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Ante Sundaraniki is wholesome, and layered: Vivek Athreya

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'Ante Sundaraniki' is hitting the cinemas on June 10. In this interview, director Vivek Athreya talks about Nani's character, why Nazriya Fahadh was roped in for the heroine's role, working with a talented set of artists, his upcoming movie and more.

'Ante Sundaraniki' is a pack of emotions. Fun is one of the major ingredients. The film is as variegated as the trailer. The plot has no resemblance to 'Sitakoka Chiluka'.

When I conceived the idea five years ago, I pitched the same to actor Sree Vishnu just like that. After 'Brochevarevarura', I went to Nani to narrate the entire script. He was excited listening to the subject.

Nani has previously not done a character of this sort. 'Bhale Bhale Mogadivoy' was a full-fledged comedy entertainer. In 'Ante', the narration is layered. He comes across as a funny guy but there is pain and baggage behind his words. The script was not written for Nani or anybody in particular. But after the scripting was done, I could think of only him for the lead role.

Conservatism is a subjective thing. The film has mild social commentary while at the same time not sounding preachy. 'Ante' doesn't demean or offend any community. The conversations are neat. If there was any objectionable element, the CBFC would have put forth objections. They didn't make any objections and they gave a clean 'U'.

Leela Thomas needed to be played by a strong performer. That's why I chose Nazriya, who is a very good actor. She was a unanimous choice. At first, we thought someone like her should be picked. Eventually, we felt she along should do the role. I narrated the script to her in Tamil.

The father-son track in the film is wholesome and realistic. The track between Nani and his father (VK Naresh) is a bundle of emotions. The father who chides is also the one who cares for his son the most. On set, Nani never behaved like a star. He was Sundaram always. The same is true about Nazriya. I had the freedom I needed.

The inter-caste/inter-religious backdrop is not what the film is entirely about. There is more to the story than that. Inter-faith relationships are fraught with risks to this day for the couple. Honour killings are an extreme happening. Our film deals with a serious subject with a touch of humour. I believe in the power of comedy to convey a hard-hitting thing. Humour can take away monotony.

The run-time is 176 minutes because the story is about both Sundaram and Leela. The run-time had to be long if we have to tell their stories elaborately. The length is not a minus at all.

'Raja Raja Chora' director Hasith Goli has worked with me on all my films so far. He wrote a song in 'Ante Sundaraniki'.

This is the kind of film that should ideally be watched with hundreds others in a theatre. It doesn't suit an OTT viewing. Mythri Movie Makers has not mooted an early OTT release. They are a passionate production house.

Action drama is one of my most favourite genres. I will do an action drama in the future. As for my next film, nothing has been finalized. I have a few ideas in mind.

The likes of K Viswanath garu wrote their own stories. If a director is intent on doing only direction (like K Raghavendra Rao and Kodandarami Reddy), it means they are comfortable working on others' stories. Such directors have the ability to own others' stories. It's not an easy thing at all. So, it depends on your abilities. 

Updated on June 4, 2022
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