January 29, 2012 Y. Sunitha Chowdhary
Tweet It was a pleasant scene to see a jam packed theatre screening a thirty minute film Edari Varsham by debutant director Kathi Mahesh Kumar. The alumni of Hyderabad Central University confidently proclaimed to an attentive audience, "Give me the amount you spend on a song for your movie and one screening preferably a morning show at Prasads and I will get my audience and recover my money."
The director who made three documentaries Our Water, Shubhodayam and God's Own People set off to make this film inspired from Devarakonda Balagangadhar Tilak's 'Vuri Chivara Illu'. Having made changes and owing to budget constraints he limited his script to thirty minutes. He got the finances through social networking as little as 400 Rs. to a few thousands and finally with the funding from 38 producers completed the film in three days with a budget of two and a half lakh.
Mahesh established a huge network of 900 members through a website Navatarangam and then moved onto FaceBook to pool help and the film became a reality through a collaborative effort. The banner has been labelled Telugu Independent Cinema.
"The so called commercial cinema is no longer commercially viable at all. For me I'd prefer making a film on my sensibilities and catering to that limited audience. It is very important for Telugu people to understand my films and also a non Telugu audience to know what a Telugu film looks like. We worked for mainstream cinema and realised script was no issue at all, we are too small to take on mainstream cinema guys and tell them what they are doing is wrong, we are actually telling them there are alternate possibilities, providing the space and negotiating the alternate existence is our aim," avers Mahesh.
The director was looking for a hero who was vulnerable and someone whom people shouldn't be hating for what he does on screen. He adds, "I interacted with Raghu Kunche on FaceBook and he liked the idea of being part of Telugu Independent Cinema, our ideology. The story actually revolves around the girl, we found a lot of very urbane looking girls who are meant for Sekhar Kammula kind of cinema but I wanted someone very native and wasn't aware that Swapna was also a television actor.
Edari Varsham is about a woman in distress and finds solace and love in a man who walks into her home one night and leaves her the next morning. It rains in a desert but disappears instantly, here the hero is likened to the rain and the woman is found weeping she wants to quench her thirst."
The director felt that retaining the title Vuri Chivara Illu would have given a wrong impression of a woman who is condemned to living alone. He signs off, "I'm trying to prove the existence of alternate cinema and next there are so many stories waiting to be made and that can happen through cooperative and collaborative effort. I spend twenty thousand rupees every year to watch films, why not make a film with that money instead by pooling money with like-minded people. We have sent the film to many film festivals and hoping for a positive reaction."