Srikant’s desire to do something creative started when he was in standard VI, and Doordarshan and the local Grandhalayam were his most powerful influences. The library used to conduct cultural programmes every November in which Srikant participated till he was in standard XII. Sagara Sangamam, Hrudayam, Prema Desam, Swarna Kamalam and Swayam Krushi were some of the films he saw repeatedly and he resolved to direct something similarly beautiful some day. “I liked the values imparted by those stories,” he says. “Art shouldn’t be pursued for art’s sake or entertainment; there should be a message, an undercurrent that would be fulfilling. Many directors have their own vision and thinking but the common aspect in all movies is the underlying truth. Now only in cinema, we have to be of some use to society in whatever we do.”
Srikant Addala is unaffected by success and has begun working on his third story. His first, Kottha Bangaru Lokam, revolved around attraction among teens. “I always doubted if getting attracted to a person was right or wrong; I wanted to show the feelings as they were, make people understand and not have a debate. If we can stand beside our parents and ogle at a girl, can we blame our parents for our upbringing? I just wanted that sense of judgement in a person.” The director, his siblings and their father, a retired EO from the Endowments Department, are quietly enjoying Sankranti in their village oblivious of the larger festival — the unprecedented success of SVSC. Srikant simply remarks, “Manasu ki baaga anipinchindi.”
Srikant is down to earth and focussed, sitting on the floor to lunch with his assistant directors during the film shoot rather than hobnobbing with the heroes. We talk about an imperative need for change in society and stress good human relationships, he says, but we don’t bother to smile at a person next to us. His story germinated with that idea. He travelled to Yanam and other places in East Godavari to study people and brought a slice of life onto the screen. “For two brothers to behave as friends and address each other as Yearaa, Poraa, they need to cross a lot of levels in life. I had to show them as safeguarding their identity yet having deep love and respect for each other. I didn’t want melodrama at all. Seeta is from Ramayana, Bharata Desam is the ‘Vakili’ and ‘Malle Puvu Chettu’ is the family.”
The director says he worked on the script in detail for a long time but the real excitement began only after Venkatesh gave the green signal and Mahesh joined in. Venkatesh wanted a star who was on par with him so that the film would have a wider reach. There were no ego clashes at work. Srikant talks about his characters fondly. “Usually two brothers with an age difference of two are not expressive. They do have respect and love but will not or cannot show it easily. I wanted to bring out that realism. In 80 per cent of the families in the villages, I noticed that the father is good, the sons are struggling to find a job and establish themselves. But small attitudinal problems create differences and they patch up again easily. Through the film, I wanted to convey that if you correct your problem, life would be easier.” He feels viewers can see themselves in those characters.
The auteur reveals Seeta was an imaginary character seldom found in society, whereas the others were more or less real. He could see Venkatesh in his brother and Mahesh, though not himself, is representative of today’s youth, whereas Prakash Raj symbolised so many middle-class fathers.
“Both Venkatesh and Mahesh had a camaraderie that was pleasant to watch,” says Srikant. “They have great identities. I told them I wished to see them as common people and simplicity is a crucial thing for the film, and they delivered the goods. As the story kept developing, so did my efficiency and the clarity on the characters but I give credit to the audience, they are large-hearted and lapped up the film. I have great regard for my producer Dil Raju, who helped this story transform into a movie. I heard the film had influenced a lot of people while they worked, they felt the essence and performed it better and also implemented it in their lives practically.”
Art shouldn’t be pursued for art’s sake or entertainment; there should be a message, an undercurrent that would be fulfilling.