Debutant director Shouryuv is confident that 'Hi Nanna' is distinctive in its own right. Ahead of the film's theatrical release on December 7, he says that the film's trailer had an agenda: to let the audience know what they would be watching.
Catch him talk about his film at length.
I have no film background. My father has been into real estate, while my mother is a home-maker. I have two siblings, both of whom are younger to me. I am a qualified doctor. I have always been interested in cinema. I completed MBBS at the behest of my parents, who felt that I needed to have an academic qualification. I have previously worked in the direction department of films like 'Jaguar' (Kannada) and the Tamil remake of 'Arjun Reddy', 'Aditya Varma'. SS Rajamouli is my biggest inspiration.
When I wrote the story of 'Hi Nanna', I first gauged the film's likeability factor. Choosing the cast came at a later stage. You first have to believe that your story is saleable. There is no limit to your imagination. You would fancy your chances with someone as huge as Mahesh Babu (smiles).
After Nani liked the story, I spent six months on pre-production. He didn't suggest drastic changes. In the process of script development, I came up with a few changes on my own volition. The bond between father and daughter, their bond with Mrunal Thakur's character... Everything kept me excited during the writing stage.
Nani is a celebrity photographer because his profession aids the story. That's why I made the choice.
We have had movies wherein a single father falls in love all over again. 'Santosham' is an example. Before that, we had 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hain'. 'Hi Nanna' is different from those films in some ways. The situations are fictional but inspired by real life. A single father is 100% responsible for bringing up his offspring because there is no mother to share his duties. Everything, as a result, revolves around the child as far as the father is concerned. That's what Nani's character is about; he pivots his life around his daughter, played by Baby Kiara.
'Hi Nanna' is different from usual love stories in terms of its high-pitched emotional beats. There is no trace of vulgarity. It's a very clean and personal story.
Hesham Abdul Wahab's background music is entirely story-oriented. It tells a story in itself. After this movie, he will become an acclaimed composer in Telugu cinema. Same goes with Sanu John's cinematography.
Choosing Mrunal was my choice. I had watched her Hindi movie 'Toofan' on Amazon Prime Video. I felt she perfectly suited the character in my story. Her character is vulnerable and emotional, and breaks down on a couple of occasions. I wanted to cast someone who looks beautiful when she cries. Baby Kiara is gifted and intelligent. She is very talented at the age of 6; she has the maturity of a 13-year-old. I didn't have to work so hard to extract performance from her. My job was to just explain the scene. She can reel off all her lines from the movie in sleep. At times, I would communicate through her mother. Shruti Haasan has a smaller part in terms of screen time. However, her character is prominent and I don't want to say anything more as of now. There are a couple of surprises in store. We haven't revealed all the characters. There are a couple of out-of-syllabus characters.
I have never called 'Hi Nanna' a pan-Indian movie. It's a very nice movie that deserves to be watched by the audience from other languages.
'Hi Nanna' is a delicate story that has to be supported by unique dialogue, etc. It is challenging that way even though there are no grand fights and all of that.
Producer Mohan Cherukuri of Vyra Entertainments is someone I have had the luck to work with. Producer Vijender Reddy is like my brother. He is such a gentleman! I don't know whether the budget got shot up because I don't know what was the planned budget (laughs).