'Gamanam' will be released in theatres on December 10. In this interview, director Sujana Rao talks about working with Shriya Saran, what the film is about, teaming up with various actors and technicians such as Maestro Ilaiyaraja, and more.
'Gamanam' is a story that I wrote over several years. I drew from my childhood experiences as well in penning the story. I have done documentaries on slums, etc. In 2018, I was pitching some other script for a producer. I suddenly realized that it's not the subject I should take up. I sat down and wrote a draft one night. That eventually became 'Gamanam'.
I wouldn't say that 'Gamanam' is an amalgamation of three stories. It's about the full circle of life. It has characters belonging to various ages.
I am a first-time director. It's the first time that I worked with a music director, it's the first time that I gave actors narrations, so on and so forth. When I had to work with Shriya Saran, Charu Haasan sir and others, it was a beautiful experience. The latter has got a beautiful scene in the movie. Despite his age, he was particular about giving the best shot.
Shriya Saran has been presented in a never-seen-before way. You are going to see a new Shriya. Everybody is going to fall in love with her. Writing is different from execution. More than the writer, it's the actor who lives the character.
Cinematographer Gnanasekhar VS sir has produced the movie. He gave me the confidence to approach Shriya, who became emotional after listening to the story.
The original plan was to produce it on a small budget. But the scale became big eventually.
It was my dream to meet Ilaiyaraja sir at least once. Before I began narrating the script, he made it clear that he won't do the movie if he doesn't like the story. It was like talking with God himself.
I am very thankful that dialogue-writer Sai Madhav Burra garu came on board. This is not a dialogue-heavy movie. But wherever there are dialogues, the writing is effective.
My family members have always been supportive of my dreams. There was a time when I was scared to tell them that I wanted to become a filmmaker. My dad is an ex-producer of movies. I used to be on sets of movies. I would see directors wielding the megaphone. I learned Fashion Designing in Delhi and also embarked on making documentaries. My father made it clear that he wouldn't be helping me in any way other than morally.
I am definitely blessed to have got to work with an ensemble cast and crew in 'Gamanam'. Nithya Menen has done a guest role. Siva Kandukuri is an aspiring cricketer. Priyanka Jawalkar is his love interest. While Priyanka is a Muslim character, the story has nothing to do with religion or caste. It's about financial status.
I am inspired by true incidents. I also grew up in a joint family. Each of us had a story of our own. That's why 'Gamanam' has got more than one story. It's not an anthology but a hyperlink story. When you want to tell a story, don't think about whether it is commercial or not. If a story is close to your heart, you just tell it.
I have written the script for my next movie already.