KRR: Tirumala will be seen in new perspective after ONV

Tuesday, February 7, 2017 - 09:00

As 'Om Namo Venkatesaya' hits the screens on Feb 10th, K Raghavendra Rao (KRR) in this interview talks about why he thinks youngsters will love it, why the title is not 'Hathi Ram Baba', what he wants to achieve through his direction lessons, and more.

Not much is known about the Hathi Ram Baba legend. Is it reality or fiction that you have made?

There is a trace of imagination for sure. In the climax of 'Annamayya', the Lord tells Annamayya that he should live on so that he can continue to write 'kirtanas'. But that is sheer fiction. Yet, people say that it is one of the best climaxes. When you are giving medicine to a child, you add sugar to make it palatable. Similarly, when you are making a film with the intention of spreading good, you add sugar. 

The conversations between Nagarjuna and Saurabh Jain (Lord Venkateshwara) are very entertaining. What can be the backdrop of their conversations? It can't be Film Nagar club. (Laughs). I cogitated for over 7 months just to finalize on the backdrop.

Why is it that you have for long been into spiritual films?

What makes India great is our culture, our rich literary treasure, our epics. Everyone can and should do something to spread it among the current generation. Young filmmakers seem to think that making devotional films is not their cup of tea. But I strongly feel that they too can do very good films with the technology that is there.

At a time when youngsters are deciding the fate of a film, isn't making 'ONV' a risky thing?

I disagree. A lot of pilgrims seen at Tirumala are youngsters. If they don't connect with spiritually with the Lord, why would they go there in large numbers? I think 'Om Namo Venkatesaya' will have a very good following among youngsters. Most of us have been to Tirumala at least once in our life time. After watching 'ONV', they will see Tirumala from a new perspective. They will want to go to Tirumala with that perspective in mind.

I have been to several temples and wherever I go, the authorities ask me to do a film on the history of that temple. How can I tell them that it doesn't make for a story? I tell them, 'I will make it if God wills'.

If not Nagarjuna?

But for Nagarjuna, I wouldn't have made 'ONV'. Not that no other actor can essay the role of Hathi Ram Baba, but the audience strongly feel that only Nagarjuna should do such roles. 

Why Om Namo Venkatesaya as title, why Hathi Ram Baba?

In the case of 'Annamayya', the devotee chose his God and wrote those many thousands of kirtanas. In the case of this film, it's the God Himself who chose his devotee. Thus, it's from his perspective that we have kept the title. Also, the mantra Om Namo Venkatesaya has no match in its power. 

So many people can say so many good things, but only a few are chosen to convey the message. Why should an Amitabh Bachchan raise awareness about the need for polio vaccine? It's because he is special that he is chosen as brand ambassador and paid crores. In the same way, God chose Hathi Ram Baba to convey His message. The Baba is like his brand ambassador. There are certain do's and dont's when we are at a sacred place like Tirumala. People will learn about them through this film. 

When Anushka was selected, many thought that there would be romance between Nagarjuna and her. But there is nothing of that sort in the movie. 

What is the idea behind teaching directorial lessons?

Through the programme, I want to teach a way of making films for the aspiring directors. It's not the ONLY way, but just one way to learn the things. I am not against film institutes. Assistant directors are among the lowest paid in the industry. I wanted to teach them by drawing from my experience. There is theory, then there is practice. You can't blindly apply the same lessons regardless of the hero. When it's Chiranjeevi, it's one thing. When it's Prabhas whom you are directing, it's another lesson that you have to apply.