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Exclusive! Producer Kalipu Madhu: With Rangamarthanda, our sole intention was to make a good film

The Krishna Vamsi directorial starring Prakash Raj, Ramya Krishna will introduce a new producer to Telugu cinema

Exclusive! Producer Kalipu Madhu: With Rangamarthanda, our sole intention was to make a good film
Kalipu Madhu
  • Srivathsan Nadadhur

Last Updated: 06.41 AM, Sep 21, 2022

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Filmmaker Krishna Vamsi’s much-anticipated drama Rangamarthanda marks the production debut for Kalipu Madhu of Raja Shyamala Entertainments. The Prakash Raj, Ramya Krishna starrer is the Telugu remake of the Marathi hit Nata Samrat and promises to be an incisive look at the moral decay of the society in the garb of a family drama. The icing on the cake is the music by Ilaiyaraaja.

In an interaction with OTTplay.com, Kalipu Madhu tells us his intent behind foraying to film production with a project that is driven by good storytelling than mainstream formulas or trends.

My roots and the liking for films:

I hail from Odisha and I’m originally a businessman. Odisha is a place with a lot of Telugu people and most Telugu films release there. I was a diehard fan of Chiranjeevi and never missed a single film of his at the theatres. Films always captured my interest and Kerintha filmmaker Sai Kiran Adivi is a good friend and I learnt the ropes of filmmaking while working with him.

More than passion, I am very fond of the visual medium and my love for it enhanced after I worked briefly for Sekhar Kammula’s Happy Days. Like a common man’s rare chance at filmdom, I guess I was destined to meet Krishna Vamsi. We hit it off very well and he trusted me with my instincts through our conversations.

Kalipu Madhu
Kalipu Madhu

The journey towards Rangamarthanda:

Rangamarthanda is my first production under Raja Shyamala Entertainments. I would call Krishna Vamsi (garu) my guide, brother, and well-wisher. When he and Prakash Raj were so passionate about a film, I couldn’t say no. Moreover, it was a remake of a Marathi blockbuster Nata Samrat, a beautiful film and I considered it my privilege to produce it.

On the sets of Rangamarthanda with Brahmanandam
On the sets of Rangamarthanda with Brahmanandam

I was honoured by the prospect of working with so many legends in my first film — Krishna Vamsi, Prakash Raj, Ramya Krishna, Ilaiyaraaja, Brahmanandam and the late Sirivennela Seetharama Sastri. The fact that I was working with people of such great reputation increased my responsibility to deliver the goods. I made sure the same discipline and determination rubbed onto my team.

Krishna Vamsi garu is a man of ethics and taught me many things during the making - abiding by certain principles, the need to pay people on time and honour commitments a day before the specified time. My journey with Rangamarthanda became smoother because I took his words seriously.

On the sets of Rangamarthanda
On the sets of Rangamarthanda

The decision to invest in a film that doesn’t subscribe to the mainstream formula:

There are two sides to the coin. I am a very spiritual person and a believer in God and my banner’s name too is dedicated to the almighty. I am too devotional for a person of my age, pray, and chant regularly. I believe the spiritual side of my life has given me the power to make instinctive decisions and I believed in Rangamarthanda completely when the opportunity came my way.

On the commercial front, Nata Samrat was a movie that made big money at the box office and collected over 40 crores - it was the Baahubali of the Marathi industry then. Every film needs a strong emotion to resonate with audiences and the film has that in abundance. The film is the story of every parent and family and I felt, with the reach that Telugu cinema has and our patronage for such dramas, Rangamarthanda would be a good bet at the box office.

Kalipu Madhu
Kalipu Madhu

My idea of film production, trends and how a producer needs to approach a project:

Out of the 100 movies that release in theatres, only 1 movie makes it big at the box office. The problem here is that the other 99 films try to ape that hit film. One needs to make a practical assessment of the movie and its business prospects, paying heed to the cast, crew and director. People get swayed by the sum they get for OTT and Hindi dubbing rights and forget the basics.

It’s important to observe the entire process for two-three films before taking the plunge as a producer. Putting money into a film and even making it is manageable, but the problems begin when you need to take your product into the market and what’s even tougher is to make profits out of the entire exercise. I am also learning the tricks of the trade.

The lesson here is to not put your money blindly into a product without knowing its scope. One shouldn’t overly depend on anyone and trust their instincts while making a film. All the business decisions for Rangamarthanda were taken by me and I’ve done my best.

Telugu cinema’s over-reliance on stars to draw crowds

One thing is clear - the Telugu industry is hero-centric and the business revolves around them. Every producer books a certain hero because investing in them would give them decent returns and it’s alright to look at it commercially. However, with Rangamarthanda, my only intention was to make a good film first and trust it to do well at the theatres. I’m confident that my instincts will pay off. The commercial success of the film will prove that you can defy trends and still make money. I hope audiences feel the same.

Kalipu Madhu with Krishna Vamsi
Kalipu Madhu with Krishna Vamsi

On Krishna Vamsi, the person:

As a human being, Krishna Vamsi garu is very straightforward and has firm conviction over everything he takes up. For a man of his stature, it would have been easy for him to move on to another project after Rangamarthanda’s shoot and manage other aspects later. However, he had the same commitment to the film over 2-3 years and his value system is truly inspiring.

My need for spirituality and other future projects:

Spirituality is something that everyone needs regardless of their profession. It gives people a sense of discipline, (not referring to waking up early in the morning, but to) have a stable mind, not overthink, focus on their work and have a matured outlook towards life. I am producing Annam with Krishna Vamsi again and have two-three projects in the pipeline.

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