In this second part of the conversation with Vijaya Prasad, OTTplay discusses the filmmaker's recent ill-fated projects including Thothapuri Part 2
Despite his best efforts, filmmaker Vijaya Prasad has had only four releases since his debut way back in 2012. If his first film Sidlingu helped him emerge as the distinct voice to watch out for, his second film Neer Dose proved that his unorthodox storytelling could also yield good results at the box office.
But right after this came the long lull wherein the director did not have a theatrical release for as many as six years, until Petromax released in July 2022. That film, which stars Sathish Ninasam, Hariprriya, Nagabhushana and others, did not work at the box office nor did Vijaya Prasad's old template work, meaning that he was now required to do something new. And right around the corner of this juncture was the release of Thothapuri Part 1 and with that film, too, failing to impress audiences or critics, its eventual performance only caused more damage to his career.
"The audience's verdict cannot be questioned"
Part 2 of Thothapuri could not be released in theatres by the producers as per the original plan, which was to space it a couple of months after the first instalment. Following a few more delays and other speculations that it would be a direct OTT release, Thothapuri 2 was scheduled to finally release theatrically on August 10. But owing to the demand for Rajinikanth's Jailer, which released on the same day, Vijaya Prasad & Co. had to return empty-handed. There's no update as of yet about the new release date of Thothapuri 2.
When asked about this setback, Vijaya Prasad replied that he has humbly moved on and that he has new goals in sight at the moment, suggesting that he did not want to comment on the release. But he did speak about Thothapuri Part 1, the reception and other aspects.
"I cannot question the audience's verdict but simply bow my head to it. Of course, I wished to discuss and convey something very significant and deep because of the film but I don't suppose it was communicated properly. Neither can I blame someone else for that because, at the end of the day, the mistake lies on our end. Also, you must remember that no one in this profession is bigger than cinema itself. It is through these films that we all get to survive, producers make money and in turn, promote new talent. If a film does not win, we can certainly not blame anyone," says Vijaya Prasad.
Were those deep and philosophical thoughts lost in translation to the screen? And was it a bad idea to make the film in two parts?
"I don't suppose I have any regrets in terms of how the film turned out, because it was pretty close to what I had conceived. And it was the producers' call to bring it out in two parts. So, I did add a few new elements to the story to expand it a little and render two parts, which were shot at a stretch," adds Vijaya Prasad.
"Incorrect Release Strategy"
Interestingly, the filmmaker also believes that the promotional or release strategy employed in the case of Thothapuri 1 was perhaps not the best one. "The first song we released became a big hit and we should have released the film soon after that, cashing in on the hype. That was the first delay. After that, the trailer made some noise but we could not again release the film because of many factors," shares Vijaya Prasad, who assures quite passionately that despite the outcome, he still holds the whole team of Thothapuri in high regard, including the producers and lead actor Jaggesh.
Following all the delays, Thothapuri Part 1 clashed with Ponniyin Selvan I and Kantara at the box office and fared rather poorly in that competition.
Thothapuri 2 adds to its original cast with Daali Dhananjaya, who plays a key role in the film. However, none of the actors have spoken about the issue surrounding the film's release. When probed further, Vijaya Prasad said that he hopes to see the film releasing by the end of August or September 2023.
Parimala Lodge is definitely on the cards
Regardless, it seems almost certain that Vijaya Prasad has moved on from the Thothapuri experience and is now only concerned about what lies ahead. "I am making a film about senior citizens but landing a producer has been tough. It will be unlike my old stuff, as in there won't be any double-meaning jokes, and that is one reason why not many producers are interested. That said, I am already in discussions with a few and we could finalize a few things very soon," he adds.
He has also not given up on Parimala Lodge, another slightly ill-fated project that is yet to take off due to myriad reasons. "People assume that a film titled 'Parimala Lodge' could only be vulgar or distasteful. But that title is only the lure because I want to show the people who live behind that facade. A lodge is where life is - you will find love, deception, suicides, robbery, etc. and so much more in that place but amid all that mess, you will also find beauty, purity, gentleness and even poetry. That is the movie I set out to make," says Vijaya Prasad.