'Jayamma Panchayathi' is heading to theatres on May 6. In this interview, the film's debutant director Vijay Kumar K talks about the film's backdrop, how he made it to the feature film segment, working with the lead actress Suma Kanakala, his hopes for the Summer release, and more.
I hail from a village near Srikakulam. I did my post-graduation and started doing a job. Simultaneously, I started doing short films. For years, I have wanted to work with star heroes. It took me time to realize that it's not easy to bag a film with a star hero. That's when I collaborated with some friends to make a film on a budget of Rs 60 to 70 lakh. I never imagined that 'Jayamma Panchayathi' would come to be seen as a potential script, so much so, even the top TV anchor Suma joined it. A music director like MM Keeravani has composed the tunes. We workshopped actors for a month before taking the film to the floors.
In the past few weeks, the likes of Pawan Kalyan, Rajamouli, Trivikram, Ram Charan, Nani and Varun Tej have supported our movie. I am so grateful.
Casting needs to be head-turning. Otherwise, your film will go unnoticed. There are actors like Ramya Krishna who can play Jayamma. But we have seen them already in different roles. Someone suggested Suma's name and I approached her. She liked the storyline. Even after she showed interest, I had my doubts. We did a test shoot and even that didn't instill confidence in me.
Suma is highly talented. She observes even nuances in the performances of actors in web shows like 'Breaking Bad'. That's when I grew confident. She watched my short films after reading the script. She and Keeravani became confident in my calibre.
'Jayamma Panchayathi' is inspired by real individuals. I dramatized the people I have met throughout my life. This is a fictional story although some of the scenes are inspired by true events.
The title has stemmed from the story. 'Panchayathi' denotes conflict. The film is about Jayamma's contestation. We all know the legend of Sati Savitri and Lord Yama. Jayamma comes from a family that was once affluent. She wades into serious trouble in the village. The controversy snowballs into a major controversy occupying the mind space of the villagers. Jayamma is naive. At the same time, she has a strong point.
Had I not found the artists I found for this film, 'Jayamma Panchayathi' would have been unimaginable. It scares me to think what would have happened had I not discovered those artists. Suma is a very quick learner. Despite being a Malayali, she became a top anchor here. Had it not been for her, shooting this film on sync sound wouldn't have been possible. She and other artists speak in the Srikakulam dialect.
There are four songs in the movie and each of them takes the story forward. None of them is hindering. I am sure the songs add muscle to the narration.
I did short films for 6 years. Some of them won awards. 'Eyes Of Hunger' is one of them. I learned by making mistakes. They were good lessons. An assistant director earns experience on the technical front. But only if you have made a short film will you be able to understand the importance of emotional quotient. Emotional content is almost common between short films and feature films. The conflict plot point decides the genre of a movie.