Interview Movies

‘Cinema Bandi’: A camera and a village

A still from Cinema Bandi   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“I was in Class VII when I tried making films using my dad’s video camera,” says Praveen Kandregula, “My friends and I did all sorts of jugaad. There was no YouTube back then; but we made short films and watched them.” Praveen makes his directorial debut Kandregula with Cinema Bandi, which will stream on Netflix from May 14. The film is about an autorickshaw driver who chances upon an expensive video camera and tries to make a feature film with the help of folks from a nondescript village.

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The trailer of Cinema Bandi indicates a story laced with humour that looks at how a village pins its hopes on a film that could bring attention to the drought-hit region.

Praveen pitched the story to filmmaker duo Raj and DK at the NFDC (National Film Development Corporation) Film Bazaar in 2018. He concedes that the documentary Supermen of Malegaon (2008) was one of the inspirations: “I thought it would be interesting to make a Telugu film on those lines. Raj and DK liked the story and suggested that we first make a short film,” he recalls.

Praveen Kandregula

Praveen Kandregula   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Praveen and his co-writers, Vasanth Maringanti and Krishna Pratyusha, set to work. They were clear that the project requires new faces to make the film appear raw and realistic. An audition process followed and actors with theatre experience were chosen. “We shot in the Gollapalli village of Karnataka. In these borderlands, there are many Telugu families that settled there decades ago. Their Telugu is laced with Kannada.”

Among the cast, two actors were familiar with the dialect that is a mix of Telugu and Kannada, while the others finetuned the accent by interacting with the locals. An elderly gentleman from the village was roped in to play the thatha (grandfather).

A still from Cinema Bandi

A still from Cinema Bandi   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Raj and DK liked the short film and greenlit the feature film. Cinema Bandi was filmed in 2019, and plans were afoot to release it in the theatres in 2020. “The pandemic struck and we held on to the film. An independent film like this needs a word-of-mouth publicity for people to come to the theatres; that was proving to be tough even after theatres reopened. So we decided to go for a digital release,” says Praveen.

He learnt about the Gollapalli region and its dialect while working on ad films in Bengaluru. Praveen had been a cinematographer before he turned director, and worked on a few short films, documentaries and feature films: “I wanted to become a director. However, I learnt cinematography so that the technical expertise will fetch me some work in the film industry,” he says.

Hailing from Vizag, Praveen remembers the days when he made short films with [Viva] Harsha and Shanmukh Jaswanth: “Even as boys, we spent more time with the camera than playing cricket.”

Praveen says the promotional song, ‘Cinema theesinam’, sung by Roll Rida and Tharun Bhascker was intended for another independent Telugu film, but its director Varun Reddy graciously lent the song for Cinema Bandi.

Next, Praveen is working on an urban-centric story.


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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 6:39:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/director-praveen-kandregula-talks-about-cinema-bandi-in-which-village-folks-try-to-make-a-film/article34534204.ece

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