Not just for fans, ‘Waltair Veerayya’ is for regular audiences too, says director Bobby

K.S Ravindra, mostly known by the name Bobby in film circles, couldn’t feel more ecstatic than realising his long-pending wish to direct Megastar Chiranjeevi on the big screen. Treading an uncertain career path of film industry, Bobby narrates his journey from a fanboy moment to directing stars in Tollywood and how ‘Waltair Veerayya’ came into being and more..

Are you nervous about releasing your film amidst high expectations this Sankranthi?
I would have felt slightly nervous if I had worked with different producers. Since the makers are the same for both the movies’ Waltair Veerayya’ and ‘Veera Simha Reddy’, everyone is positive about the outcome.

Every subject has a backstory, could you please throw some light on the actual story that stimulated you to write the script ‘Waltair Veerayya’?
Like every subject has a backstory, there’s one to my journey too. I began my career way back in 2003, I remember my fanboy moment with Megastar Chiranjeevi. Since then it remained a dream to work with Chiranjeevi garu. Now I realised my dream of making a movie with Chiru sir in 2023. This is one of the greatest moments that I cherish throughout my career.

How was your experience working with two self-made stars of Telugu cinema?
Like the way how both had charted their journey into Tollywood with all their hard work and passion, I too made my own way through without any external support. In a way, I feel lucky to work with these two big Telugu stars. On the same note, we designed both characters of Ravi Teja garu and Chiru sir with utmost care thinking as to what these mass audiences really need.

Chiranjeevi’s last two outings haven’t reached the expectations at the box office, so was there any pressure on your shoulders to deliver a hit this time around?
Not at all. The Megastar has acted in over 150 films. He must have seen the in and out of the Tollywood industry. So much success at the box office. At the same time, he might have seen some disasters too. He is an actor of great stature. I think there’s no one who can take triumph and defeat in equal measure in Tollywood. He is a balanced, poised and self-contained personality. Even actor Ravi Teja does the same as Megastar. Both have this trait of giving heart and soul to the product they believe in.

You mentioned in a speech that your team gave effort the way Chiranjeev fans do. And you have promoted that ‘Waltair Veerayya mainly caters to Chiru fans, do you think regular audiences are pushed to the backseat if the tag “fans-centric films” comes into the foreground?

I started the film as a fanboy and narrated the story to Chiru sir before the lockdown. He instantly okayed the story. The script was not written keeping fans in view, it is also for regular audiences. We know that film lovers have tasted all kinds of genres on OTT platforms. So we’re equipped to face such comments from that section of audiences. That’s the reason why Ravi Teja garu’s character was incorporated in the story. The care is taken such that the story has more importance, assuring entertainment till the last frame.

It is rumoured that the film is a story of two stepbrothers, can you give a gist of it?
Since the movie is not released, I’m not supposed to disclose anything. But I can promise you all fun and entertainment in every frame. You name any sequence! There are beautiful emotional scenes. It is going to be a huge film this Sankranthi.

What inspired you to give the title ‘Waltair Veerayya’?
Just after wrapping up ‘Venky Mama’ climax scene with Nazar. Yaganti temple Nandi statue
One friend from NRI to meet Nazar, gave me a book that was written by him. The story happened to have taken place in South Africa during pre-Independence times. I thought about how it would be to incorporate the character into the film. So when I approached Chiru garu with three versions, he liked the story. Before the title announcements, one megastar fan shared a short footage where the Megastar is seen explaining how his father’s friend named Veerayya (a police constable himself) helped him in a photoshoot which landed him in Madras to try his luck in films. I felt the name was very nostalgic.

Is ‘Waltair Veerayya’ a multistarrer flick or does Ravi Teja have a cameo in it?
You have to wait and watch. I can’t say whether he is a cameo or he has a long and lengthy character. I can say there is no ‘Waltair Veerayya’ without the presence of Ravi Teja.

You worked with Gopichand Malineni garu as a writer, and now you both lock horns at the box office albeit in one single film production house. What do you have to say about him?
Gopi garu and I have travelled for very long years, me as a writer and he as a director. He is very professional as a filmmaker and we share a warm bonding. He is like a brother, I wish he scores a hit with ‘Veera Simha Reddy’.

You turned emotional on the stage recently, have fan wars between Chiru and Balayya miffed you anytime?
I started my journey as a filmmaker first with actor Ravi Teja garu and I later worked with Pawan Kalyan garu for ‘Sardar Gabbar Singh’. Irrespective of the result, Jr NTR garu offered me a chance to direct ‘Jai Lava Kusa’. Having tasted a massive hit with ‘Janatha Garage’, it is his greatness to offer a chance like me. ‘Jai Lava Kusa’ has really earned me respect as a star director. Fans keep asking as to when I’m coming up with a character Raavan in the future. ‘Jai Lava Kusa’ gave me the stardom that I never dreamt of.

Quite often you have been posting plenty of reels on Instagram, do you have any hidden plans in future?
No plans as such, Devi Sri Prasad had forced me to do the reels. I kept pleading with him not to post. But one fine time, when I switched off my phone during air travel, by then he released all the videos that were shot.

Waltair Veerayya’ brings back the Megastar’s iconic looks from his box office hits ‘Muta Mestri’ and ‘Gangleader’. Was this a conscious decision to bring back the look from his old movies?
‘Waltair Veerayya’ character has the liberty to design such looks. He can wear a lungi, puffing beedi. He could come with swag as he did in ‘Rowdy Alludu’ or he could wage a war by holding weapons in ‘Gangleader’. But we never tried to forcibly smear the looks on the characters.

As a writer, you might agree to accommodate a few sequences but as a director, you might also wish to forgo the same scenes. How do you balance the conflict between writer and director?
I would majorly spend a good time writing the script. Because I came as a writer first, I would step into the shoes of a director only if I am satisfied as a writer. Once I feel okay with what I have written, I would go with the making process.

Can you tell me the origin of “Poonakalu loading”, and whose idea it was?
We were searching for a catchy hashtag before the first look poster was actually out. There should be a catchy phrase that makes noise on social media and catches the attention of youth. We wanted to try something new, it should be catchy yet grab the attention of masses. “Poonakalu loading” was the right phrase, we felt and we went with it.

The industry is catching on to the trend of dishing out sequels, at any given point in time, do you have any plans to bring out a sequel to ‘Waltair Veerayya’ following the result at the box office?
As of now, I’ve no plans. Maybe I might think about it after the film gets released. How the audiences receive the film, and the seriousness of the characters shall be taken into consideration. I keep hearing from fans that Raavan’s character from ‘Jai Lava Kusa’ should make a comeback. Similarly, it depends on how people own the character ‘Waltair Veerayya’.

Is the climax of Waltair Veerayya open for a sequel?
Yes, it is open for a new story.

Can you please talk about ‘Waltair Veerayya’ being released in the Hindi language?
Both Megastar Chiranjeevi garu and Ravi Teja garu have huge markets in Hindi. Take the examples of Ravi Teja’s ‘Vikramarkudu’ or Chiru’s ‘Aaj Ka Goonda Raaj’ the numbers in OTT platform are mind-boggling. Both are favourite stars for audiences in north India. So the film is scheduled for parallel release in Hindi.

What you have to say on pan-India trend?
Pan-India is an extraordinary platform gifted by our filmmaker SS Rajamouli. I too want to test the waters if I find any story that is pleasing the taste buds of pan-India audience.

Do you think you did justice to both the characters looking with fans’ perspective? 

The advantage that I have for ‘Waltair Veerayya’ is that fans of Ravi Teja and Chiranjeevi are all one. Both of them are not opponents on and off the screen. Chiru sir is proud of Ravi Teja who earned a name for himself by beginning his career from the scratch. We’ve seen ‘Dhamaka’ shattering records as it collected Rs 100 crore at the box office. So we believe that fans shower love on Chiranjeevi and Ravi Teja equally.

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