August 04, 2012 Y. Sunitha Chowdhary
Having born and brought up in Godavari, it was but natural for debut director Kumar Nagendra to weave a story around the river that was inspired by the Titanic. The sound effects, the gushing of the water into the steamer, the wind, fading light and all the disastrous effects cast an indelible impression on his mind and gave him a thrill. A self-professed fan of Ilayaraja he also got the maestro to give fabulous music for the film Gundello Godari.
A flood creates fear amongst people, causes havoc and destroys but for Aadhi Pinisetty and Lakshmi Prasanna who play lead pair as newly-weds it hardly matters as there is unrest and they are already battling with a sea of emotions. The disaster does something good and that forms the rest of the story.
Why did he chose a difficult subject for a debut and why did he choose Aadhi and Lakshmi? "I don't have to work all these years to just make an ordinary love story or an action film, I wanted to come in with a bang and have a brand for myself. I didn't find Telugu actors willing to be a fisherman and I can't have someone like Samantha being swept away by the force of water and having to take rest for the next few films. The heroine needs stamina, time and effort. From six in the evening to six the next morning the artistes had to stay in salt water."
Apart from showing the fury of Godavari, Kumar showed its beauty as well, the calm before the storm too. The film has been set in the 1986 backdrop and the director did an intensive research by spending hours in the library looking for info on 1986 flood. He adds, "The disaster was the biggest, first time in 500 years. It was Sravana Sukravaram and it began towards dusk. It was also the day NTR unveiled Telugu Talli statue.
The river that begins at Papikondalu submerges all the people who lived 30 kms from there. I captured their innocence. A day before we let the water in the set, I was tense. The set was created in 17 acres of land and we put up 120 huts. We built a reservoir and closed it with three locks, we then allowed the artistes into the set and water was let out from 15 pipes with pressure. All this was shot with thirty cameras. It was the first time for all of us, anything could have happened.
Luckily there were very few errors, five minutes after the shoot a gate of a reservoir broke. Investing two crores on the film that too by a debutant is not something ordinary. CG was done after a lot of visualising and planning." Kumar Nagendra who worked with Krishna Vamsi reveals that after a flood, the land becomes fertile and the crop yield for a farmer is outstanding.
So are they planning an audio launch in the water? The director sighs, "We are bored with the water now after 80 days of shoot there. We shot around Palakollu, Papikondalu to Antarvedi. We showed the temple on Papikondalu drowning; Actually the temple plays a key role in the film. Do you know in 1986, this temple on the island was submerged and the water touched the Gopuram. We would begin our journey at 3 a.m. from Rajamundry every day and reach at 5 for the shoot."