Varun Sandesh and Anita reprise the roles of Kamal Hassan and Sarita in the new ‘Maro Charitra'. Sangeetha Devi Dundoo gets the details

In the conference room of Matinee Entertainment, newcomer Anita and actor Aadarsh watch as Varun Sandesh writes on the white board, ‘Hi, my name is Varun', signals to us and again writes ‘mouna vratham'. He throws up his hands, guffaws and settles down for a chat when we tell him he was live on FM radio earlier in the day. He's the new Balu of Maro Charitra and Anita, the new Swapna. The posters of the film, unveiled with their character names ‘Balu and Swapna' aroused enough curiosity before the title was unveiled.

“A lot of people asked me if it was a sequel to Kotha Bangaru Lokam, since the characters in that film too had the same names,” he says.

Thirty-two years after Kamal Hassan and Sarita made Balu and Swapna memorable comes this remake or rather re-adaptation as the actors term it. “The story and the treatment are contemporary,” says Anita.

Cultural barriers

Anita grew up in the US and while on a visit to Hyderabad, learnt about the film and auditioned for the role. The original Balu and Swapna battle language and caste differences while the new-age couple battle cultural barriers. The film is set in the US with Varun playing a youngster who grew up in the US and Anita's family shifts base to the US from AP. “In the film, I am not fluent in English and Varun cannot speak Telugu,” says Anita. “After I meet her, I start learning Telugu. She speaks to me in Telugu and I rush to my mother to get it translated. There are some funny moments,” pitches in Varun.

It helped that Varun, in reality, spent his childhood years in the US. “I could relate to Balu in the way he speaks, his mannerisms and how he cannot understand why such a big deal is being made when two people fall in love. It's a fresh perspective of Maro Charitra, something like what Anurag Kashyap did with Devdas in Dev D,” says Varun.

Negative traits

Aadarsh, who's acted in many films including Iqbaal and Happy Days, is the second hero. “As Swapna's bawa, my role has shades of grey. I have traits of two or three characters from the original. I give them (Balu and Swapna) enough trouble to make my presence felt,” says Aadarsh.

Varun had watched Maro Charitra many a time earlier and after signing this film, didn't feel pressurised on shouldering Kamal Hassan's role. “In the original, Kamal is a guy in his mid-20s, whereas here I am just over 20.”

A few trademark Maro Charitra sequences have been retained in their essence without being completely replicated, say the trio. The elevator song stands good, but after the initial moments, moves to the deserts of Dubai. “It wouldn't be believable to show an elevator stuck for five minutes in the US today,” Varun reasons. How about the use of mouth organ and the famous coffee mixed with the ashes of Balu's photograph? “If I tell you all that the producers will throw me out of here,” chuckles Varun. He reveals that the picturesque Vizag beach is replaced here with the Niagara falls.

The actors believe that the remake, produced by Dil Raju and directed by Ravi Yadav, will work. “There are many youngsters who haven't seen the old Maro Charitra,” says Aadarsh.