A decade hence, the Srihari-K.S. Nageswara Rao team is back, again
The nameplate outside the bungalow reads ‘K. V. Vijaya Krishna Prasad.’ Inside, the atmosphere is somewhat tense. The tall and powerful Vijaya Krishna Prasad seem to be unamused by what the strongly armed, brawny guy has said. A youngster is standing at a distance wearing a quizzical look. Satisfied with the expressions, director K.S. Nageswara Rao orders a ‘cut’. The baby crane mounted camera handled by Adusumilli Vijaya Kumar whirs to a stop.
The location is White House in Film Nagar and the shoot is for Image Films’Sri Sailam, produced by Tadivaka Ramesh Naidu. Veteran Krishnam Raju plays Vijaya Krishna Prasad. The brawny Sri Sailam is Srihari. The young man is debutant Ram Kiran, the second hero. As the shoot recommences after a few alterations in the actors’ positions, one gathers that the college going youngster brings Sri Sailam home at the instance of his father Krishna Prasad, who is also the Vice-Chancellor of the university to which his college is affiliated.
The camera pans on Srihari. He says Ram Kiran lacks potential to make it to the boxing ring. Now, the camera tilts towards Krishnam Raju. A visibly upset Krishnam Raju slaps him hard. Imagine if one has to take the slap some more times if the director orders retakes!
Mercifully, it is not so as the veteran actor knows how to create the impact without actually hitting hard. Srihari wears a puzzled look as he had only uttered the truth. With that particular block in the scene done, a brief recess follows.
Interestingly, Srihari started his career with Brahmanaidu in which Krishnam Raju played the hero. It is after a little over two decades that the two are starring together. The director is particularly pleased as the veteran actor has shunned many offers before and agreed to work for his project since he liked the story, his role and the narrative style of the director who had earlier made Rickshaw Rudraiah with him.
Srihari’s first film as a hero was Police, followed by Deva (both produced by K. Mahendra) and Sambiah, all three directed by K.S. Nageswara Rao. Released in a calendar year, they turned hits, establishing Srihari as a lead star. It is close to a decade since the twosome worked together again. “The vibes are intact. We are on a second hat-trick trial,” the director says with confidence.
Nagendra Babu plays a special role. The film introduces a new heroine, Sajitha, from Kerala. Suhani plays Srihari’s sister and pairs with Ram Kiran. Sindhu is the other heroine. The unit went to Jammu and Kashmir to film a few scenes and a song at Srinagar, Gulmarg and Sonamarg as per the dictates of the subject. It is revealed that Krishnam Raju is shown as an ex-Governor of Jammu and Kashmir and there is an intriguing drama between his character and Sri Sailam’s.
The setting changes slightly and the shoot commences. Krishnam Raju, an ex-boxing champ, invites Srihari for a boxing bout. The expressions on Srihari’s face indicates that he is out to take revenge. At that moment, he forgets that he is a bus driver for an affiliated college and is facing the V-C. He throws a wild punch at his superior that would have been difficult to defend even by ordinary boxers. But the 1980s champ is smart enough to defend himself and suddenly changes his mood, appreciating Srihari for his skills. In the next scene, Krishnam Raju requests Srihari to be his son’s boxing coach. In an emotional tone, he says his wife wished to see her son as a boxing champion. Will he accept the offer or won’t he? “That part we will shoot after the lunch break,” smiles the director. For us, it is pack-up time.