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'Bholaa Shankar' is 70% different from 'Vedalam': Meher Ramesh


Meher Ramesh entered the film industry with the aim of directing a Chiranjeevi-starrer. 'Bholaa Shankar', which is slated to hit the cinemas on August 11, manifests his life-long dream. In this interview, the director of films like 'Billa' and 'Shakti' says that shooting the film was a breeze. He asserts that he is adept at making remakes and adaptations, citing the examples of 'Billa' (the Telugu adaptation of 'Don'), Veera Kannadiga' ('Andhrawala' remake in Kannada), and 'Ajay' (the Kannada remake of 'Okkadu').

The journey of 'Bholaa Shankar' was started in 2021. The shoot was like a picnic. And it was a dream come true to work with Chiranjeevi annayya. I used to watch his movies 40-50 times. For years, I had this burning desire to show him on the big screen in a certain way. The flashback portions were shot before 'Waltair Veerayya' went on the floors. You will see the Megastar the way I have always wanted to see him.

I feel fortunate that I am the closest with Chiranjeevi garu among directors by virtue of being his relative. I became a filmmaker with the sole aim of wielding the megaphone for Megastar's movie someday. I am living my dream today.

The amount of appreciation Chiranjeevi garu gives when the director attempts something new in terms of shot-making is enormous. He has sound technical knowledge.

We all refer to the Megastar as 'Annayya'. 'Bholaa Shankar' is about brotherly love and warmth. Who better could have suited it other than Chiranjeevi garu? Brotherhood and human trafficking are essential elements here. NCRB data says that girls have been abducted and trafficked by mafia elements across the country. The core story has been drawn from 'Vedalam' (Tamil). But the treatment in the two films is entirely different. Changes are to the tune of 70% compared to the Tamil original.

'Vedalam' was supposed to be remade with Pawan Kalyan garu as the hero. The project got shelved in 2016. I was destined to do the remake with annayya, I guess!

I and the Megastar used to discuss everything in detail. He shot for 'Acharya', 'Waltair Veerayya' and my film simultaneously at one point in time. My film needed him to speak in the Telangana dialect. He used to change into the character with ease once on set. He is spontaneous. Since he became a Megastar in the 1980s, a whole new generation has been born. But his swag and charisma have remained intact over the decades! He enjoyed amping up sister sentiment and playing a taxi driver.

Prabhas' 'Billa' achieved a remarkable feat, being shot and released within a mere 4.5 months after its initial launch, setting a new record. As its director, I proudly hold the image of being the fastest in the industry. In contrast, 'Bholaa Shankar' took an extended period to complete, primarily due to the elaborate preparations involved. The making was a task, not a risk.

Mahati Swara Sagar's music has brought out Megastar's youngish vibes. We didn't want to copy Anirudh's tunes from the original version. New tunes have been done entirely. When I pitched his name, Chiranjeevi garu didn't think twice before giving a thumbs-up.

Producer Anil Sunkara, too, has always dreamt of making a movie with Chiranjeevi garu. He is an extremely positive person. Although he is based out of the US, he made sure everything fell into place for 'Bholaa Shankar'. He got involved in production activities, budgeting, planning promotions, etc. I knew him even before he entered the film industry. He loves cinema and that's why he collaborated with another producer on 'Samajavaragamana'. He also presented 'Hidimbha'.

I urge the audience to watch 'Bholaa Shankar' before his birthday this month! 

Updated on August 8, 2023