Nagarjuna’s ‘Ghost’ is one of the most anticipated movies in recent times. It is believed to bring back the memories of hero Nagarjuna is iconic films like ‘Shiva’ and ‘Antham’. “For me Nagarjuna means the one with silent intensity, action with swag. I was fascinated with the way he looked, standing tall in the face of danger. And, you will see this in ‘Ghost’,” shares Praveen Sattaru, who is directing Nagarjuna for the first time.
Action genre isn’t new for Praveen Sattaru. However, every film he does, he tries something new, and with ‘Ghost’ he is also directing Nagarjuna. There was excitement about how the film shaped up but also an element of tension; however, the response to the teaser put my fears to rest, he says, “That was an assurance that the audience is ready and looking for exciting content and we are here to deliver that. I have always been fascinated by action; it is my favourite genre. When you transform something on screen it exhilarates me. Action with swag is a deadly combination and Nag fits the bill.”
Praveen has always believed in not following any formula. He set his own route map while making a film. He even admitted to not working for any film before he made his first film. His films may have worked or not at the box office; but they have always made the right noises and were noticed. His ‘Chandamama Kathalu’ that brought him the National Award is one such example. And, then ‘Garuda Vega’ happened. People saw the movie and noticed a different Rajasekhar in an action thriller. They gave Praveen the much-needed success tag. Perhaps it is his penchant for action that has raised the expectations for ‘Ghost’ as well.
“Garuda Vega would never have been made if it was not for Jeevita garu and Rajasekhar garu. That kind of opened doors for me to think beyond certain limits, to push a few limits, and do think new and execute and make things happen,” he reveals.
While Praveen Sattaru does not follow rules, he surely has his own set of standards, which he ensures everyone follows. One such self-rule that he set for himself is to come to the sets with a bound script. “I am scared to write on the sets. I come with a script and I will not change even one scene. Also, I think its criminal to waste time writing on the set making 150 others wait for you at the cost of the producer’s money,” he shares. Perhaps it is his conviction that gives him the leverage, and actors fall in line and trust him.
“It’s always about convincing. Either they convince me or I convince them. For ‘Garuda Vega’, after the second day of shoot, Rajasekhar garu came to me and said – ‘I can see you are trying something new, I do not understand it, but I trust you.’ And, he submitted himself to me. It was a breeze to work with him. He would come and ask – ‘what do you want, and delivers. He had certain mannerisms that I had to cut out.
Nag just had to be himself. The way he stands, talks and looks, and when we took away 50 % of dialogues from the film, I got what I wanted. I just had to remind him of what he did in ‘Antham’ and ‘Rakshana’. I am inspired by those films, and when you look at Nagarjuna garu, his hairstyle and costumes, you will be reminded of the older films.”
He also explains how he wrote the story for Nagarjuna. “Producers wanted to make a film with Nagarjuna garu. We met and discussed the story line. He said ‘I am game for it’, and then I started writing. Right from the first frame, he had been my protagonist. It is a tailor-made story and character for him.
I had never met Nagarjuna garu before this film. I admired him as I grew up watching his films. When I come to the sets, my script and character take front stage. I want my character to follow the story line and actors become my character, and it becomes very organic. So, I don’t get carried away with my admiration towards him. When I have an image of Nagarjunagaru that I want to portray, or a certain body language that I have to bring out, I tell him.
He is amazing not just as an actor but an individual. He is very knowledgeable. He knows technology, science, medicine to international and local politics. He leads a very disciplined life and he enjoys his life. He is a charmer and you just get charmed by him.”
‘Ghost’ is a simple story of ex-interpol agent, who is skilled in various forms of combat and comes back for family. It is stylised action film. Will there be a sequel? Praveen Sattaru answers, “There is definitely potential for sequels and prequels also. For example, we released a video on Sword Tamaga. There is back story in how he got that. Someone from Far East, gifts him the sword. That
itself will lead to full length film. But it all depends on how the film does in box office.
With a completely novel approach to Tollywood cinema, unorthodox in execution and a conscious irreverence to trends – Praveen Sattaru can easily be termed as a rebel, but also one of the most- wanted rebel of a director today. What works for him?
“I am a very bad narrator. I would rather have the other person read my script. I don’t exaggerate – I only do normal narration, and I want them to see the highs with that. My exaggeration comes on screen. While I am shooting also, I never say fantastic. I would rather let it translate on screen with visual, background score and the mood – I will let the actor feel – wow I have done well. This approach has worked for me in parts. I am choosing my actors and producers, who understand the subtleties. If I can create a comfortable space to be in when you understand each other; especially actors – then half my job is done. I am the one getting into a new environment. I need to understand the actor, where he comes from. Senior actors have already been there. I am a newbie. I need to understand his language and say it in a way they understand. It’s all about breaking the ice. Once that done, then trust builds,” he explains his process of film making which thus far has worked for him.
“I don’t have set of rules, or formula. I just go with my conviction. If I believe in something, I put it out there, and those who believe in it will join me. That said, I have learnt a lot in this time I spent in the industry. Every day is a learning experience,” he sums up.