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Dasara director Srikanth Odela: More than collections, my focus is to tell a story as genuinely as possible

The first-time filmmaker throws light on his experiences that shaped the Nani, Keerthy Suresh starrer

Dasara director Srikanth Odela: More than collections, my focus is to tell a story as genuinely as possible
Srikanth Odela

Last Updated: 05.45 PM, Mar 29, 2023


Nani, Keerthy Suresh starrer Dasara is all set to test its fortunes at the box office tomorrow. The film, to release in over 2500 screens across the globe in five languages, marks the directorial debut of Srikanth Odela, a former associate of Sukumar. Ahead of Dasara’s release, he discussed the many tales, experiences that shaped the film in a media interaction.


Early days of Dasara:

I got the story approved during Dasara in 2018. I didn’t write it keeping Nani in mind, he came on board only later. The idea was on my mind much before Rangasthalam (which I assisted), I grew up hearing the tales about a real incident near my village. I gave it a commercial exterior.

My father is a Singareni coal mines employee. Veerlapally is my grandmother’s native village, I used to go there during holidays, spent a lot of time there and it has had a major influence on my life. The story is based on an incident in that village.

Why did I assist director Sukumar?

I watched Sukumar’s Jagadam in my 10th grade and was inspired by his style of filmmaking. I stood in front of his house seeking an opportunity for over four years and he asked me to do a short film. He liked it and got me on board for Nannaku Prematho. I worked with him till Rangasthalam, sought direction opportunities later and Sudhakar Cherukuri okayed my script (Dasara).

Why couldn’t I find a Telugu girl for Vennela’s role?

I had to wait for nearly two and a half years for Nani’s dates after he okayed the script - there were films like Ante Sundaraniki, Shyam Singha Roy in between. I was looking to cast a Telugu girl and was searching for the right face for at least 8 months. I was very serious about my efforts. Nani was confident I wouldn’t find one, but noticing my excitement to cast a local girl, he gave me a go ahead. His words proved true and I couldn’t find anyone.

Keerthy has good memory power and grasps nuances of language quickly. She never faced any issues with the slang. There is definitely a problem in casting local female faces, but I am not sure what’s stopping them from coming into films. Nani told the problem will persist even after I make five films. Whenever possible, I’ll always try to cast a Telugu girl for my stories henceforth.

The idea of a pan-Indian film:

I truly don’t understand the idea of a pan-Indian film. I have a memory of watching Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham with my family. Even without understanding a single Hindi line, we cried witnessing the character’s plight. When the emotion and feel is strong, a good film will cut across barriers. It was a call that Nani and Sudhakar took because they felt the emotion will resonate with audiences beyond languages. I am not nervous; I only focused on how genuinely we’re telling the story and if it sounded authentic in every language.

Rangasthalam memories and learning the ropes of filmmaking:

I don’t think I learnt much during the making of Rangasthalam. To get the junior artistes ready, checking their costumes colours and the shot, it took me about 10 am in the morning . I couldn’t quite understand how Sukumar was filming a shot or telling a story. However, I saw the fondness and the fear with which he made films.

For someone of Sukumar’s stature and skill, he need not be worried. I got a good grasp of filmmaking technique during COVID-19. I just watched a few filmmakers and saw how they’re stating their point in a certain number of scenes.

Care for storytelling more than financials:

I don’t care much for collections and only focus on how genuinely I am telling my story, without manipulating audiences. Even with budget, the producer used to caution me when I was going overboard and I used to work accordingly. Creating a set of the village was more practical and controlling people was easier this way. We finished the film in 109 working days.

Casting Dheekshith as Soori:

We thought of many names before the shoot; it’s a crucial role. I liked his performance in Meet Cute and a couple of the ADs who also worked on that show had good words to say about him. We auditioned him and felt did well; he had a raw appeal.

Roping in Santhosh Narayanan:

I wanted to work with a composer who would give me time and freedom to express what I felt. With my limited patience, I can’t keep chasing one person after the other. Though we considered several options before shoot, there was scope for discussions with Santhosh sir. I brought a lot of band members from my town to compose Dhoom Dhaam Dostaan. He may be a Tamilian but he understands directors very well.

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