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Film industry not a place to make money: Praveen Sattaru (Interview)

IANS  |  Chennai 

Filmmaker Praveen Sattaru, currently awaiting the release of Telugu anthology film "Chandamama Kathalu", left high-paying job in the US and returned to to chase his filmmaking dream. He says that the film industry is not a place to get rich because most people face losses in this business.

In 2011, he made his Telugu directorial debut with "Life Before Wedding" (LBW). A year later, he made Telugu romantic-drama "Routine Love Story". Both the films failed to rake in the moolah.

"It's a myth that people get rich in film industry, because it's not a place to make money. Ninety-nine percent of people lose money in cinema. Who says it's easy to make money here? I want to ask them what the success mantra is?" Praveen told IANS.

"I was making more money in the US than I have been in the last four years. I'm not here to make money and if I wanted to make money, I wouldn't have returned to India," he said.

What did he learn from his failures?

"I have realised if you're making a simple love story, people would come and watch it only if there's a star in it. This was my biggest learning," he said.

Praveen's third directorial "Chandamama Kathalu", due for an April 25 release, is touted to be Telugu cinema's first anthology film.

He wants to give audience a "captivating experience" through the film.

"My debut film was semi-anthology and it was received well. Based on the response to that film, I decided to make 'Chandamama Kathalu'. I wanted to give the audience a higher experience than my previous films," he said.

"I wanted to captivate the audience the way recent films 'Pizza' and 'Journey' managed to do. These films were small but they had something even the big films couldn't offer. I realised these films had a kick factor that appealed to everybody," he added.

"Chandamama Kathalu", which features eight stories, has an ensemble cast. Naresh, Aamani, Lakshmi Manchu, Krishnudu, Chaitanya Krishna and Richa Panai among others feature in it.

Praveen says the biggest challenge was the screenplay.

"There are eight stories in the film. By the time you finish all the stories, and come back to the first one, the audience should not forget what had happened. Therefore, screenplay was extremely difficult," said Sattaru.

Another challenge was "finalising the cast".

"When you're making a hero and heroine based film, you have to cast actors because you know they'll be there for the full length of the film. But when you're making a film with eight stories, screen presence for actors is limited and, therefore, many were not interested," he said.

"Those who have worked in the film trusted the project because they realised that the length of the character was not a concern," he added.

Telugu filmdom has never experienced an anthology film and Praveen admits that it's a "big risk", but it's "the only way I can make my presence felt".

"With so many filmmakers and actors, it's chaotic outside. In that chaos, how do you make your presence felt? By coming up with something so unique that when it clicks, it becomes my biggest reward," he said.

Praveen, who has produced all his films so far, says taking a film to cinemas is "challenging" but he doesn't blame anyone for that.

"It's wrong to blame industry bigwigs for lack of theatres because they don't control them. At the end of the day, a theatre owner should have reasons to release your film. Let's not forget that each week so many films are releasing, so what different does your film has to offer?"

"If you promote your film smartly and make everybody realise the one differentiating factor your film possesses, then you will find screens," said Praveen.

First Published: Wed, April 16 2014. 15:32 IST