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The trigger for the story of Naga Shaurya’s ‘Aswathama’ is the Nirbhaya incident, says director Ramana Teja

Naga Shaurya with Ramana Teja (right)

Naga Shaurya with Ramana Teja (right)   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

The filmmaker makes his directorial debut with a movie that is aimed at motivating women to be conscious and aware of what’s happening around them

At 26, Ramana Teja will be making his debut as a director with the Telugu film Aswathama, starring Naga Shaurya and Mehreen Kaur Pirzada, that is scheduled to release on January 31. He narrates how he swam against the tide to become a director.

“I was interested in films since my V std and I remember the post-mortem of movies my father would indulge in after returning from the theatre. I was a silent participant; films influenced me subconsciously but I continued with academics,” he says.

While studying engineering in Chennai, he shot a short film on his mobile. The Tamil film Raja Rani starring Nayantara spurred his interest to join films and he began working as an assistant director in Gaddam Gang, the Rajashekar-starrer which was a remake of the Tamil film Soodhu Kavvum. “Before that, I interned for Soodhu Kavvum for a month without my parents knowledge. When I heard that the same film is being remade, I contacted Jeevita Rajashekar and worked as an AD in Hyderabad,” shares Teja.

It was in Hyderabad that Teja learnt everything from scratch and got to know about all the departments. His parents sensed his interest in films and sent him to the U.S. to study Business Management. There, he applied to a film school to learn screenplay writing and got busy studying both the subjects. Eventually he got both degrees.

Teja observes, “What I learnt in India about cinema is different from that I learnt in the US. A sequence can be written in seven different ways. I had the chance to intern for a few films. After returning to India, I didn’t find many opportunities and I also lost contacts during those three and a half years.”

During that phase, he met many producers who wanted him to direct films with a small budget, but he had decided to direct a film only if it has a reasonable budget. While seeking opportunities, Teja got into a digital promotional company as a content writer; there he met Naga Shaurya who had approached the company for the promotions of his film, Chalo. His interactions with Shaurya helped him strike a rapport.

Teja goes down memory lane and recalls, “One fine day he (Shaurya) told me he had a story that he had written; I heard it and kept giving inputs. He said he wanted me to direct it. I am a screenplay writer and since I was looking for an opportunity, I agreed. Shaurya wrote the story and Phani and I developed the screenplay.”

The trigger point of the story is the Nirbhaya incident that disturbed the country. The film goads women to be conscious and aware of what’s happening around them. It is an emotional action film and Shaurya is not playing a vigilante.

Teja shares, “We took cinematic liberties to execute the narration. An incident in the family spurs violence but here he is speaking for all. When the Draupadi disrobing happened, the Kauravas were questioned by Aswathama (Dronacharya’s son who supported Kauravas in the war). He took moral responsibility for the incident, told them they were wrong, because of which he got to live longer.”

Ask Teja about the poster where an infant is clutching the hero’s hand. He hints at the protection a newborn girl child seeks right from the time she is in the womb. Naga Shaurya is so far known for soft, romantic roles and an action detour Jadoogadu misfired. But Teja affirms that this time, the anger is accompanied by action, and the story warrants it, and it will not go wrong.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 7:43:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/the-trigger-for-the-story-of-naga-shauryas-aswathama-is-the-nirbhaya-incident-says-director-ramana-teja/article30674357.ece

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