Gargeyi Yellapragada headlines the film which hits theatres this weekend
Last Updated: 11.40 AM, Apr 19, 2023
Hello Meera, the first-of-its-kind road film, featuring only one actor - Evvariki Cheppoddu fame Gargeyi Yellapragada - is set to release in theatres this Friday. The thriller marks the directorial debut of Srinivasu Kakarla, a former associate of Bapu, who’s assisted the latter with the popular mythological show Bhagavatham and films like Sri Rama Rajyam, Radha Gopalam, Sundarakanda.
The story revolves around a woman Meera, who, on the cusp of marriage, realises that her ex has committed suicide and leaves behind a note blaming her for it. Owing to a series of misunderstandings, she is left stranded with no kith or kin coming to her rescue. Will she be able to save her marriage? The film unfolds over a car journey between Vijayawada and Hyderabad.
In an interaction with OTTplay.com, the director spoke of his inspiration behind making a single-character film. “The idea (to make a single-character film) was born out of my financial limitations. In the original script, the reactions of friends, parents, fiancee and other characters were to be juxtaposed visually while they were talking to Meera. When I had barely any resources left, I transformed their characters into voices and reimagined the film differently,” he says.
“During the shoot, I and my assistants prompted on behalf of the characters for Gargeyi to react according to the situation. It was important that the emotions of the characters were conveyed effectively through the voices, for her to perform well,” Srinivasu adds. He claims his experiences with Bapu worked to his advantage. The Muthyala Muggu filmmaker reportedly had a habit of making his assistants enact a scene and show it to actors before a shot was filmed.
“Bapu made us stand at specific positions, got us to perform and the actors reenacted what we did in front of the camera. Hence, most assistants of Bapu (garu) learn to act effortlessly. He conceives scenes beautifully and takes care of little nuances with care. I’ll call him a complete director; he’s a moving institution and I’m glad to have passed out of his school,” the director shares with pride.
While it’s easier for a character to register an impact when the voices are supported by visuals, the team’s challenges doubled in a single-character film during post-production. “During dubbing, we had to take specific care to ensure that the essence of the characters reflect in the voices and complement Gargeyi’s reactions.”
Despite having only one character, the story has many subplots - there are goons, there are misunderstandings, there’s realisation and tension; you can visualise all these emotions through the voices, the director assures. He was particular about casting a Telugu girl for the film and was close to casting a pan-Indian actress as a lead, who later opted out due to personal issues.
“When I was watching Evvariki Cheppoddu, I noticed Gargeyi had an innocent persona on screen and this is just what my film demanded. She was very excited about the idea and said yes to it immediately. She must have realised it’s a privilege to be part of a 100-minute film centring on her character and responded to the challenge well,” he states.
“I won’t say we worked very hard on the film, we take money for what we do and engage audiences. It’s the audiences who need to evaluate our work. As a storyteller, it’s important you make the viewer forget all his worries and give them the drama they expect. The screenplay is the lifeline of the film. With my taste for music, I also made space for two songs in Hello Meera to help audiences understand the character's trauma better,” he signs off.