telugu hero? To this question, I would say that our heroes were not available to do this film at that time. No actor was in my mind while writing the script. Producer Swapna Dutt pitched Dulquer's name and I played ball. We both liked to work with him, for the character suits him.

'Sita Ramam' is more than a love story. It's a larger-than-life story. It has no similarities with films like 'Dil Se'. The story takes place in two timelines, the present and the past (1960s). No character is small in the movie.

The coming together of a love story and war is unique. The war is not the tangible one that takes place between two enemy countries. The term 'war' denotes the struggles within and between various characters.

In the Ramayana, Lord Rama's war against Ravana and his ultimate victory were foregone conclusions. There is nothing incredible about His victory, for Rama was omnipotent and an avatar of Lord Vishnu. His character was impeccable and that's why we worship Him. What then is the actual story? The journey from the time Sita was abducted and what transpires before the victory, the drama that takes place.. that's the story.

It has been a great journey with Vyjayanthi Movies. It's not enough if you have a vision. You need a producer who carries great conviction.

Composer Vishal Chandrasekhar is someone whose thought process matches mine. That's why my association with him has been unbroken. In 'Sita Ramam', like in my previous movies, lyrics dominate music. This is how songs used to be in the old days.

'Sita Ramam' is an ageless story. It's a life story and experiential in nature. That's why I didn't have to make any changes to the script during the pandemic.

Mani Ratnam sir's movies have had an impact on me. People believe that I had a love story in the past and that's why I made movies like 'Andala Rakshasi'. That's not true. I am a boring person who had no love story.

Learning is a life-long process. You make mistakes today and figure out what is the right thing to do tomorrow.

I have a Hindi film lined up with Sunny Deol as the male lead. I have written a web series for Amazon Prime Video.

Updated on July 23, 2022