The filmmaker behind projects like Prema Ishq Kaadhal, Pill-a, Commitmental talks about his next OTT film, Senapathi, starring Rajendra Prasad
Director Pavan Sadineni has never been more excited as he's now! He's beaming with pride and satisfaction about his upcoming OTT film on aha, Senapathi, that marks the digital debut of veteran actor Rajendra Prasad. The filmmaker, who last directed Commitmental for the same platform, is confident that the web film will be his career-defining project for more reasons than one. He has sunk his teeth into a drama, convincing Rajendra Prasad to appear without a wig for the first time in his second innings in a role that wouldn't have him tickle your funny bones. And boy, the intense sneak-peek into Senepathi released by aha proves why Pavan's gamble is totally worth it.
"I'm someone who grew up watching Rajendra Prasad's (sir) films, right from Aa Okkati Adakku. He's such a versatile actor but the industry has looked up to him more so for his comedy. Comedy just happens to be one dimension of his vast repertoire. Very often, we have people looking down on our industry greats while comparing them to Hollywood actors. Being one of his biggest fans, I wanted to pay my ode to his acting genius with Senapathi. He gave me a tight hug after the narration and was game to do anything that it took to play the role. It's a film that'll make his fans swell with pride and celebrate him all over again," Pavan says.
Justifying why the veteran is a gift to the industry, he tells, "You just can't believe that the man in his 60s at all. He'll run, jump, climb with the enthusiasm of a teenager. All you need to do is to win his faith as a storyteller. Once he trusts you, there's no looking back. He's always talking about young directors, new scripts and is looking to better himself. There's a scene with 12 pages of dialogue that he delivered in a single take and I was at his feet after the shot. I was planning to shoot the scene for over 6 hours and he ends up finishing it in 20 minutes straight. Rajendra Prasad (garu) was so confident about the film that he told me his career would henceforth be referred to as 'before and after Senapathi'. You need to watch the film to know why."
"I've largely worked with newcomers in my films, web shows and a significant chunk of my time goes in moulding them according to their roles. With Senapathi, I realised how experienced actors make the job of a director so easy. People with one or two hits today throw their weight around so much and it's humbling to see a man who's been in the industry for nearly 45 years stay so grounded. I can't say how happy I am to be introducing him to the OTT space. As an actor, he doesn't believe in words like 'theatrical film', OTT and all. He just felt that Senapathi is a story that deserves to be told and came on board immediately."
Senapathi will help him break new ground as a storyteller, Pavan is confident. "Lot of people still identify me as the Prema Ishq Kaadhal filmmaker and presume I'm more comfortable executing romantic comedies. I hope to change the scenario with Senapathi. As a storyteller, drama fascinates me the most. I complete ten years in the film industry soon and I believe this film will be my game changer. I don't even mind calling this my 'relaunch'. Though I was clear that this would be an OTT film right from the beginning, our team was keen to take it to the theatres too. It's liberating to direct a film in the digital medium because you don't need to worry about pleasing all kinds of audiences and can stick to your gut instinct."
The film is produced by Gold Box Entertainments, spearheaded by Sushmita Konidela and Vishnu Prasad. Sharing his experience of collaborating with the production house, Pavan states, "Sushmita Konidela (garu) understands the needs and challenges of film production quite well and it made my job so comfortable as a director. We shot the film in less than a month. The execution was smooth because the pre-production work, which went on for nearly four months, was extremely meticulous. We planned our scenes in the location well in advance and there was no scope for any delay." The post-production of Senapathi is in progress and the show is slated to release in November.