Ram Mohan asked me to direct ‘Soggade Chinni Nayana’
The director talks about finding no takers for his action script, why he let go of a chance to direct superstar Nagarjuna, ‘Majnu’ and future plans
You would have expected Virinchi Varma, after the success of his maiden directorial ‘Uyyala Jampala’, to make another romantic drama but the director wanted to delve into deeper waters and so, wrote an action-love story, investing seven months. Nonetheless, he couldn’t find many takers despite him being ready with a bound script.
“People were like, ‘We don’t need such scripts. Aren’t there directors who are making such scripts? Why don’t you come with another rom-com?’ So I had no option but to go back to the drawing board and pen ‘Majnu,’” he recalls gleefully in a conversation with Talkies.
He admits that the action-love story was narrated to Naga Chaitanya. “His reaction was like, ‘I was expecting you to narrate a love story.’ He liked it but may be since it was high on budget and that I had no prior experience in handling action subjects, he might have had his own doubts.”
In the meanwhile, Virinchi was also offered to direct Nagarjuna-starrer ‘Soggade Chinni Nayana’, which eventually turned out to be one of the biggest money-spinners of this year. The fantasy drama’s script was conceived by P Ram Mohan who produced ‘Uyyala Jampala’. “I was asked to helm it but I told Ram Mohan that I’m comfortable directing my own stories. He understood it.”
Virinchi is presently looking forward to the release of ‘Majnu,’ starring Nani. He admits that he penned the story keeping Nani in mind. “It was born out of a brainwave. Later I fleshed it out. It is a pure love story told in an entertaining way. Since Nani was occupied with films like ‘Krishnagaadi Veeraprema Gaadha’ and ‘Gentleman’, I had to wait for six months, after finishing the script, to take it on to floors,” he whines, revealing that there was a reason for them to name the film as Majnu and that he hasn’t watched the late 80s Nagarjuna-starrer of the same name.
“If we had locked on some other title, people would have assumed it as another comic love story from Nani’s end but we wanted to tell that there’s some seriousness in the film as Nani plays a genuine lover and so titled it as ‘Majnu.’
The film introduces newcomers Annu Emmanuel and Priya Shri to Tollywood and Virinchi insists that it was his idea to go with fresh faces. “Producer Gemini Kiran wanted to go with established faces but I was adamant on new faces since the story demands it. It took a lot of time to get the casting done. For the village belle’s part (which Anu played), I was keen on a girl who looks gentle, vulnerable at the outset and I found Anu to be apt. We auditioned her through Skype since she was in the US at that point of time. As far as Priya Shri was concerned, we did multiple auditions before roping her in. She is a quick learner and was able to memorise a two-page dialogue in 30 minutes, a factor which sealed the deal for her.”
Shot in places like Hyderabad, Bhimavaram, Araku, Medak and Goa, ‘Majnu’ was wrapped up in 53 days and Virinchi points out that since he edited everything at the script level itself, he has managed to complete the film on time. “The editor had hardly anything to scissor,” he smiles, admitting that the film will be told in a non-linear fashion.
He is happy that Nani, despite his star status, went out of his way to support him. “It was a memorable experience directing him. Besides taking the story to next level with his acting chops, he supported and guided me throughout. Even when he was uncomfortable giving retakes, he did so, for some sequences. He is so into continuity of shots that he dubbed as the assistant director at times.”
The film also features top-drawer director SS Rajamouli in a cameo as a film director. Ask him how he managed to convince the ‘Baahubali’ helmer and he says, “Kiran and I shared the storyline casually with him and asked whether he would be interested to play himself. He was more than happy to oblige.”
Next up, the director has an idea, which he wants to narrate to a star in a month’s time. “Given the bad experience I had in the past, I’ve realised that it’s better to bounce the storyline you intend to make with a star and if he likes it, you can proceed accordingly. There’s no point in developing the whole story when you don’t have a star’s nod in the first place,” he says, admitting that he wants to establish himself before going on an experimental path with