Short film Movies

The Telugu short film ‘Manasanamaha’, unveiled during lockdown, wins appreciation

A still from ‘Manasanamaha’

A still from ‘Manasanamaha’   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Written and directed by Deepak Reddy, the short film is a romantic drama narrated in reverse

A new Telugu short film titled Manasanamaha (streaming on Kala Mediaworks channel on YouTube) has been winning hearts. Written and directed by aspiring feature filmmaker Deepak Reddy, the short that’s a little over 16 minutes has a youngster musing on the nature of love and recounting experiences from three past relationships.

Manasanamaha is a relationship drama, narrated for the most part in reverse.

Deepak hadn’t planned to unveil the short film during lockdown. He had completed it around six months ago, shown it to a few leading producers in the Telugu film industry and wants to make it a full-length feature film.

Earlier, a prospective producer had even advised him against uploading the short film digitally, since the story idea will be revealed. While the feature film plans are still on, the Coronavirus outbreak and the ensuing lockdown made Deepak consider uploading Manasanamaha on YouTube for everyone to see. “The feature film script is different, and the production scale is larger, so we went ahead with the digital release,” says Deepak.

Manasanamaha was written in 2018 and filmed within six days; the crew are all Deepak’s colleagues at Kala Media. The firm was established in 2014 by Deepak and his business partner Harinath Gungamari and specialises in wedding photography, corporate and ad films. From time to time, they make short films. Manasanamaha is Deepak’s fourth short film.

The short stars Viraj Ashwin, Drishika Chander, Srivalli Raghvender, Prithvi Sharma and Bunny Abhiran. Produced by Shilpa Gajjala, the short has music by Kamran and playback singer Yazin Nizar has sung a song. The narrative stands out for its technical finesse; the sound design and mixing was executed by Sachin Sudhakaran of Sync Cinema, who has worked on much appreciated films like D-16 (Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru in Tamil).

Edurolu Raju’s cinematography captures the transition from one frame to another as the story progresses through several long takes. Sometimes it’s a leaf, a glass of water or a mug of beer that transits from one frame to another, connecting the sequences. “Most of the editing was planned at the scripting stage,” says Deepak.

Deepak Reddy

Deepak Reddy   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Since the story is narrated backwards, from the break-up to the first meeting, and all the actions happen in reverse, pre-visualisation was crucial. Deepak’s team designed 2D animated storyboards so that the crew had no ambiguity in what to execute.

Scratch the surface of what appears like a simple rom-com and Deepak presents the protagonist Surya as a metaphor to the sun, romancing women who represent different seasons — Chaitra (spring), Varsha (monsoon) and Sita (winter). He equates it to “the sun going through different seasons”. Since the story unfolds from Surya’s point of view and in reality, thought processes can be random, the first few minutes offer glimpses into Surya’s observations and thoughts. Eventually, Deepak had to bring in a structure to narrate the story.

Deepak is an engineer who got drawn towards cinema. After his engineering graduation in Kurnool, he briefly worked with an IT firm. He then enrolled in a film school in Hyderabad but eventually dropped out, not wanting to be bound by film theories. “I wanted to know the rules of filmmaking only to break them,” he says.

Before Tharun Bhascker’s Pellichoopulu (2016), Deepak remembers that it wasn’t easy for outsiders to break into the Telugu film industry and pitch stories to producers. His family, too, wanted him to be financially secure. That’s how he and Harikanth had started Kala Media.

In the meantime, Deepak also did a masters programme in the US. Not wanting to be disconnected with cinema, in 2016 he made the short film Hide and Seek, which won him appreciation in Telugu film circles.

The love for cinema was further fuelled when he was asked if he could assist and coordinate things on the sets of Sekhar Kammula’s Fidaa, when the crew was filming in the US. “That’s when I decided I had to make films. I convinced my mother and returned to India in mid 2017,” says Deepak.

Once in India, he felt he needed to understand the business dynamics of the film industry before he turned director, and started Weekend Cinema, a marketing and distribution company and has so far distributed 14 films.

The next step is to make his directorial debut through a feature film.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 4:24:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/telugu-short-film-manasanamaha-unveiled-during-lockdown-wins-appreciation/article31214919.ece

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