Movies

K V Guhan’s new film explores mayhem on the ‘Highway’

Manasa and Anand Deverakonda in ‘Highway’

Manasa and Anand Deverakonda in ‘Highway’

The multihyphenate K V Guhan, who juggles responsibilities as cinematographer, writer and director, believes that people cross paths for a reason and certain meetings can change the course of one’s life. His new Telugu film, Highway, which will stream on Aha Telugu from August 19, is a psychological thriller that explores what happens when key characters of the story cross paths on a highway and go through a life-changing experience.

“The story involves a still photographer (Anand Deverakonda), an innocent young woman (Manasa Radhakrishnan), a criminal (Abhishek Banerjee) and a police officer (Saiyami Kher). This is one of the experimental, concept-driven stories I had written during the pandemic,” Guhan explains. His previous directorial project WWW (streaming on Sony LIV) touched upon cybercrime and prior to that, Guhan won appreciation for the thriller 118 starring Kalyan Ram, Nivetha Thomas and Shalini Pandey.

These concept-oriented thrillers stemmed from his interest to put forth stories that are universal. “The language and locations will change according to a region, but the crux of 118 or WWW or Highway can work anywhere,” he reasons.

K V Guhan

K V Guhan | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

For his new film, the makers were aware that the title might make movie lovers recall director Imtiaz Ali’s Hindi film Highway starring Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda. Guhan reasons that no other title would have been apt for his story A starting point for the story idea stemmed from Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men. “As I developed the story, I realised there is potential to make viewers curious to know what happens to the characters during their journey.”

Both WWW and Highway were conceptualised for digital streaming. Guhan says the digital medium gives a writer-director freedom to explore new concepts without having to pander to the box office: “There is a lot of freedom in being able to narrate a story without a templated approach. However, the framework is smaller and there are budget constraints.” 

Guhan roped in Anand Deverakonda when he learnt that the actor was on the lookout for stories with different concepts: “His brother Vijay (Deverakonda) is a huge star, while Anand is keen to have his own identity.”

Abhishek Banerjee was Guhan’s first choice to play the psychopath killer, ever since he saw his performance in the web series Paatal Lok: “I was keen to introduce Abhishek to Telugu cinema and luckily, he liked the story and agreed.” 

Highway was filmed on the highways near Hyderabad, Araku Valley and Chikmagalur in approximately 40 days. In his writing process, Guhan says he was conscious of making the characters have an emotional connect with viewers. “International films can have a serial killer or a psychopath character and say that he is just wired that way because of a chemical imbalance. I wasn’t sure if such an explanation would work here. So I wrote Abhishek’s character giving some amount of reasoning to show what makes him the way he is.” 

Guhan had earlier directed the Tamil film Inidhu Inidhu, an adaptation of the Telugu film Happy Days. In all his directorial projects, he took on responsibilities of cinematography, and writing the story and screenplay. He says this multitasking is possible when the scale of the film is not too large. “For a larger film, I will need to delegate the cinematography to someone else. For a smaller film, it is easier for me to handle the camera since I know the vision with what I wrote the film.”

In the initial years of his career, Guhan learnt the ropes of editing at Minbimbangal, a subsidiary of Kavithalayaa Productions, Chennai. The editing skill sets worked to his advantage when he turned director. “My filming is precise and I have a good understanding of the frames. This is possible because I spent four years at the editing table. At Minbimbangal, I interacted with FTII (Film and Television Institute of India, Pune) alumni and it changed the course of my thinking. I think I am able to work on experimental stories because of the exposure I received through my FTII friends.”

On the other hand, Guhan has worked as a cinematographer for several mainstream films. He began by assisting P C Sreeram and later was on board for Athadu, Dookudu, Aagadu, the Hindi version of Khushi and Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu, among other films: “I have had the best of both worlds, experimental films as well as mainstream ventures.”

In the pipeline is another directorial project starring Kalyan Ram.

(Highway streams on Aha from August 19)


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Printable version | Aug 16, 2022 3:58:46 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/k-v-guhans-new-film-explores-mayhem-on-the-highway/article65771572.ece