At 27, Karthik Ghattamaneni is one of youngest filmmakers of Tollywood and if you are wondering if his family has any links in the industry, the answer is no. Born to an IPS officer, the Hyderabadi lad who wielded the lens for ‘Prema Ishq Kadhal’ and ‘Karthikeya’ is now debuting as a director with Nikhil-starrer ‘Surya vs Surya’.

 
 
By his own admission, movies happened by accident. “I was always interested in films but wasn’t sure if I will get into the industry. During my engineering I did short films and was so fascinated by the craft of editing that I started editing marriage videos too.
 
Over a period of time I realised that editing is nothing but conveying a story and decided to turn to directing,” recalls Karthik, a computer science student from Hyderabad’s Institute of Aeronautical Engineering. 
 
Though he got a job after engineering, he hid the news from his parents so that he can get an admission in FTII (Film and Television Institute of India), Pune. “I couldn’t make it to the institute,” he smiles. However, it is at the institute he was advised by a ‘curious man’ to get into cinematography.
 
 “Though I was not 100 per cent sure whether I should get into cinematography or not, I decided to give it a try. I enrolled myself at Rajeev Menon’s Mindscreen in Chennai for a yearlong cinematography course,” he s h a r e s , adding, “I started seeing ‘light’ at the institute. Though camera work doesn’t come naturally to me, I got addicted to it.” 
 
After completing the cinematography course, he got back to his home turf and decided to test his luck as a director. To begin with, many a producer couldn’t understand his thoughts until actor Harshvardhan Rane came to his rescue. “He could somehow follow what I was trying to tell him. We made a short film ‘Infinity’. It was shot under Rs 10,000. Fortunately for me Rane took it to festivals across Mumbai and the likes of Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Farhan Akhtar appreciated it; in fact Farhan even tweeted about it.” 
 
The appreciation to the film helped him meet Pavan Sadineni with whom he collaborated for ‘Prema Ishq Kadhal’. And while writing ‘Surya vs Surya’ he got in touch with Chandoo Mondeti, director of ‘Karthikeya’, who fine tuned his script. “After the success of ‘Swamy Ra Ra’, Chandoo was in line to direct Nikhil. He asked me whether I would be his cinematographer. 
 
The most important element of ‘Karthikeya’ was light. I doubted whether I had it in me to do justice to the film but Chandoo believed in me. Besides cinematography, I also worked as an assistant director on the sets of the film. I exchanged lots of ideas with him.” It was during the shooting of the film in Kumbakonam that he got to narrate ‘Surya vs Surya’ to Nikhil. “It was a day off for the whole team and I was swimming along with Nikhil. 
 
He suddenly asked me what’s next. I replied that I have a story and that nobody is interested in it. I narrated it to him thinking he wouldn’t be doing it but surprisingly he liked it. It was he who arranged the producer.” ‘Surya vs Surya’ traces the life of a student who is affected by porphyria, a disorder which prevents him facing the sun.
 
 “Once I had been to a night college in Hyderabad where I got to see a notice board which read, ‘Daytime earners night time learners.’ When I went into the classroom I was amazed to see it filled with a senior citizen, a housewife and a salesman. Every section of the society was there barring the rich. 
 
What happens if a rich guy studies in a night college? Why would he study there if he’s rich in the first place? Such questions popped up in mind. It was then that I got to know about porphyria. Upon extensive research I designed a character affected with it.” Karthik has also shot the film besides directing it. It was, in one angle, difficult, he admits. 
 
“Since I was working on a tight budget, I couldn’t get a cinematographer of my choice, thus I had to double up as a cinematographer too. As a lensman you do a creative job of capturing images but coming to direction, you have to manage everything including egos of the artistes. You have to behave like the CEO of a company,” he smiles.