Debutant Kumar Nagendra is set to make a mark with his film inspired by the 1986 floods

Born and brought up in Godavari, it was but natural for debut director Kumar Nagendra to weave a story inspired by the Titanic around the river. The sound effects, the gushing of the water into the steamer, the wind, the fading light and all the other disastrous effects cast an indelible impression on his mind and gave him a thrill. A self-professed fan of Ilayaraja heeven got the maestro to compose fabulous music for Gundello Godaari, his forthcoming film.

A flood creates fear amongst most people, causes havoc and stands for destruction but for Aadi Pinisetty and Lakshmi Prasanna, who play lead pair as newly weds, it hardly matters as they are already battling with a sea of emotions. How the disaster impacts their lives forms the story.

Why did he choose a difficult subject for a debut and why did he choose Aadi and Lakshmi? “I didn’t have to work all these years to just make an ordinary love story or an action film; I wanted to come in with a bang and have a brand for myself. I didn’t find Telugu actors willing to be a fisherman and I can’t have someone like Samantha swept away by the force of water and having to take rest for the next few days. The heroine needs stamina, time and effort. From 6p.m. to 6a.m. the artistes had to stay in salt water.”

Apart from showing the fury of Godavari, Kumar showed its beauty as well — the calm before the storm. The film is set in 1986 and the director did intensive research on the 1986 floods. He adds, “The disaster was the biggest one in 500 years. It happened on Sravana Sukravaram (a Friday in the month of Shravan) and it began towards dusk. It was also the day NTR unveiled the Telugu Talli statue. The river which begins at Papikondalu submerged people who lived within a radius of 30 kilometres. I captured their innocence. A day before we let the water in the set, I was tense. The set was created in 17 acres of land. We put up 120 huts. We built a reservoir and closed it with three locks, we then allowed the artistes into the set and water was let out from 15 pipes with pressure. All this was shot with 30 cameras. It was the first time for all of us; anything could have happened. Luckily there were very few errors; five minutes after the shoot a gate of a reservoir broke. It is not ordinary for a debutant to invest two crores on one film. Cinematography was done after a lot of visualising and planning.”

Kumar Nagendra who worked with Krishna Vamsi reveals that after a flood, the land becomes fertile and the crop yield for a farmer is outstanding.

So are they planning an audio launch in the water? The director sighs, “We are bored with the water after 80 days of shooting in it. We shot around Pallakollu, Papikondalu and Antarvedi. We showed the temple in Papikondalu drowning. The temple plays a key role in the film. Do you know that in 1986, this temple on the island was submerged and the water touched the Gopuram? We would begin our journey at 3a.m. from Rajahmundry and reach the location at 5a.m. each day for the shooting.”