The social media celebrity, who became a popular face after Mom and Son webseries during the lockdown, kicked off the shoot of his first movie on Friday in Hyderabad
For Malayali youngster Kaarthik Shankar, the lockdown was a huge blessing as it catapulted him to social media fame, after his webseries with his mother titled Mom and Son went viral. The actor-director-scriptwriter today began the shoot of his debut directorial. But not in Malayalam. He has opted for a Telugu film, starring Kiran Abbavaram and Sanjana Anand, to kick start his directorial career in feature films. In an exclusive chat with OTTplay, Kaarthik tells us why he chose Telugu, the changes he made to the script and more.
A lot of people who have watched your work would have thought that you would make your debut in Malayalam, especially after teaming up with Aju Varghese for the final few episodes of Mom and Son. So, how did the Telugu film happen?
If you ask me why Telugu, it’s because I got a confirmed call to direct a movie only from this industry. In 2016, I had come to Hyderabad as part of a short film competition and I had met the producers of this movie, Kodi Divyaa Entertainments, as they had organised the contest. However, we didn’t talk about movies at all. But when they had planned their first movie, they thought about me because of my short film and informed me that if I have a good script, they are ready to back it. I was a bit hesitant because it’s my directorial debut and that too in another language.
I understand Telugu because since my childhood, I used to watch Telugu movies. Growing up, my father used to encourage me to watch more Telugu and Tamil movies. But this also happened when I was planning a film in Malayalam and had bounced off a thread to Aju chettan. He used to keep asking what’s happening with the script. So, I was in two minds and I sent the producers of this film, a draft of a feel-good movie, hoping they would reject it because they would prefer a ‘mass’ film. But they liked it and told me that they were also looking for such a subject. That’s how the project got greenlit.
Tell us about the cast and crew of the film.
Kiran Abbavaram, whose last film was a blockbuster, will play the male lead, while Kannada actress Sanjana Anand, who is playing the female lead in Salaga, is the heroine of our movie. The film’s music is by Mani Sharma sir.
For the Telugu movie, did you have to rework your initial script?
Yes, there are a few changes. When I wrote it for Malayalam, it had more realistic elements and the pace was also on the slower side. Where there were two songs, it has now gone up to six. There are two fight sequences too. So, we have increased the scale without tampering its soul of the story.
While you had done several short films over the years, the past year especially the series that you have been part of, catapulted you to fame. Did that have any say on you landing this project?
The producers had been following my work because I used to send them the links of my videos since 2016. However, they weren’t aware of the increase of viewers during the lockdown. They had judged that I had potential based on a three-minute short film and that’s how they reached out to me. They only got to know that I was doing a series with my mother later on.
A lot of filmmakers would want their first film to play in theatres. With the pandemic, has there been a call on if the movie is a theatrical or OTT release?
Theatres are open in the Telugu states at 100% occupancy and our movie will also be a theatrical release; it has been designed in such a way.
Are you nervous or excited about kicking off the shoot?
If this was a Malayalam film, I wouldn’t have been too worried about it being my first film because I have worked in a lot of short films before. That’s not the case for this movie. I am tense because firstly, it’s being made in another language. Secondly, it’s the first movie from acclaimed director Kodi Ramakrishna’s banner. A lot of people are expecting big things. Kodi Ramakrishna sir’s daughter Kodi Divya Deepthi is producing this movie and this movie is their first attempt to carry on the legacy. So, that pressure is there.