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Twenty minutes to fate

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Twist in the tale Meera Jasmine and Allari Naresh in ‘Akasaramanna'.
Twist in the tale Meera Jasmine and Allari Naresh in ‘Akasaramanna'.

M.L. NARASIMHAM

Director Ashok's ‘Akasaramanna' is a comedy thriller with a twist.

Well-known choreographer-turned-filmmaker Ashok calls his film Akasaramanna a comedy thriller. The first of its kind in Telugu cinema, the entire story is set in a time frame of twenty minutes between 12.20 a.m. and 12.40 a.m.

“It is based on karma theory laced with humour and suspense,” says the London-trained director. He had experimented with reverse screenplay, a narrative style he had learnt as a student of the film institute at Manchester University, London. “In a reverse screenplay, the audience will be shown the climax in the beginning but they do not know that it is the climax.”

A man of many talents, Ashok is a trained Kuchipudi dancer, singer, lyricist, instrument player, choreographer and filmmaker, and was also a child actor. Watching the young lad of five placing steps along with his sister, who was learning Kuchipudi from Vempati Kodanda Rama Sarma, the guru offered to teach young Ashok for free. “I learned Kuchipudi for 12 years and later western dance and was part of a troupe giving over five thousand shows all over the world. After completing B. Tech in Electronics and Telecommunications at Vijayawada, I told my parents that I would pursue career as a choreographer in films. My dad relented and advised me to try for a year in films, and otherwise I'd have a professional degree to fall back,” smiles Ashok.

He joined as assistant to choreographers D.K.S. Babu and Swarna during the making of Muthyala Subbaiah's Aadalla…Mazaaka. He was assistant to Prabhu Deva and Lawrence before branching out as an independent choreographer. His repertoire includes 250 songs for films like Pedarayudu, Master and Annamayya.

During this time, the ace choreographer received an invitation from Manchester University to teach Indian classical dance. He found time in the evenings to pursue a script and screenplay writing course at the University's film school. Ashok returned to India and made 60 documentaries, one of which, Navajeevanam – New Life (2002) on street children was screened at the Hollywood Film Festival. He won the best director Nandi award for his children's film Ushodayam (2007) and made his first commercial film Flash News the following year.

However, Ashok's his tryst with cinema had come much earlier. The late filmmaker T. Krishna introduced him as a child actor and Ashok has acted in about 15 films including Repati Pourulu, Navabharatham and Gaduggai.

Ashok roped in established actors for Akasaramanna, thanks to producer Manyam Ramesh. “There are 13 characters of which 7 play a major role. They have different mindsets. One can find all the flavours of emotions in ‘Allari' Naresh's role. Sivaji is cast as a rich man's son, leading a playful life, Meera Jasmine's role has totally different connotations and she liked the character so much that she has adjusted her dates to do this character,” explains Ashok. “Gauri Pandit plays a modern, trendy girl. Rajeev goes after quick money and an easy life and Rao Ramesh plays a sincere police officer. Venumadhav plays a heckler. Each one of them has done some wrong and those twenty minutes will decide their fate.”

Surprisingly the choreographer in him decided that only two songs (music by Chakri) would fit into the story: one a pub song at the beginning to introduce the characters and the other during the closing credits.

Akasaramanna is playing in theatres from today.


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