Exclusive : The Making of a winner

Y.Sunita Chowdhary

“Pick up a camera. Shoot something. No matter how small, no matter how cheesy, no matter whether your friends and your sister star in it. Put your name on it as director. Now you’re a director. Everything after that you’re just negotiating your budget and your fee.” This quote by James Cameron pushed Harsha Pulipaka to achieve his dream when he was studying at Gitam University. He didn’t go to a film school and decided to make a film and learn everything in the process. His short film, one and a half years after the release, fetched around three and a half lakh views. Harsha says, ” I did a short film titled I Am Coming with Rang De Reels.. It took me a lot of time doing each of these short films but I continued thinking that it will be my stepping stone to films. Around 2012 onwards, the trend of making short films began and I thought I will do this instead of becoming an assistant director. My parents said I could go to a film school but that idea didn’t excite me. The fee was huge and I thought I would use that money to make more short films. My father would give me money every month and I would pool it and make a film. I learnt what not to do in that process.”

Harsha’s family is not from a film or a literary background. The writer hails from Kodad in Nalgonda district and has from childhood pursued story writing as an art form. He shares, “I was writing stories in childhood, I would write one page stories during class hours when the teacher was absent, in the last pages of my notebook and that was in the 6th and 7th standard. I was reading many books too. It is not about the language or words, it is about my perspective about how I put them into a sentence which will make the difference. I would participate in cultural events and was fascinated by cinema but began watching only when I was in the 8th and 9th standard. During intermediate I found myself increasingly drawn to reading books and writing stories. The maturity to understand and analyse the story came during the engineering days, especially about what happens behind the scenes. I was drawn to all kinds of cinema, even world cinema and got a lot of international exposure.” Ask him what aspect of film making intrigued him, he says, “By default I am a writer, not a director. I enjoy telling stories and creating characters. I was lured by visual media because I found it a medium to narrate. It was a format. “

When Harsha Pulipaka revisited cinema and analysed why certain kinds became popular such as those that came from directors like K Vishwanath, Ramgopal Verma, Maniratnam, he got his answers. He understood their craft and why they stood out from a huge list of directors we have in the Telugu film industry. He further says, “I began making a short film in my final year. The first one was a psychological thriller called Nenu Meeku Telusa. I pooled all my friends and did it in the year 2015-16. My family understood my seriousness and agreed that I should be choosing a career in making films. I did upgrade myself and meantime, Youtube became my university. There was so much content that I thought if I channelised the ideas constructively, I wouldn’t have to apply for admission in a film school. Many people told me to work as an assistant director. Honestly, I haven’t had the time at all since the past four years. I was either doing short films or waiting for it to go one step forward. I never found the necessity to study film in an academic style. I made a short film titled Climax with Chai Bisket in 2018. After the pandemic, it was released on Youtube and the duration was fifty minutes. Now about Panchatantram, I met producer Akhilesh and after discussing a couple of ideas, it started rolling. The idea was to make one film but not pool many stories. This is however about five senses culminating into an anthology.”

Harsha is just 24 years old and he is a promising talent. Panchatantram is about sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing he explains. “The incidents in our lives become memories. We take them from our five senses and these memorable life events each associated with one sense is the idea behind the story. The characters and the script demanded the artists we roped in be it Brahmanandam, Swati, Sivathmika, Samuthirakani, Divya Drishti, Vikas and Rahul Vijay. All of them are either youngsters or well known names. We are aiming at a theatre release. Cinematographer Raj K Nalli worked in Sebastian and Ranga Marthanda, Prashant Vihari is from Mental Madhilo fame. The film will be realistic in its approach and is very grounded when it comes to the characters. Of Course there were problems but we as a team surmounted them.”

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