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JK Bharavi happy in a niche zone

JK Bharavi  

Think devotional movies and the one name that comes to mind is writer-director J K Bharavi. Reluctant to spill the beans over his latest story that is to be directed by K Raghavendra Rao as Om Namo Venkatesaya, Bharavi tells MetroPlus why devotional subjects are his forte and what makes Nagarjuna the only actor in the Telugu film industry with the guts and inclination to try roles in this particular genre.

After having written Annamayya, what more remains to be shown in Om Namo Venkatesaya? “Both Annamayya and Hathiram Baba are devotees of Lord Venkateswara. Even Nagarjuna raised this doubt and the director asked him to first listen to the narration and make up his mind. Once he heard it, Nag was convinced. We changed the title from Hathiram Baba to Om Namo Venkatesaya for a good reason. The mantra is also called ‘Venkateswara Astakshari’. The very sound of the mantra or the title of the film will wipe away our sins. The more you utter the mantra, the sweeter it sounds and more powerful it becomes. It is about all things good.”

Bharavi’s love for revolutionary movies reflects in his devotional subjects as well; his protagonists talk against existing norms and mores. He had been working on the story of Om Namo Venkatesaya for a decade. He points out, “The director and I haven’t worked so hard on any film, including Annamayya. There will certainly be something fresh in it and I believe people will travel with us. It is a musical, with many songs.”

Speaking of his personality, he says, “I always get involved and immersed in any film. When I write for a character, I become that person, be it the Lord, the devotee, the heroine or the villain. I have no competition from directors Trivikram to Paruchuri, from writers Satyanand to Yandamuri Veerendranath. No one ventures into this zone and this is my forte.”

He insists Nagarjuna is the best expert in choosing his characters. When movie goers thought Annamayya was his best, he surprised them by doing Sri Ramadasu, thenhe did Shirdi Sai as well. Nagarjuna doesn’t take up roles blindly, apparently he grills the narrator with a zillion questions and is very difficult to please in his choice of roles. Yet he is not calculative. He quips, “He internalizes the character, at the same time he seeks an explanation as to how the devotees are different both in literal and commercial sense. See his exemplary work in that song ‘ Nanu brovamani cheppave’. Why did Nag again choose to portray another devotee of Venkateswara? Didn’t his father don the roles of Pandurangadu, Bhakta Thukaram etc? Didn’t NTR play the many avatars of Vishnu? In films that revolves around devotees, every subject is different and sweet.”

Since nobody has permission to shoot in Tirumala, a temple set would come up in a studio. They have even zeroed on beautiful locations. Pragya Jaiswal and Anushka Shetty are the heroines in Om Namo Venkatesaya which will go to the sets soon.


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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 1:00:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/JK-Bharavi-happy-in-a-niche-zone/article14470839.ece

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