Sampath Nandi is not new to setbacks. After completing 95 per cent of his Telugu-Kannada bilingual with Upendra in 2007-08, the project, much to his shock, was called off. For the next two years, the writer-turned-director twiddled thumbs at his home. And when he exited Pawan Kalyan-starrer ‘Gabbar Singh 2’ (now Sardaar Gabbar Singh) last year after investing more than two years on it, he took it in his stride.
It was a call from Ravi Teja that got him going after coming out of the Pawan Kalyan compound. “I just had a character idea for him and he took a liking to it immensely,” he states. “The film (Bengal Tiger) isn’t set in Kolkata nor is it a cop story. The Bengal Tiger is an animal with some special characteristics, which differentiates it from other tigers. Ravi Teja’s character too has unique traits in the film and hence the title.”
Giving a peek into his lead character Aakash Narayan, he reveals, “Though he has a Masters in Computers, he is reckless and wanders on the streets of Atreyapuram. His life takes a turn after an insult and that is how the narrative unfolds. The novelty factors would be Ravi Teja’s characterisation and a flashback episode.”
Admittedly, the director had a gala time collaborating with ‘live wire’ Ravi Teja. “When we write a sequence, we imagine our actors to emote in a particular way but with him, he takes it to a hitherto new level,” he exults. Besides Brahmanandam, Posani Krishna Murali and Prithvi, the film, shot predominantly in Rajahmundry, Pollachi and Hyderabad over 100 days, also boasts of Boman Irani in a key supporting role.
Sampath reveals that when he first penned the character, the only face that flashed in front of him was that of the Bollywood actor. “Call it the ‘3 Idiots’ or the ‘Attarintiki Daaredhi’ hangover,” he avers cheekily. “He is playing a CM in the film and if it were another artiste I don’t think he would have carried it the way Boman did. I was keen on someone who brings in a lot of dignity to the part and Boman was the only option.”
Sampath had a brush with film production last year with ‘Gaalipatam’. While it didn’t set the cash registers ringing, he is happy that the critics and people from the industry lauded its screenplay, dialogues and the theme. “My colleagues have shared a couple of interesting subject lines to me recently and you can expect another production from my end very soon,” he confides.
While he has rustled up a couple of scripts – one presumably for Ram Charan– Sampath is taking it slow as far as his next is concerned. “I can promise you it will star a big hero,” he insists, playing cards close to his chest. Known for his close proximity with Chiranjeevi, one wonders if he has a tailor-made script for the matinee idol, who seems to be on a desperate hunt for the right one. “If he calls me I’ll consider it as a golden opportunity and will rush to him.”
On a different note, Sampath insists he is ‘mad’ about Bollywood director Imtiaz Ali with whom he had the luxury of having a conversation or two. “His films are nothing compared to what he thinks. His approach towards life is completely different and he is very knowledgeable,” concludes Sampath, who, understandably, loved the ‘Love Aaj Kal’ helmer’s recent effort ‘Tamasha’.
By Nagaraj Goud