Ramesh Verma is in a happy space. He in a chat with Klapboardpost com, tells Y. Sunita Chowdhary that Khiladi will be a blockbuster and Raviteja is in a resurgent mood giving other stars a race for their money. He recollects the positive vibes on the sets of Rakshasudu and the films he wanted to do post its release. “I wanted to do a love story, it is about a hero and two heroines. That story is a dream project and I even discussed it with Nithiin while Rakshasudu was on. It didn’t materialise. After the film turned out to be a big success, I again started seriously thinking of taking it ahead. I wanted to finish it and then go to Raviteja with the current story titled Khiladi. In this process of approaching the stars and narrating my ideas, producer Koneru Saryanarayana of A Studios purchased the Hindi rights of Rakshasudu and wanted me to start that immediately. I also told the story of Khiladi to Raviteja meanwhile and got a green signal from him. I kept everything aside and began the pre-production.”
A lot of producers seem to have contacted you after the release of Rakshasudu for remake projects? Weren’t you wary of getting trapped in that mode? Between Rakshasudu and Karnan, I got an offer to do three big remakes. At that time I was still excited by the content of Rakshasudu. We didn’t have the rights to the Hindi version of Rakshasudu. Only after it became a hit, we purchased it. Producer Jayantilal even toyed with the idea of me directing Chatrapati and another film. He didn’t tell me who the hero would be then. All I told him was that Chatrapati is a huge film and I dont have the guts or intention to even think about it. Rakshasudu is a small film, and my forte is directing creative and cute small stories but not films of that volume and magnitude.”
Ramesh Verma had worked with Raviteja earlier, Veera was a disaster. How did he earn the confidence of the star, though it has been a long time. The director shares, “Veera was not my choice. It was a story meant for Balakrishna that was written in collaboration with writers Paruchuri Brothers. For a film with Raviteja, I was looking at another story. Probably something like the Hindi film Race. We got the rights but casting turned out to be a cumbersome process. I always like to present him as a stylish hero who generally chills and has fun and does the action stuff but not a man who does good for the village.”
Is Khiladi a remake? No, he says sternly. “The writer of our film told us that the content will coincide with that of a Tamil film. I discussed it with the producer of that particular Tamil film. Ours is a fresh story and except for the interval, where some part of an idea is similar, nothing else matches. Khiladi is a straight movie. Raviteja romances two heroines and yes, it is a stylish film. The girls exude a fresh look, one is glamorous and the other is a dusky beauty.” It is being said that Raviteja is playing a dual role. True? “I don’t even want to clarify if it is one, two or four roles. There won’t be an excitement if I talk about it and reveal if he is doing a singular or multiple roles, if it is negative or positive. Reporters are posing all kinds of questions but I guess you will have to wait. We did not change the script because Krack turned out to be a huge hit. Forty percent after the film finished, Krack released and became a big hit. That is an out and out mass film, there was no pressure on us,” he comments.
He adds, “Khiladi is a thrilling story and it goes without saying that all his films are unique. This will also be a big hit. Stars think twice to do positive and negative roles, Raviteja is one who can carry any role with aplomb. He has believed in the character right from the word go and had given his 200 percent to it. Khiladi is a player and the cinematographer is Sujeet Vasudevan. He had completed ninety percent of the film and by the time we reached a certain stage, he had run out of dates and had to return to Kerala owing to his prior commitment for another film. Even then he worked ten days extra and now the remaining part has been handled by Vishnu of Krack fame. This is a 100 percent theatre film.” Ramesh Verma states that last year we saw many films on the streaming platforms and the excitement is missing this year. Also the people are seeing it in parts every day and it is quite a task to get the entire family together to watch the movie peacefully. That isn’t the case when one watches it in a cinema hall. Devisri Prasad scored the music and all the five numbers are sure to be liked by the audience. The music director had previously worked for Raviteja’s Venky and Bhadra, so this too will be another fruitful association.”