HYDERABAD: Twenty-six-year-old P Srikanth, born in a Dalit family of farmers in Narayankhed, has spent most of his childhood participating in street plays and making people laugh with his accurate sense of comic timing.
While pursuing his Intermediate, he developed a keen interest in nature photography and went on the earn international acclaim too. However, his dream to make it big in the film industry brought him to Hyderabad where he studied Bachelors in Fine Arts and also became the youngest professional photographer, 19, to hold an exhibition.
Finally, in 2019, he bagged the best cinematography award during the Telangana Filmotsavam held at Ravindra Bharathi. Ever since, there has been no looking back for him. Srikanth found his way into the world of cinema — he played the second lead (Seenu) in Dorasani, a negative role (Suresh) in Mail and is now killing it as the lead in Hangman which will soon be released on an OTT platform.
Srikanth (fondly known as Sunny), Tharun Bhascker, the director of Pelli Choopulu; KVR Mahendra, the director of Dorasani; Gurrala Uday, the director of Mail; and many aspiring filmmakers and actors are the products of Paidi Jai Raj Preview Theatre. It was started in Ravindra Bharathi six years ago by the Languages and Culture Department. “Cinema is the most integrated art form in human creativity. Its definition has changed and thanks to OTT platforms, young filmmakers are exploring new ways. We want them to see the best of world cinema and create an alternative cinema,” M Harikrishna, the director of the department, says.
According to him, cinema should be educational, enlightening and enhance one’s knowledge. “We select international films and hold screenings every Sunday evening. Domestic short films are screened on Saturday evenings,” he says. This has created a platform for youngsters to not only explore cinema, but also elaborate, analyse, critique and appreciate the art. They also get to share their perspective, experiences and explore new opportunities during the interactive sessions which are held post every screening.
Today, the theatre not only previews films, but is also being used to conduct auditions — all for free. “Young filmmakers prefer screening their films here as opposed to Krishna Nagar where they would have to shell out thousands. Krishna Nagar used to be the go-to address for aspiring filmmakers and actors earlier,” Harikrishna says.
The department, which has also been organising film festivals, plans to showcase legendary director Satyajit Ray’s works for five days. The schedule will be out soon.