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'Raahu', a concept thriller with an intriguing premise

Debut director Subbu Vedula is confident about the story of his Telugu film, that releases this week

Subbu Vedula moved to Hyderabad six years ago, giving up a well-paying job in the banking sector in the US, for the love of cinema. He wanted to make concept-oriented Telugu films and was determined not to give it a shot, even if it meant roughing it out without the financially secure life he had gotten used to.

His debut directorial venture Raahu, a thriller, is slated to release on February 28. Subbu grew up watching and admiring the work of veteran Telugu filmmakers like Bapu and K Vishwanath, has read the works of Telugu writers extensively, and was equally drawn to world cinema and can talk at length about Coen brothers. He’s confident that the coming together of world cinema sensibilities and the native Telugu flavour will make his film stand out.

Raahu stars Abhiram Varma, Kriti Garg, and Kalakeya Prabhakar among others and the title is a metaphor for a situation the leading lady grapples with. “In the film, Kriti suffers from ‘conversion disorder’ that makes her momentarily blind under severe stress,” explains Subbu.

He has termed the condition as ‘hysterical blindness’ to explain how she loses her vision temporarily when she sees blood. A turn of events warrants her to work around that fear and fight her enemy.

“Darkness prevails when ‘raahu’ takes over the sun. I used the analogy to explain the darkness the girl faces,” says Subbu. He stumbled upon conversion disorder when he was researching another health topic and felt it could be used for an intriguing story. It’s a different way of looking at a house invasion format, he says: “She gets trapped in the villain’s hideout and he’s outside, trying to break in and kill her. About 45 to 50 minutes in the later half of the film works like an extended climax.”

Kriti Garg in a scene from the film

Kriti Garg in a scene from the film   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

It took Subbu barely 20 days to write the script and the dialogues, but the project took two and a half years to take shape. Like every aspiring filmmaker, he had his ordeals in finding help with production. When he left the US, he knew he was taking a risk. He had taken up a course at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and wanted to pursue a career in cinema. “If push comes to shove, I know I have a back-up plan in my banking career as a front office trainer. But I want to tell the stories I believe in,” he says, mentioning that a few more scripts are ready with him.

Most of his scripts are thrillers and he mentions among his favourite Indian thrillers, Chandra Sekhar Yeleti’s Anukokunda Oka Roju. “The thriller space hasn’t been explored enough in Telugu cinema and I find it fascinating,” adds Subbu.

Muted tones

For Raahu, he chose a colour palette of browns, blacks and desaturated greys to create a gritty atmosphere that’s accentuated with music.

He credits actors Abhiram Varma and Kriti for carrying off their roles effectively. He particularly lauds Kriti. “Hers is a tricky part. There are scenes where she uses a pen and begins counting to get over her fear. If such a scene is not performed well, it can end up looking comical.” Subbu adds that Kriti’s part has substance. “She plays an automobile engineer and it’s not a profession assigned to her character for the heck of it. When she’s trapped, she uses her knowledge to try and save herself.”

Raahu is a test for Subbu but he exudes confidence and says, “We have one big name backing our film — the story,” explaining why they are promoting the film on social media with the hashtag #NameIsStory.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 2:22:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/debut-director-subbu-vedula-is-confident-about-his-telugu-concept-thriller-raahu/article30903197.ece

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