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'Colour Photo', the story of a ‘below average’ guy

Suhas and Chandini   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

In the teaser of Colour Photo, actor Suhas tells Chandini that if a guy like him were to romance someone like her, his own friends would poke fun and call the couple ‘black and white’, ‘gulab jamun and rosagulla’... Fresh on the heels of making viewers laugh in Uma Maheshwara Ugra Roopasya, Suhas headlines this romance with screenplay and direction by Sandeep Raj, based on the story by Sai Rajesh who has co-produced the film. This film is Suhas’s first as a male protagonist and takes a closer look at the skin-deep issue.

Sai Rajesh

Sai Rajesh   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The statement ‘based on a true story’ evokes curiosity and when asked, Sai Rajesh says that “nearly 70% of the story” is based on happenings in his life. His story had a happy ending, he married the woman of his dreams: “It took me two years to gather courage and express my feelings to her. She immediately agreed, which made me wonder why I hesitated so much.”

This was in the 90s. Growing up, Sai Rajesh was made to feel conscious of his looks by those around him. His confidence took a beating, he thought he was too dark and not handsome. “Boys who are made to feel they are ‘below average’ will relate to this film,” he says.

Colour, caste discrimination

Colour Photo is set in the mid-90s in Machilipatnam. Colour and caste discriminations are among the things discussed in the film. A lot of my experiences have gone into the story, and the rest is dramatised,” says Sai Rajesh. A chunk of the dramatisation lies in the antagonist’s part, played by actor Sunil.

Colour Photo is one of the first stories Sai Rajesh wanted to narrate as an aspiring filmmaker. A love for cinema made him move to Hyderabad from Nellore, and from 2005 to 2011, he was one among hundreds of aspirants hoping to get a toehold in cinema: “I took up a data entry job and would spend a few hours each day typing study materials and questions papers. The money I made through this, along with the support of my friends who knew my passion for cinema, kept me going.”

  • Did you know? The key cast and crew of Hrudaya Kaleyam worked with fictitious names. Sai Rajesh called himself Steven Shankar, combining the first names of his favourite filmmakers — Steven Spielberg and Tamil director Shankar. Sai Rajesh is admittedly a huge fan of Mani Ratnam and named his daughters Anjali and Amrutha (Telugu version of Kannathil Muthamittal).
  • COVID-19 Helpline: With the help of seven volunteers, Sai Rajesh has been addressing distress tweets falling under #COVID19TSHelp and #COVID19APHelp. This includes sharing relevant information, helping people connect with ambulance services or facilitate SOS calls with a physician or pulmonologist for those who are under home quarantine. On an average, the team deals with 80 to 110 requests for help.

He wasn’t making headway in the film industry. But rather than giving up, he decided to make his own film: “No one was willing to hear my story. I got tired of rejection,” he says.

Around the same time, he observed the popularity of YouTube videos that were spoofs of popular Telugu films and stars. This led to the outrageous comedy, Hrudaya Kaleyam (2014), starring Sampoornesh Babu. Hrudaya Kaleyam, which he write, produced and directed, drew attention and a lot of laughs but it didn’t help Sai Rajesh’s career. “The industry refused to accept the film. Whenever I brought up the story of Colour Photo, people doubted if I could make a sensitive romance,” he shares.

Sai Rajesh made one more film starring Sampoornesh Babu — Kobbari Matta (2019). He produced the film directed by Rupak Ronaldson. This laugh riot also fetched good returns, and Sai Rajesh decided to produce Colour Photo.

Given that the film stems from his own story, didn’t he want to direct it? “I’ve known Sandeep for a while; he has similar sensibilities and writing style. He was looking for an opportunity to direct and I collaborated with him,” says Sai Rajesh.

Machilipatnam of the 90s


Suhas   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Actors Suhas and Chandini were roped in. Moved by the story, Sunil came aboard and turned out to be a source of encouragement for the team: “He believed in the story, in our film, and strongly supported us,” Sai Rajesh adds.

For the 90s milieu, the film was shot in areas of Machilipatnam that are still untouched by rampant urbanisation and an earthy colour palette was chosen for the visuals (cinematography by Venkat R Shakamuri). Kaala Bhairava’s music score is said to be one of the assets for the film.

Looking back, Sai Rajesh concedes it was tough to shake off the deeply ingrained thought of being ‘below average’ until he became a director and producer. “Once you are successful, nothing else matters,” he says, signing off.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 3:10:11 PM |

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