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Directing Nagarjuna in Kedi

Last updated on: February 10, 2010 14:50 IST

Directing Nagarjuna in Kedi

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Radhika Rajamani in Hyderabad

The love for the movies proved too strong for engineer-turned-filmmaker, Kiran Kumar.

Kiran entered the world of Telugu cinema seven years ago as assistant director. He got an opportunity to write for Yuva, a television serial on MAA TV owned by none other than superstar Nagarjuna. Subsequently Nagarjuna requested Kiran to script a film for him, which he did. And the result is Kedi which releases this Friday.

Radhika Rajamani caught up with Kiran for more on his directorial debut.

From television to Kedi. How did you get to direct your first film?

I was an assistant director and worked with many directors like N Shankar and Prakash Kovelamudi (director of the National Award winning Bommalata -- A Bellyful of Dream).

Since I wrote stuff for television too, I helped my friend Sabiha in the Telugu serial Yuva on Maa TV. I narrated a few scenes to Nagarjuna sir who was very impressed. He then asked me to write the whole serial including the dialogues. After that he asked me to script a film in a different format; a different way of story telling.

You are directing a superstar in your first film and you got a good producer Siva Prasad Reddy under the Kamakshi Kala Movies banner. How does it feel?

It's a good platform to start with especially for a different film. If it works, it's good. I feel the audience is changing.


Image: Kiran Kumar

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'Kedi is nothing like Ocean's Eleven'

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How did you get the idea for Kedi?

Like I said, the film is in a different format. So I pick characters who are real. I created the characters by not looking at the image of the hero. I attempted to tell the story in a different way by creating a new plot.

There were quite a few titles being considered for the film like Rummy, Mosagadu etc before you zeroed in on Kedi. How and why did you choose Kedi?

Rummy was the original title. The character is called Ramesh and Rummy was an apt title. However, the title was already in use so finally we decided on Kedi.

Is the film inspired by any movie?

There is talk of it being like Catch Me If You Can, Ocean's Eleven, etc but it's nothing like them. The similarity may be in terms of the character.

Is Kedi about casinos and gambling?

No. The film starts with a boy and his transfer to Kedi. It's about a character who gets into tough situations and becomes a conman and then helps people. I have used characters from daily life.


Image: A scene from Kedi

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'Nagarjuna is good at improvising'

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What is Nagarjuna's role? The pictures show him playing rummy. Is it a character with grey shades?

Yes, there are some grey shades to the role. The very fact that Nagarjuna sir accepted the film is a big thing. He felt bored doing regular stuff. I should give him the credit for accepting this kind of script.

What were Nagarjuna's inputs?

He gave inputs which were helpful to me. He doesn't get involved in the script too much. He is good at improvising.

Were you nervous directing him?

No. He never questioned me on the sets. He had confidence in me and that gave me more confidence. Since I had known him personally, I was not nervous. We never had doubts about what we were doing. I am always cool and calm. Tension doesn't help. It was an honour to direct a person like Nag sir and a big responsibility too. As he has been in the industry for more than two decades, directing him was something special. In fact he was more like my partner -- we used to bounce ideas and have discussions.


Image: A scene from Kedi

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'Linda plays a foreigner'

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How was Mamta Mohandas as the heroine?

I didn't want people to see Mamta as a typical heroine. She's hard working and dedicated. She's done a good job.

There is also a foreign girl in the film. How did you cast her?

Linda plays a foreigner. She is part of the story. I had seen her in Kabul Express and since I wanted someone who didn't look too blonde, I chose her. Moreover she lives in Mumbai and that made it easier to get dates.

There's Ankur who starred in the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionnaire too...

Ankur is a theatre artist who has been doing small roles in films. I liked his performances. I did a screen test for him before choosing him. He has done fantastic work. He learnt the language and understood the dialogues.

Then, we have Sayaji Shinde. He grasped his role as well as the dialogues well. Bharani garu has a small but important role.


Image: A scene from Kedi

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'We shot 80 per cent of the film in Goa'

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What about the crew?

I have a good technical crew. Sarvesh Murari is the director of photography (it's the first time he's working with a superstar though he has done a few films before). Srikkanth (an architect) is an art director who is making his debut with this film. Shravan is the editor (his earlier project was Gamyam). All of them brought fresh perspective to the film.

Sandeep Chowta has scored the music for the film...

The music is doing well. I didn't want typical songs or duets. The songs are part of the story and not insertions barring one song to woo the audience. Sandeep is good. His background score is good.

Can we expect high voltage action in the film?

It's an action packed film.

Where was the film shot?

We shot 80 per cent of the film in Goa as the story is set there, then, Guntur and Hyderabad with a song in Greece.

Any future projects?

I'm waiting to see how Kedi fares; if it allows me to try out different screenplays. I would still like to do what I want to do.

Who are the directors you admire?

Ram Gopal Varma who inspired me to become a director, Krishnavamsi (in Telugu cinema), Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Mel Gibson.


Image: A scene from Kedi

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