With Bheemla Nayak receiving thunderous applause from all quarters, director Saagar K Chandra is the man of the moment. Released on February 25, Bheemla Nayak was declared a blockbuster right after the first show. Starring Pawan Kalyan, Rana Daggubati, Nithya Menon, Samuthrakani, Samyuktha Menon, Murali Sharma, Rao Ramesh, and others, the film is all set to break many records. Here are excerpts from Saagar K Chandra's interaction with the media.
On getting onboard Bheemla Nayak
During the lockdown, producer S Naga Vamsi called and told me about the idea of remaking Ayyappanum Koshiyum. Then we discussed how it may shape out in Telugu. After which he asked if I would be interested to helm the project. I said yes and we spoke at large on different ways to commercialise it and make a native of Telugu cinema. From then the journey was seamless.
On hearing about Pawan Kalyan being the protagonist
That was a surrealistic moment for me. You can't really plan your way to work with Pawan Kalyan. It has to happen. I am very happy that it happened to me after two movies.
On changes made to the remake and what was challenging in this process?
When Trivikram and I were discussing adapting the film to Telugu, the first roadblock was how to make Biju Menon's character larger than life and how to get the whole movie around him. It was portrayed by Pawan Kalyan. In Ayyappanum Koshiyum, Koshi's character was bigger. So in Telugu, a paradigm shift of kind happened. The next change was to bring an almost 3-hour film long film to less than 2 hours 30 minutes. As the original was a procedural film and the second half had most of the emotional outburst with 30 minutes around a tit for tat kind of action. We can’t retain people's attention span for half an hour without the change in the arc. To adapt it to the next level, we made many changes.
On working with Trivikram
Trivikram is a towering personality and a flawless technician. He lives in a war room before conceptualising a scene. I always looked up to him as a mentor. He is open to discussions and I learned a lot from him. Without our collective effort, Bheemla Nayak wouldn't have become a blockbuster hit.
On his journey from Ayyare to Bheemla Nayak?
I was a rookie when I made Ayyare. I was clueless about the industry and its way of working. After Appatlo Okadundevadu, the industry opened to me. Now Bheemla Nayak got massive applause.
What were the new things that made way while making the film?
We didn’t have a textbook kind of filmmaking and made it more natural. We didn't want to dip the emotion in crucial scenes with multiple cuts so the shots were conceived in such a way. It was more of fluid action. Somethings like giving a lift on the bike won't work in the remake so we chopped it. Also, Biju Menon walking out of a bus was an anticipated scene but we tweaked the scene and made it more impactful. Whoever takes the side of good is the hero, so we ensured it comes out well in Bheemla Nayak's character. This was challenging as the original was more tilted towards Koshi. I couldn't get a chance to meet Sachy, the writer of Ayyappanum Koshiyum. Thanks to him for giving such a memorable film.
How are you reacting to fan calls?
It’s crazy. So many messages. Don’t know how my number travelled to so many people.
What’s Chinna Babu's contribution to your success?
He is the best support system. That’s the great trait of a producer. I have a personal bond with him.
How industry reacted to your success?
I got calls from Surender Reddy, Krish, Sukumar, and many other people. Everyone showered their praises on me. I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart.
How did Pawan Kalyan react before and after the film’s shoot?
He told me to shoot the film with a lot of responsibility and he is very happy after watching the end product.
Which is easy – making an original film or adapting a successful one?
This is a tricky question. Here we dealt with the film as a fresh one and made it conducive to the Telugu audience. So it was a different experience.
On releasing Bheemla Nayak in Hindi?