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M.L. NARASIMHAM

Venkat Kuchipudi fulfils his 14-year dream with his directorial debut, `Modati Cinema'.



JUST DIFFERENT Good artistes are a value-addition to the script, feels Venkat (extreme right).

Films always fascinated him. Not just its glitz and glamour. Its entertainment format and the medium's reach. He nurtured an ambition to become a filmmaker even as a student. When he said he will join film institute, his parents sternly told him to pursue academics. When he obtained a degree and still interested in films as a career, he approached Ram Gopal Varma for an assistant director job. But this time too he met with little success.

"Ram Gopal Varma told me, it is a waste of time (to work as an assistant to a director). If you know how to tell a story go and do a film. By watching movies you can learn the intricacies of filmmaking better," recalls Venkat Kuchipudi.

He took the advice seriously and started watching films with an eye of a director. And finally he has realised his 14-year dream by making his debut with Modati Cinema. In between these years, whatever he did for a living was connected to films.

"I was the first to launch an e-commerce website on film music in Telugu. From the beginning, I have this attitude that I should not do what others have already done. So while searching opportunities for survival, the idea of a Telugu music portal struck to me. `www.Tollywood music.com' became a household name in those days among the Telugu film music lovers in India and abroad, that www.India Info.com has shown interest to buy the portal. I sold it to them and joined them as head of movies and music section. By the time I left India Info it had over a lakh Telugu music albums in its list, a record." Not content with records in the cyber world, Venkat decided to rigorously pursue a career in films. He was naturally elated when Kunduru Ramana Reddy came forward to produce his script.

"I wrote the script and waited for four years to make it into a film. I do not believe in writing scripts to suit the actors. Rather, it is the other way round," says Venkat nonchalantly. "Good artistes can make a difference to the script. I did not work under any one. But watching films from various countries in International film festivals and our own films helped me acquire a great knowledge about the process of filmmaking. May be the good films I watched had a subconscious influence on me. I have in me bits and parts of all the great directors in the world," laughs Venkat.

Positive work culture

He says it was not difficult for him to handle the shoot as he knew the entire team members since a very long time. "I had this advantage. When you can create work culture and leave positive vibrations, it will have a positive effect on the negative you shoot," smiles the debutant.

To be different from other filmmakers, he shot the songs in Sikkim, the first Telugu film unit to do so. "We shot two songs at Um Tang and Changu Lake, six hour journey from the capital Gangtok . It is such a dangerous terrain for film shoots, every day we had three to four close shaves. But the adventure is worth its risk as you can find the virgin beauty of scenic Sikkim in the background of the songs. All credit goes to my cinematographer Sameer Reddy. He is a filmmaker's delight. Pretty fast at work with excellent output."

Modati Cinema, the title sounds crazy. "We are all newcomers-the producer, the director, the heroine, the music director. The hero had only a couple flops. Then why would anybody be interested in such a project. Now the title has generated interest. I am projecting it as a love story. Once they watch the movie, then the film becomes a topic and the title a non-topic."

He has a word of praise for his music director Swaraj. "A friend suggested his name. Swaraj came with his guitar and played a melody. Being a melody lover, I instantly struck a rapport with him. Added to his fabulous music Seetharama Sastry's lyrics, you have a winner. Sastry's lyrics travel with the theme. We have used live recording facility with 65 musicians playing. And each song highlights one instrument. My cinema is not loaded with heavy drama. It has loads of humour and very good music. People's tolerance levels are at low ebb today. So we have to give them relief. I tried to provide that," says the filmmaker.

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