‘Only Love Can Destroy The Fences Between Us’ – Team Chai Bisket Chats With Krish Jagarlamudi!

“Stories. There are a lot of stories left to be told. A lot to be explored.”: This was one thing I carried home with me after meeting Krish, one of the most intelligent filmmakers in the industry today. The conversation we had went much deeper than just movies and appealed not just to the film buff, but also to the thinker in me. And I’m sure that’s the case with the entire Chai Bisket team.

We met him at his elegant residence in Filmnagar. Having been quite late, we were all apologies. But he brushed them off, with an “It’s okay.”. Such is his humbleness.

We sat down for a brief yet meaningful conversation, about movies, about stories… and about life.

Chai Bisket: Good Morning, Krish garu. It’s a pleasure to meet you! Can you tell us about the challenges you faced while making a period film like Kanche?

Detailing every aspect. Like we had to recreate a Pandla Kottu, one that was similar to ones during those times, for a ten second scene. We had to make sure that everything from the trenches and camps, to the soldiers’ mugs and the pen that Varun Tej uses was perfect and apt for the film’s setting. That is the challenge in making a period movie like this one. We brought around 700 guns that were used during WW2; various ones like Berettas and Anti-Tank Guns. We had to divide into various teams, with a few working here and a few in Georgia. And that’s how we pulled it off: with a lot of teamwork.

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CB: Where did you get the idea for Kanche?

When we were shooting for Vedam, we came across this bomb that was dropped during WW2. There is a huge chunk of History that happened in India, that is not covered much in books. It was here that I got the inspiration to make a movie with a WW2 backdrop. The idea of Kanche, a love story set in a time ravaged by war, was born then.

After the Second World War there has been a marked change in the world, and in the way it works. People have started getting back together, realising their folly. If we were to face a World War 3 today, we would go back to caves, drawing on rocks. That is why I want to tell a story of love. We do not want another war like that.

There are still a lot of stories to be told. A lot to be explored. Instead of telling the same story over and over again, I choose to tell a different story every time.

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CB: Gamyam, Vedam and KVJ, these films have the common theme of self realization running through them. What was the driving force behind it?

Have you seen Sagara Sangamam? Roja? Siva? These were films which made us care for the lead character. A hero isn’t just the clothes he dons and the various stunts he does; he is more than just that. A filmmaker should take the viewer on a journey to understand everything he goes through: joy, pain, anger…everything. Have you seen such a movie lately? Maybe Srimanthudu can be taken as a good example, and Bhale Bhale Magadivoy. But I want to go a step ahead and show a character unfolding on screen. That is why you remember a Gaali Seenu, a Cable Raju, a B. Tech Babu.

Dhupati Hari Babu is another such character that needs to be travelled with. There is this beautiful line that Sai Madhav Burra wrote for him. When one of the heroine’s relatives says, “Thakkuva kulam vadu“, he says “Kulam ante pani. Kamatha ni nammukunnodu Kammodu ayyadu, Kapu kaasetodu Kapu ayyadu. Kummarodi kunda, Chakalodi banda, Kamsali setha, Saalella netha…ye okkati thana kosam kadu, padi mandini brathikinchadam kosam. Meerevaru ante em pani chesthuntarani, anthe kani mee nethurenti ani kadu. Asalu ala adiginodu manishe kadu.” It’s not mine or Sai Madhav’s personality reflecting in the film. This is Dhupati Hari Babu’s personality. Kanche is his story.

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CB: How was it possible for you to come up with such deep themes, like for Gamyam, at a young age of 28?

Again I would say the same thing. Stories come searching for us, in our journey. When I was travelling with a lorry driver during my days as an aspiring filmmaker, we were in our own reveries. We ran out of mineral water, and he offered me boring water. I drank some and spat it out. Then he said, laughing, “Sir, bottle ke pani ke bina nai reh sakte aap, logon ko kya bolna chahre?”

It was then that I realised that I was looking everywhere, while I had so many answers beside me. It was from him that I got the inspiration for Gaali Seenu; and that idea later became Gamyam. We just have to look from a different perspective. Likewise Vedam was born out of an image we came across, of an old man with a child, in Guntur. That was the frame that influenced me, and that is the last frame on which I sign off in Vedam. Same with KVJ.

Life has many stories to tell… You just have to look beyond the obvious. I try to tell stories that haven’t been told before.

Kanche tells us that while love, bigotry, hatred and agony co-exist, it is love that eventually prevails over all. I just had to put that amidst a war setting and have action sequences, and make it as commercially viable as possible.

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CB: Do you think films influence people?

Definitely. I was influenced by a lot of films; 7/G Brindavan Colony made me want a girlfriend like that. When I went to watch Siva after bunking tutions, I came home with my cuffs rolled up. My father hit me then, entadi mundu teeyi ani. Cinema has a huge impact on the society. While nobody cares if a cigarette packet features horrific visuals, people didn’t dare to go to beaches when Jaws was released. Such is cinema’s power.

I always make sure of one thing. It’s okay even if I don’t show any good in my films, but I should not show any bad. Like if a few films show characters doing drugs, it wouldn’t take long to affect people. Because that is how the human psyche works. That’s my concern: someone who comes to watch my film should be offered a beautiful story unfolding on screen. They shouldn’t feel they just wasted their 150 rupees.

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CB: A period film, a Gita-related story, and a parallel narrative. These are dream projects for many, but you have made them all. Now what is your Dream Project?

I don’t know. Actually Singeetham Srinivasa Rao garu did everything. I’m very lucky he left the period drama genre for me! I should thank my producers. When I went to them with scripts, they always supported me. My family helped me a lot…they gave me the money to make my first film. And Arka Media is like family too now. I’ve had the support of my cousins during Vedam. I’m a very lucky child, I must say!

So my dream project? I can’t really say… Dreams come to me and I have to convert them into projects. Another thing of concern is that I have to hit the Box Office Bull’s Eye with Kanche, only then will I have the financial strength to do more subjects like these.

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CB: You’ve done meaningful movies in Telugu, but went the commercial way in Hindi with Gabbar Is Back. What’s the reason?

To make money. As simple as that. Intlo adey thindi, Hotel ki velli adey thindi ante ela andi?? Basically I was narrating a script to Mahesh back then, which was when I got this opportunity. Mahesh asked me to do it, as it would open up a new language, new avenues for me. Because of Gabbar is Back, I’m not a debutant in Hindi anymore. Like I said, I was lucky.

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CB: How was it like to experience a story set in WW2 from so close?

We have no hardcore violence in this film. I’m very much against showing a lot of blood and gore on screen. Instead we chose to focus on the emotions that the soldiers went through during WW2. There is this sequence in which Hari Babu has to rescue a group of Jews. During my research for this part, I came across this story about a German officer shooting little Jew kids thrown in the air by his soldiers, because there were no birds in the sky! Such was the cruelty among the Nazis… And though I didn’t include it in the film, such stories made my eyes well up.

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CB: This question is not to Krish the filmmaker, but to Krish the person… We always wondered what the rest of the world was doing during World War 2, when the holocaust was happening in Germany. But we are going through a similar phase right now With the problem of ISIS looming large and the Syrian refugee crisis affecting the world adversely. What do you think people should do right now?

Two things here. The same Germany which was the reason behind so many deaths during WW2 is opening its arms to Syrian refugees now. The have taken in the highest number of refugees in the whole of Europe. Because their previous generation had lost so much because of violence and hatred, the present one has chosen peace and love.

Sitarama Sastry garu wrote these wonderful lines for Kanche: Vidhvesam paalinche desam untunda? Vidhvamsam nirminche swargam untunda? Undunte adi manishidi ayyuntunda?

If such a country, if such a place exists…it would be ruled by demons, not humans. And as humans it’s our responsibility to slay these challenges. Every single day.

Manishi manishi ga jeevisthe, manishini manishi ga jeevinchanisthe…daniki minchina Vedam undadu. You need not go to battlefields and stop wars. Lead a good life, and let the people around you lead one. That’s all…and that’s it.

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And now it was time for CB’s special What If… Round!

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CB: Thank you so much for your time and your insightful opinions Sir!

Thank you! I wanted to meet your team actually, and it was my pleasure too! And this is something I haven’t asked anyone: can I have a photograph with you guys?

At this point we were overjoyed and posed for a quick group picture!

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We’re very grateful to Krish garu for putting up with our overenthusiastic questions, and hope Kanche will indeed go into history books!

If you wish to contribute, mail us at admin@chaibisket.com

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