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Krishnavamsi's film on the Mahatma

Last updated on: September 30, 2009 

'Munnabhai is light, but Mahatma is hard-hitting'

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Radhika Rajamani in Hyderabad

Krishnavamsi is known for his powerful and meaningful films on social issues wherein he weaves in messages rather skillfully.

Krishnavamsi is also known to extract excellent performances from his artistes. His last film Sasirekha Parinayam featuring Tarun and Genelia D' Souza had an average run at the box office.

His latest Telugu film Mahatma, the 100th film of actor Srikkanth will be releasing on Gandhi Jayanthi (October 2).

In this interview, Krishnavamsi talks about the big-budget feature Mahatma.

Did you decide to direct Srikkanth's 100th film or did he approach you to do so? Both of you are good friends too...

We have been good friends for about two decades since the days when he was a budding artiste and I, an assistant director. We have been travelling together. When we did Khadgam (which was his 75th film, I think), he asked me to do his 100th film. Knowing his capabilities and given my confidence in him as an actor, I agreed to do it.


Image: A scene from Mahatma

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'The character follows Gandhism'

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How did you decide upon the story? The film is called Mahatma. Is it inspired by Gandhi's life?

The idea sparked off a year ago. One of the national channels conducted a survey on Gandhi by going to malls and multiplexes and asking kids about him. Most of them said that he's the father of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and the father of the nation.

Even though Gandhi fought for the country's freedom, the irony was that people did not know about him. I felt bad that this kind of situation is prevailing. That crystallised into an idea.

Is the lead character playing a role like Gandhi?

Kind of. Being a follower of Gandhi, the character follows Gandhism.

Lage Raho Munnabhai brought back Gandhi. In what way are you bringing back Gandhi and how is this film different?

You will have to watch the film to find out. Munnabhai was narrated in a lighter vein, whereas my film, Mahatma, is a hard-hitting, emotional and dramatic film.


Image: A scene from Mahatma

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'I want to say that Gandhism is not dead'

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Your films are powerful and deal with social problems/issues. Messages are woven in deftly. What are you trying to convey through Mahatma?

Maybe I want to say that Gandhism is not dead. Still we can follow Gandhi, he's not just a name on our currency, a photograph in government offices or a statue. We should understand him.

Can you tell us about how you evolved the character played by Srikkanth? Did you read about Gandhi? Did you meet his great grandson Tusshar Gandhi in this regard too?

We do research for every movie. For Mahatma I read all the books I could lay my hands on including the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi. I also saw all the films. I didn't meet Tusshar Gandhi while scripting or in the production stage.

What is Mahatma about?

Basically it's about the political scenario in India or any Third World country as the situation is the same everywhere. What kind of leadership we have and how people are living -- lethargic, careless and irresponsible -- that constitutes the backdrop. One guy from the herd becomes a human being and Gandhiji acts as a catalyst in his becoming a human being.


Image: A scene from Mahatma

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'Mahatma will show people what kind of an actor Srikkanth is'

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How was Bhavana cast? What is her role in the film?

She plays a person who is a follower of Gandhian ideology and Gandhism. She's the person who puts sense into the lead protagonist -- makes him understand about Gandhi. I was looking out for someone who is a domestic beauty who could perform a typical South Indian with homely looks, and Bhavana fitted the role. She has done a good job.

How has Srikkanth performed?

You have to watch the film to believe it. This film will show people what kind of an actor Srikkanth is. His histrionics, modulation, expressions will come as a pleasant surprise to everyone. He is completely a director's artiste.


Image: A scene from Mahatma

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'I don't like art films'

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Where did you shoot the film?

It was shot in Hyderabad with just a song filmed in Alappuzha.

Tusshar Gandhi was invited to the audio launch. Any particular reason for calling him?

I just wanted people to know Gandhiji's family -- his descendants. I knew him during the days of Hey Ram when he made an appearance in the film directed by Kamal Haasan. So I thought it was appropriate to call him for one function.

Have you shot the film in a commercial format with songs?

Yes, it is a commercial movie. I don't like art format. I believe films should entertain and educate. Whatever goodness comes through should be by way of entertainment.


Image: A scene from Mahatma

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'The music of Mahatma is a super hit'

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How is the response to the music? You have a new music director Vijay Anthony (who is well-known in Tamil)...

My films have good music. My wife and son play one of his songs regularly. Later I got a call from Vijay's wife (as Vijay scored the music for the Tamil remake of Chandamama) who tried through Navdeep as Vijay wanted to meet me. 

I met him and we hit it off instantly. He brought his keyboard and played some tunes. He is talented and I liked his humility and enthusiasm in making all the effort in meeting me and playing some music for me.

He expressed an interest to work with me. He is also a sound engineer. I liked him and his knowledge of music and we agreed to work together. The music of Mahatma is a super hit.


Image: A scene from Mahatma

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