Director Surender Reddy, whose upcoming film Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy is already making huge waves in the industry, is a personality to reckon with. He already has to his credit that he has worked with the top actors in Tollywood.
Then, his 2009-film titled Kick, which was remade in Hindi starring Salman Khan, proved to be a hit even in the northern belt too. We speak with the director about his experience of the latest period drama he’s directing and his aspirations for the future. Excerpts from the interview:
Please tell us of your experiences of debuting in Hindi with Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy.
We are definitely proud and emotional that our films from the south are being remade into Hindi. Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, which will also release in Hindi and five other South languages, is a historical film set in 1800.
Would you elaborate on the storyline of Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy?
Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy is a period film based in an era between 1800 and 1846. It is a biopic on a gentleman called Narasimha Reddy who is believed to have started the first rebellion against the British, even before the Jhansi rebellion. Back then, he neither had an army nor knew how to form an army. He is believed to have fought all alone and rebelled his way to freedom by inspiring the public. Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy’s story is an important one in Andhra Pradesh and the story has been included in the text books in schools.
Director Puri Jagganadh wished but failed to direct Chiranjeevi for his comeback 150th film. How do you feel that you are directing the mega-star for his comeback film?
I would just like to say that I feel incredibly lucky. I’ve grown up watching Chiranjeevi sir’s films, and I never even dreamt that I would get to work with him someday. But it all worked out suddenly. And honestly, how lucky am I to be working with starts like Chiranjeevi, Sudeep, Vijay Sethupati, and Amitabh Bachchan all at once and in a `-270-crore film? It’s like my job here is done.
And how was it, working with legendary super-stars such as Chiranjeevi and Amitabh Bachchan?
There was a lot I learned from both the super-stars-Chiranjeevi sir at 65 years and Amitabh Bachchan sir at 75 years, working with me, a ‘next generation’. To see the dedication and passion they possess for their work even at this age, it’s incredible to watch that. They reached the sets on time even if a shot was scheduled for early morning, and they always respect everyone around. Whatever the director says, they do it with incredible amounts of sincerity. In fact, Amitabh Bachchan sir is so dedicated on sets that he listens only to the director and keeps checking if he got something right or wrong, and all this despite him being considered the biggest Indian superstar. I hope I am at least as dedicated when I am that age.
What is the kind of box-office pressure you are experiencing?
Now that the film is ready, there is a lot of box-office pressure on me as this is also my first Hindi project. The day it releases, I will be stress-free. That being said, on the one hand, I am anxious about how people will react to it. But on the other hand, I am sure the audiences will love it, not only because the content, which looks very fresh and real, has a Pan-India flavour, but also because the film has not been made superficially. Also, Sye Raa is a film based on the freedom fight. The film will be an emotional ride as all the cast has delivered a sublime performance.
What you do think of this ‘dream gift’ that actor Ram Charan, who’s the producer of the film, has given to his father Chiranjeevi?
Honestly, I believe the film’s hero is the producer Ram Charan who never let money be a constraint. In fact, he even told me not to compromise on the budget because this film is a dream gift from the son to his dad. He gave me a free hand and I am a little at ease in my heart because Ram Charan has loved the film.
So, would you do your next film with Salman Khan?
Right now, I’ve not thought about my next project. I am focusing on the release of my film Sye Raa Narshimha Reddy, which is set to release in five languages. You see, I’ve put in more than two-and-half years in this film, and I’ve not come out of it yet. But Salman has a huge fan following in Hyderabad too. And, yes, I would love to work with Salman Khan. I watch his film first day first show. And if Salman Khan bestows upon me a chance to direct him, I will surely want to work with him.