A vision scientist turned director Sailesh’s ‘Hit’ franchise produced by hero Nani’s Wall Poster Cinema has been true to its title from the word go. Hit – The first Case starring Vishwak Sen began to garner profits from the first week onwards when it released in February 2020. The second film in the series with Adivi Sesh in the lead went the success route and it also revealed the next big hero in the franchise. The third film will see ‘Sarkar’ – the much-awaited next big Investigative Officer in ‘Hit 3’ marking the much-awaited entry into the series.

As the franchise is growing from strength-to-strength Sailesh Kolanu is all set to put more and more of his energy into writing and creating more Hits. He shares his journey so far in this exclusive interview.

What is the connection of a scientist with the film industry?
I have always been a film buff. Whether a film is good or bad, I watch all films. My father was from the industry, He was the production manager. He used to work with Raghava gari and Kodi Ramakrishna garu. But he did not want me here. I was born and raised in Chennai; I lived in Hyderabad before shifting to Australia. I excelled in academics. But, my love for films dragged me back to Hyderabad. This was the calling. I am cut out to be a film maker. I am getting to create great pieces of art. There are stories that need to be told, and I am very happy that I am tool.

You were a scientist before coming into the film industry. Why this shift?
I was a Vision Scientist. I did my PhD from University of New South Wales. I was teaching Undergrad students. Story telling has always been my passion. I used to write a lot. For 7 – 8 years I was only writing to learn the craft better. I had many good stories with me, but this one story made a lot of sense. And, I couldn’t shelve it. I wrote the script with Nani in my mind, and I thought I must tell him the story. I began to make trips to India from Sydney just to make that appointment to happen. My journey to film industry is different from those who are from here. I used to blow up all my savings to come to India just for a chance to meet Nani. To travel 10000 km every time, I had to sacrifice a lot.

So, when did you finally meet him?
A common friend let him know about me, and he was intrigued to see the man ready to leave behind a seven-figure salary to make a film and was making so many trips from Australia. He gave me five minutes, followed by one hour of narrating the story. My original intention was to give the story and go away. But when I started narrating the story, he liked my narration skills and suggested I must direct the film. He said I can use my articulation to explain to the technicians and the rest is common sense. I spent the next one and half year to learnt the craft, took short courses, seminars, workshops, and made short films before coming back to direct the first film from the ‘Hit’ franchise.

How much time did you take to put together the seven-part franchise?
The stories are all based on real life events. So, there was research involved. It took me 2 – 3 years to figure out how I will be connecting the stories. That said I have not written the stories in detail. I just know what it is going to be – it evidently keeps getting better with each film, and when an actor comes on board, you, tailor-make it for him.

For Hit – The First Case why did you take Vishwak for lead, and not Nani?
Nani started this amazing production house looking for new talent and my story was the right fit for the kind of talent they were promoting. This is a niche concept and needed a producer invested in the idea. The plan was to start with a young and good actor and slowly make it larger. That is the graph we had set. Nani will be acting in the third film. He wanted to play the role of a cop for a long time. But he wanted the character to be different from the usual. And, he liked the characterisation of Sarkar.

The first movie in the Hit franchise was a big hit. With increased expectations on the second film– how did you arrive at the story?
I had blue print for the whole universe with me. I conceived this as a seven-part series and have had an idea about how to put together the characters and take it forward. The stories are based on real-life incidents that happened in different places, and I had thoroughly studied these cases. However, after the first film became a hit, I wanted to increase the scale, bring more emotional layers and build the story to make it bigger. Which is what Hit 2 is all about. We have also introduced fear element adding to the thrill.

With two films of the franchise becoming hits, and so much invested in the third one – how do you feel?
Nani’s trust in me is impeccable. And this is a good thing, but also the biggest responsibility. It does frighten me, but it is in a good way, and makes me work harder. I consider myself to be his prodigy as I made a late entry into the industry with no prior experience. He agreeing to do a role in the film is a great moment for me. I will be taking time to write the story carefully. The third film in the franchise will evidently be bigger, with more characters and multiple protagonists. There will be more layers to the story. The mood of the franchise will be intact but the scale will be bigger. With more actors on board – logistically also – it is going to take time to put it together.

There is so much content in the thriller genre. What does it take to make a film unique and successful in box office?
Thrillers are many but the good ones are just a few. The idea has to be unique in terms of the crime, the protagonists, the skeleton needs to be novel. If you keep yourself updated with what kind of content people are liking then it will work.

If you look at the DNA of story-telling, there are only as many stories and permutations, and combinations to stories. It’s all about old wine in a new bottle. It could be just the way you shoot – there are so many things you do to make the film fresh and unique.

For HIT 2 what we have done is take the genre to wider segment of audience, so we had more elements, commentary on social issues and many emotional threads. It is also the detailing we give to keep the audience engaged that has worked.