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Coming up with the perfect Leader

Last updated on: February 16, 2010 14:22 IST

Coming up with the perfect Leader

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Radhika Rajamani in Hyderabad

Leader is generating a lot of buzz and Sekhar Kammula, the award-winning director behind it, is largely responsible for this.

After all, he is the same man who gave us Telugu films like Anand, Godavari and Happy Days. These films show that Sekhar has his sensibilities in place. So any film of his is keenly anticipated as is the case with Leader.

The film marks the acting debut of Rana Daggubati (grandson of veteran producer D Rama Naidu, son of Suresh Babu and nephew of superstar Venkatesh), and two lovely girls Richa Gangopadhyaya and Priya Anand. AVM, one of the oldest and biggest production houses is the producer.

It is perhaps for the first time that huge sets -- created by national-award winning art director Thota Tharani -- have been created for Leader

Sekhar shares his experiences of directing the political drama with Radhika Rajamani.


Image: A scene from Leader

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'Leader may bring about a change in governance'

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Leader is in a different genre as compared to your previous films....

There's a perception that my genre has changed. My knowhow on the political front is quite high -- I keep in touch with what's happening in politics. I was looking for a subject with social issues. This should have happened long back given the fact that so many films are being made on political issues. Leader is fresh; applicable twenty years earlier or twenty years after. It is relevant as blatantly wrong things are happening.

The issue was there. A film was waiting to be made. It was the quickest script that I wrote. But the making took time though I wanted to do it before the elections. We tend to ignore things. We talk of accountability, integrity and corruption but have accepted things. A 2000-crore scam is easily forgotten. Somebody has to address the issue. I have the audience so I can say it.

The middle class does not want to go to the police station; they feel going there is dangerous. They prefer to settle things among themselves. It's the same with the courts. We say we hate politicians but we vote and after that we don't bother. There are millions of stories to be told. Leader is one and may bring about a change in governance.

You had indicated somewhere that the trigger for Leader came from watching news channels. Do you think there is a paucity of true leaders today? Is that what made you write the script?

After Happy Days, I spent time looking at politicians and hearing all their tall promises of development and change. That triggered the idea. Leader looks at the differences between a politician and a true leader. It says let's celebrate a true leader.

Image: A scene from Leader

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'Leader is not inspired'

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So, in that sense, is your script reflecting reality or is it part-fictional?

It's hundred per cent reality. It's not candy floss or dream situation. It is politically correct.

What is Leader about?

The film is the story of a guy's journey. He becomes a politician, a manipulator who then becomes a leader. I don't say it's a solution for all problems. It's a story which touches on certain key problems.

What kind of research did you do for the film?

Research was all around me. I was just reacting to the surroundings and am using the film as a tool.

Leader is touted as a political drama. Were you inspired by family politics while writing it?

No, it's not inspired. People don't interest me. In this film, the drive was a bad system, who will take charge, who will become the leader. It was the system that drove me to write it. The coincidences/resemblances are being talked about.

Were you inspired by Mahatma Gandhi while scripting Leader for he is the country's true leader?

Gandhi is the only leader I can count on. I referred to Gandhi a lot in the sense I had a checklist (which I consulted often) of characteristics/attributes. Gandhi was simple, honest, determined, non-violent and a visionary. He defined what a leader should be like. 

Image: A scene from Leader

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'Rana is excellent in the film'

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Is there any particular time frame or socio-political backdrop that the film is set in?

In any field, there is a leader. He has to lead with conviction, has to have self-respect, be honest. I chose the political field, particularly governance. The hero is the head of state, so it's a story of the state. He is going to bring change and the film looks at fundamental changes in the system which will have a long-term difference. It's very contemporary.

How did you cast Rana in the lead role?

The role demanded a young man with the look of a leader about him. I wanted someone fresh and tall with a towering personality. Rana has the height and thus suited the role. He is excellent in the film. You wouldn't guess he is a newcomer.

You have two heroines in a political drama...

Many men and women come into the young man's life. These two girls (Richa and Priya) are part of that. This is Priya's first Telugu film though she has acted in Tamil films before. For Richa, this is her maiden film.

AVM is a big banner. How did you get them?

I met Guhan sometime back and he said the company was interested in making a film with me. When I thought of this story, I realised it is a big-budget film which required a big producer. AVM taking up production was one of the best things to have happened to the film.

Image: A scene from Leader

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'I expected problems but the Censor Board gave the movie a U certificate'

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How challenging was it to shoot this film? Has it been your toughest film till date?

In terms of scale, yes. Thota Tharani made a lot of sets. That was a new experience. It's a pleasure seeing them come alive. It took time and patience.

How did you decide to work with Mickey J Meyer (music director) again?

I wanted to use old songs that were used during the days of freedom struggle and mix it in the modern sense. I chose Mickey to do that. He did well.

You have shot the film in real locations too...

We went all over Andhra and Telangana.

Did you have any problems with the Censor Board?

I expected problems but they gave the movie a U certificate. The visuals were left alone. The members only suggested cuts in some dialogues. They in fact praised the film.

Do you want to convey anything through Leader?

We are looking at change. Every person has a wish-list. We say we are ready to vote and pay taxes if you are this leader. It's every person's wish-list. The film might make those who are in governance think about what people want. It could trigger a change in the 294 elected representatives. If they understand what people want then people don't need to agitate.

How are you promoting the film?

We have made Leader T-shirts (khadi) and caps with Leader logo which will be sold through the Internet. We're also planning to visit television channels and maybe colleges to promote it.

The film has raised a lot of expectations. Are you nervous?

No.

Image: A scene from Leader

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