Like many poets and writers turning filmmakers, there is now an author of a best seller making his directorial debut. Author K.V. Aditya, whose book Daitya Diaries was one of the best sellers on Amazon in 2018, is set to make his director debut with the film, Unheard. Tipped to be a historical period drama, the film is produced by Radhika Lavu.
We start our interaction with Aditya asking him why he chose to take up filmmaking, especially given the low success rate. “I am passionate about storytelling around some subjects, e.g., history, the freedom movement, etc. I’ve written several pieces on the above subjects and I feel my ideas can be transformed only if I direct them,” explains Aditya, who had earlier directed documentaries showcasing the work of USAID, Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.
“Moreover, filmmaking feels like a natural progression.” However, Aditya had made his debut into the industry in 2019, as a screenwriter for the film Gods of Dharmapuri. But even before that, he had a lucrative consulting career in the field of communications. Leaving behind that world for a life in showbiz must surely have been a gamble.
“It was indeed!” responds Aditya immediately. “I was apprehensive but I had to make that tough move, one of the toughest of my life yet. But it was my passion for storytelling, which made me take the gamble. Moreover, storytelling is changing, and the entry barriers are going down.”
The Hyderabad factor
Unheard is Aditya’s understanding and perception of history, which is based on his 13 years of research on the freedom movement. The research, he tells us, enabled him to add a Hyderabadi perspective to the story, which is set in 1905–1950.
“Since the common man is always an unheard person, the film is narrated from his perspective and entails multiple philosophies of the freedom struggle,” Aditya adds.
“From the stories I heard, I realised Hyderabad’s history is one of the most important aspects of the freedom movement, and in my film I’ve tried to reflect the people’s understanding of freedom across different walks of life then. In essence, this film captures the lives of people across every strata of society during the freedom struggle.”
There is another reason for the Hyderabad perspective to show in Aditya’s story — the storyteller’s romance with the city. “I was born and raised in Hyderabad, and yet hardly ever heard these stories,” he says, reminding us that although India got independence in 1947, Hyderabad State was only merged in 1950 — three years after the nation was declared independent.
“My film also depicts the perspective of the lives of people during that time, while showcasing the two battles they had to fight — one with the British and the other with the Nizams.”
Brickbats and pats
The film, which stars Priyadarshi, Chandini Chowdary, Srinivas Avasarala Ajay, Baladitya and Anand Chakrapani, was shot between September and November from start to finish last year and has currently completed its post-production work.
The experience of making documentaries came in handy for Aditya while he made this feature film. “But I don’t know the rules of filmmaking, so I just did what I wanted to including several workshops with the cast, etc. to get our pre-production right,” he adds. The workshop also helped the actor get the diction right for the languages — English, Urdu and Telugu — used by the actors in the film.
As with anyone trying something new, Aditya too encountered criticism through his filmmaking experience, all of which even dented his confidence. “Several technicians rejected the story and advised me against making it. But it was producer Radhika who believed in my vision. The actors who came on board also believed in the script, and I could pull this off,” signs off the filmmaker saying that.
Historical trivia showcased in the film
The 1918 influenza pandemic, the Spanish Flu, which killed around 25 million, is one of the important episodes in the film. Mahatma Gandhi also suffered from the Spanish Flu and was in isolation. The film chronicles how these deaths fuelled the freedom moment. It was during this time the movement gained momentum and began to spread. The freedom fighters used to distribute medicines to the people across the rural areas, thereby bringing together the people of India and giving wings to the idea of having freedom.