The filmmaker’s last release was the Bellamkonda Sreenivas, Kajal Aggarwal starrer Sita in 2019
Last Updated: 10.32 AM, Jan 15, 2023
Filmmaker Teja, who has a history of launching several debutants in Telugu cinema, is introducing over 30 actors with his next release, Ahimsa. The film is an action romance, headlined by Rana Daggubati’s brother (and producer Suresh Babu’s son) Abhiram Daggubati and Geethika. Produced by Gemini Kiran of Anandi Arts, the entertainer marks Teja’s reunion with composer RP Patnaik, who’ve churned out many blockbuster albums together like Nuvvu Nenu, Jayam, Chitram. As Ahimsa gears up for a release later this January, he shares the core idea behind the story, music, its milieu and the casting decisions.
The idea behind Ahimsa:
I have tried to debate on the rightness of ahimsa as an ideology. Many believe ahimsa was a key tool to India’s freedom struggle but I’ve gone many years behind to understand if it is indeed the right tool to survive in this world.
On casting Abhiram in the film:
I wrote the story first and chose the actor later. The actor had to belong to a village, look massy in the action sequences but someone who’s innocent otherwise. I felt Abhiram was an apt choice. I saw him on the sets of Nene Raju Nene Manthri where he used to tag along with Rana everyday. I asked him to be on set at least 30 minutes before my arrival and when I noticed he had that discipline, I finalised him for Ahimsa. Discipline is something that an actor requires the most.
Suresh Babu’s family doesn’t really thrive on stardom and are very grounded people. Despite belonging to an illustrious family, Abhiram did his first film for Anandi Arts and even Rana’s debut was with AVM Productions. They don’t try too hard to push their family through their productions.
Extracting work out of debutants:
Apart from Abhiram, this is also Geethika’s first film. I honestly irritated both the actors a lot during the shoot, I suspect they would’ve cried a lot. It doesn’t matter if Abhiram belongs to a film clan. On set, I only want him to do justice to my character. Gemini Kiran, who also made Nuvvu Nenu with me, liked the story first and agreed to do the project once he met Abhiram.
Reuniting with composer RP Patnaik:
RP Patnaik is a lovely human being and his tunes always carry a strong emotion. There are no dream sequences in my films and I always use a song to further the story and I couldn’t have asked for someone better than RP for Ahimsa.
On the songs, lyrics:
I always inform the lyric writer about what I wish to convey through the song and try to drive the narrative forward using it. The locations in Neethone Neethone are a major highlight, where Geethika is in a trolley and Abhiram drives her forward. It’s about how the boy and the girl are there for each other during need. Chandrabose came up with excellent lyrics with both Ammesaney and Neethone.
There are two more songs in the film, one of them will be out before the release. The other one, you need to catch it directly on the big screen. Undile, another song, is about how the protagonists dream of a hopeful future; it’s coincidental that it’s similar to another popular song, Undile Manchi Kaalam (a song from a Ramanaidu production). I made Abhiram mug up the lyrics of all the songs in the film and asked him to sing them before we filmed them. Even Suresh Babu’s family was surprised by Abhiram’s efforts.
Exploring the country’s natural diversity through the shoot locations
We have tried to showcase India’s diversity through the locations in Madhya Pradesh. (the heroine too hails from the same state) With Brihaspati Kund, where the water is under 300 feet, we had to trek for two hours to reach the location, carrying our bags. We were drenched in sweat day and night. Another location Bhimkund, where the water is very pure has an interesting backstory. When Draupadi wanted some water while they were atop a rock, Bhima is believed to have ripped the rock apart and found water underneath it.
Why he doesn’t believe in the idea of festivals?
I was born and brought up in Madras. So, I remember Sankranthi as Pongal. I am someone who doesn’t celebrate festivals. For me, the success of a film and a day at shoot is like a festival. I enjoy working continuously. I work on Sundays and I’m in my office even on the festival day.
What to expect from Ahimsa?
The film will be an out-and-out entertainer. Entertainment is always confused with comedy here. Even horror, honestly, is entertainment. The film has good suspense, thrills and fights. The story is about people with conflicting ideologies. While the guy believes in non-violence and follows the path of Gandhi and Buddha, the girl believes in Krishna’s philosophy. Ahimsa is a story of how their stances change owing to an incident. My idea is to say that Krishna’s philosophy works best for India. We plan to release the film in January. It’s a proper Telugu film that’s rooted in its culture.