In 2008, director Sudha Kongara came across an article about young girls from a slum, who took up sports to be able to land government jobs. After months of research involving several boxers and coaches across the country, the idea behind Guru, (Irudhi Suttru and Saala Khadoos in Tamil and Hindi) was born. “My film is harsh and real. My film reflects the reality through and through — from the politics in the boxing federation to the plight of the women boxers. I got so much information in my research that I can make two sequels to this film!” shares Sudha, who is a Telugu girl from Chennai, and “grew up on a dose of Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi films”.
Interestingly, when she first wrote the script, it was Venkatesh she approached. But things didn’t work out. “Madhavan eventually went on to star in the Tamil and Hindi films. However, I strongly wanted to make the film in Telugu too. In fact, that was my only condition to my producer Sashikant (of Y Not Studios) back then. We got a brilliant offer for dubbing the film in Telugu even before the film’s release, but I was adamant and told him that if I get a chance to meet Venkatesh once, I’d be able to convince him,” recalls Sudha, who finally managed to get what she wanted. She adds, “In Tamil Nadu, the film was lapped up by the masses and I am sure it has got the same ability here as well. I wanted it to reach a wider audience, and that’s why I wanted Venkatesh.”
Why was she so keen on him from the beginning? “Madhavan had to make an effort to fit into his role in Saala Khadoos, but the role was tailor made for Venkatesh!” says Sudha, who’s quite chuffed with the positive response coming in from the various premiere shows. In fact, Sudha made a few changes to suit the Telugu audience. “The story is rooted into emotions which didn’t need a lot of changes. It was the regional flavour, which needed a bit of tweaking and that was done. And of course, Venkatesh’s interpretation of the character varied from Maddy’s, but I didn’t have to compromise on any key element. It is still the same story of an eccentric coach and his student, who is more eccentric than him. The thing is, I didn’t look at this film as a remake. It’s a whole new film for me,” she signs off.