Director Clax: ‘Bedurulanka 2012’ is an entertaining social satire, not an experimental film

Meet Clax, who debuts as writer and director with the Telugu film ‘Bedurulanka 2012’, the story and characters of which stem from varied inspirations — testing of the Agni missile, doomsday predictions, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and even Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead

Updated - August 23, 2023 05:03 pm IST

Published - August 22, 2023 03:35 pm IST

Kartikeya Gummakonda in a still from director Clax’s Telugu film ‘Bedurulanka 2012’

Kartikeya Gummakonda in a still from director Clax’s Telugu film ‘Bedurulanka 2012’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Much before the movie bug bit him and he assisted directors Ram Gopal Varma, Sudheer Varma and others in Telugu cinema, Clax (we shall come to the story behind this name in a bit), witnessed the testing of the Agni missile from the Wheeler Island (now renamed after APJ Abdul Kalam) off the coast of Odisha. He was then a part of a civilian organisation associated with the DRDO. “We could literally feel the island shaking,” he recalls, and adds, “Sorry, I do not remember the exact year of the testing”. Bedurulanka 2012, his first film as a writer and director that stars Kartikeya Gummakonda and Neha Shetty, which will release in theatres on August 25, is a fictitious story of people on an island who fear that the world is coming to an end.

Clax, whose real name is Uddaraju Venkata Krishna Panduranga Raju, says the experience of watching the missile testing, the doomsday prediction that led to Hollywood films such as the science fiction disaster film 2012, and a dialogue in Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai about people’s behaviour when there is no fear or burden of future, served as inspirations when he began writing Bedurulanka 2012. The island in this film is Yedurulanka. Since its people live in fear, he titled it Bedurulanka. A social satire and dramedy took shape. Fake godmen begin exploiting the anxious people filled with fear and some people begin to act strangely, with no tomorrow to live up to.

The story behind the name Clax

Director Clax makes his debut with the Telugu film ‘Bedurulanka 2012’

Director Clax makes his debut with the Telugu film ‘Bedurulanka 2012’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Clax rewinds before discussing the film. He hails from Vempadu, a village near Bhimavaram in Andhra Pradesh, and remembers exploring any opportunity to learn English. “I went to a Telugu medium school and we began learning English only from Class VI. I would talk to a friend who went to an English medium school and whenever I fumbled, I would use random filler words that had no meaning. My friend said it sounded like ‘clax’ and began referring to me with that word. Eventually I got used to friends calling me Clax. Even in my village people call me Clax.” 

The name has added to the curiosity around Bedurulanka 2012. Clax says with disarming honesty that he never aspired to become a filmmaker. A B.Com graduate, he then specialised in systems administration as a Microsoft Certified Professional, took up jobs as varied as marketing credit cards to being a systems engineer. All the while, he leveraged any opportunity to speak in English. “I would call the Airtel customer care number so frequently and talk at length that they barred my number from contacting them for three months,” he laughs.

When he took a keen interest in cinema, he assisted Sudheer Varma for Swamy Ra Ra and Keshava and Ram Gopal Varma for Killing Veerappan, and Deva Katta for the Baahubali - Before the Beginning web series that was later shelved. Bedurulanka 2012 story took shape alongside and though several producers liked the premise and the story, they were sceptical about its commercial viability. Until Ravindra Benerjee Muppaneni came along and backed his vision.

Kartikeya and Neha Shetty in ‘Bedurulanka 2012’

Kartikeya and Neha Shetty in ‘Bedurulanka 2012’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The protagonist character played by Kartikeya, says Clax, was inspired by Howard Roark of The Fountainhead who stands out from the crowd. “I gave my hero a powerful name — Shiva. Kartikeya being a diehard fan of Chiranjeevi expanded it into the superstar’s real name, Shiva Shankar Vara Prasad.” 

Disaster movies

In the initial stages of the film, Clax was concerned that Bedurulanka 2012 should not overlap with the Telugu film Skylab, which was inspired by the real life happenings in a Telangana village in the late 1970s, when an entire village feared the falling of the Skylab satellite. “I spoke to Vishvak Khanderao, the director, and was relieved to know that both are different stories. Hollywood has a number of movies on World War II and the concept of the end of the world, and each one of them is different. Likewise, our films are also markedly different.”

Clax is confident that Bedurulanka will sustain the interest of the audience. “Most of the characters are inspired by real life and cinematically exaggerated. I think the audience will watch with interest. The characters in the story are scared of their future, but viewers know that the world did not end in 2012. So their plight and what they do in desperation lends itself to comic situations.”

The director points out sound design as one of Bedurulanka 2012’s strengths. “Vinoth Thanigasalam showed a lot of interest and designed the sound to enhance the viewing experience. I liked his work in the Tamil film Kadaseela Biriyani.”

Clax has other scripts ready to take shape as films but is keen to see the reception to Bedurulanka 2012. “This is the most entertaining script I have written. The others are more niche. I will decide which script to turn into a film depending on how people receive my first film.”

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