Exclusive: A one night story that thrills & entertains

Y.Sunita Chowdhary

Thellavarithe Guruvaram is an interesting title for a film and this second project of Sri Simha will be hitting the screens soon. The director handling this project is Manikanth Gelli. Doesn’t the title sound familiar? Manikanth explains the story behind it. “Tellavarithe Guruvaram is written by my friend Nagendra. He is an AD but is more into writing. All of us were amateurs when we started off. During Lagna Patrika functions, the priest announces the date and the day of the week with the time. Sometimes the muhurat falls in the early hours of the next morning but it is read as, for example, Budhavaram ratri 4.30 am muhurtam – anaga, pelli tellavarithe Guruvaram. The story in a nutshell is about what could have happened on a Wednesday night. It happens over a night and it is a rom com and the story flows from a thin line. It obviously revolves around a wedding. The hero is averse to a wedding and it is about the incidents that take place after flees home from a marriage.”

This is Manikanth’s debut project and he took two years to set it up. They began writing the story towards the end of 2018 and it took a year to finish the screenplay and dialogues. The director worked for RX 100 and we ask why he didn’t rope in the hero of the film, Karthikeya. He replies, “Karthikeya has a mass image and we were looking for a fresh face. My friend Prashant Kopineedi was an associate cameraman and Simha was an AD at Rangasthalam. Prashant wanted us to pitch this story to him and I met Simha. He had then finished Matthu Vadalara and was apparently listening to many stories. Also Prashant was on his trials to bag a movie. Misha Narang is the heroine and Chitra Shukla is another lead. The entire cast participated in the workshop during Covid times and it really paid off. Simha speaks with Godavari district accent. He is a guy from Bhimavaram, we shot major portions here. Kalabhairava’s music and Misha’s acting is the highlight of the film. There is a song which will be talked about. Ajay of RX100 was of major support to me when my film was taking off.”

We ask the director about his academics and his interest in literature. Manikanth says, “I would watch films and at the same time I was good at academics. After coming home from school, I would be glued to the television and on Fridays would watch films without fail. Next day would be a narration time. In the tenth standard I wrote a play and it was about what if Shiva would do if he were to be visible in the modern era. Later when I was moving up in academics, I was an active participant in one of the clubs in engineering. Karthikeya (RX100) joined arts and dramatics and I started writing for a short film. I earlier shot five short films and a video in college. I love the craft of writing and shooting, the entire process. I also worked for three years at NFCL and it was where I met my wife. She is a north Indian and didn’t know Telugu and Telugu cinema but she gave me great support and pushed me to quit my job and pursue my dream.”

He further says, There is a vast difference between bookish knowledge and practical knowledge and you realise it when you start working as an AD. Even while I was doing a job I did two short films. RX 100 film hero Karthikeya was the lead in it and I made my wife the heroine. I was associate director in RX100. I was in the scripting of Maha Samudram and one day Ajay came to me and told me to begin direction trials and not waste further time. He pushed me to take crucial decisions in my life be it my marriage or my career. He made me realise that I could do what I believe in. He doesn’t preach anything, just says do this and do that and it works.”

He adds, “One day I was asked to explain a scene to the heroine and I was reluctant. It was a bold scene and I was feeling shy. He explained to me that I could become a director only if I explained the scene and emotion properly to the actor and extract the required performance from them. Ajay is not good at Hindi or English well but speaks with great deal of self-confidence which is a fabulous trait. He knows his story inside out and speaks with great deal of clarity. He made a proper packed action thriller and truly inspired me to go ahead in my career.”

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