The Oh Baby, Ala Modalaindi filmmaker holds forth on her upcoming release Anni Manchi Sakunamule and shares why it’ll break new ground within the family drama genre
Last Updated: 09.27 AM, May 17, 2023
Nandini Reddy, like most of her filmmaker counterparts, is generally a bundle of nerves a day before her film release, but she’s experiencing a strange sense of detachment with Anni Manchi Sakunamule. She has given it everything she’s got and it’s now upto the audiences to react to it. Interestingly Nandini ideated the script much before Oh Baby and it took nearly four-five years for it to come to fruition.
As the Santosh Soban, Malvika Nair starrer tests its fate at the theatres tomorrow, OTTplay.com caught up with the filmmaker for a chat.
Finding one’s niche within a familiar space
While writing a story, I don’t visualise anything as a ‘beaten-to-death’ genre and you only take something forward when you’re excited by the idea. Even if it’s a familiar setup, the story isn’t only about the two people falling in love; it’s about seven people, their conflicts and what constitutes their world. The story is set in a fictitious town Victoriapuram and its historicity is also crucial for the film.
Lending a personality to a fictitious town
Victoriapuram earns its name because two people, who had coffee estates in a village, used to supply coffee beans to Queen Victoria. However, they part ways owing to an incident and there’s a tussle among the families to inherit their legacy. The people, their ambitions aren’t any different from what you see in the cities; one of the pivotal characters goes abroad to study as well.
Their lifestyle is still unique. The day unfolds differently for its residents, nature is integral to their life. You won’t notice any coffee shops or malls in the film. They go trekking, the hero takes to knitting because he’s seen his mother/grandmother do it all the time. The film unfolds across four generations and we’ve made a conscious effort to bring freshness into the casting.
‘Every character has its own identity’
When you refer to someone as a Bommarillu father in a film, you only remember Prakash Raj’s equation with his son and don’t know much about his persona. However, Anni Manchi Sakunamule tries to understand his psyche and explore why someone is reacting to a situation in a particular way. The characters will stay in your mind long after the film’s over.
People may call Hum Aapke Hain Kaun a three-hour long wedding video today, but when you come out of it, all characters register so well in your mind that you can elaborate about them for over five minutes. In a film featuring an ensemble cast, the challenge is to deal with many character arcs and also keep an eye on the runtime.
‘One of finest climaxes I’ve written’
In most of my films, I build a foundation to the characters and the conflict and preserve all its richness for the second half. While the premise of Oh Baby and the fantasy element are established in the first half, the soul of the film is reserved for the post-intermission segment. Surprisingly, in the climax, one person after the other keeps giving speeches and I had to still make it look convincing.
In most films, you see people realising their follies, transforming and the entire family comes together magically in the end. For Anni Manchi Sakunamule, the final stretch is my career-best. I can confidently say this is the best climax I’ve written to date. My writer came up with a four-page long dialogue but I abandoned it to stay true to the characters and portray the situation as authentically as possible. The character hardly have anything to say by the end and we communicate their thoughts through silences.
The story behind the title
While Anni Manchi Sakunamule certainly has an element of nostalgia with the song, there’s a larger purpose to it. The film begins with a tragedy. I’ve tried to suggest that every setback in life teaches you something important and you don’t need to treat it negatively. The tragedy is not necessarily bad to your life, it’s a stepping stone towards something beautiful.
The journey of the film, associating with an illustrious banner
The idea struck me some time before Oh Baby and producers Swapna, Priyanka Dutt locked the proposal when I had the bound script ready. It underwent several revisions over time; you can’t be adamant that it has to stay the way it’s originally written. The film began amidst stringent lockdown restrictions, took its own course because of the dates of the ensemble cast, permissions in locations.
Nag Ashwin came up with a few suggestions after watching the rushes and we reshot some portions. Our motto was to come up with a winning product. The banner (Vyjayanthi Movies) has consistently delivered blockbusters recently - Yevade Subrahmanyam, Mahanati, Jathi Ratnalu, Sita Ramam - and there was pressure to succeed. Amidst a group of marathoners, you don’t want to fall behind. With a good release slot, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
On a final note
Like most of my films (except for Oh Baby), I am not expecting a bombastic opening or records. I’ve made a relatable, entertaining family drama. I’m quite relaxed. Regardless of you liking the film or not, you’ll definitely come out appreciating the performances. I won’t compare Santosh or Malvika to the previous stars I’ve worked with but I can assure you they’ve done full justice to their parts.
Mickey J Meyer’s music is the soul of the film and there’s abundant scope in the screenplay for the composer to showcase his mettle. I told him he's the film's star. My next project, to be produced by Ram Talluri, is with Siddu Jonnalagadda, Samantha’s presence in the film will be confirmed once her health betters. You’ll see me deviating from my comfort zone - there won’t be marriages, joint families this time around.