An ad filmmaker, actor and now a director, Chakrapani Ananda has always been associated with films in some way or the other. Stepping on the road less travelled by, this director with a two-decade experience in ad films, has now taken up movie-making with a cause, not just for his creative satisfaction, but also to prove that this genre, unlike the usual mass or commercial entertainers, can also make money. He was the lead actor in a film called Daasi, which won five national awards in 1989. He won the award for best actor that year.
Film on fluorosis
Currently, he is working on a documentary on the impact of fluorosis on the people in Nalgonda. Titled “Waiting For Death”, the film will be submitted to the Children’s Film Society, India after its completion. “I have already shot for 8 days, there is two more days of shooting to wrap it up. Prior to the start of the project, we conducted a survey and then realised that this issue had to be highlighted. So many kids are affected and many have lost their lives. All of us, who live in the city get water from Krishna that passes through many villages, and the people living in these villages do not get hygienic water,” he explains.
His latest flick “Oobi - The Mire” is a similar project. “We have sent the movie to over 40 Oscar qualifying film festivals across the world, including Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, Clermont-Ferrand and more. If the movie wins in any of these festivals, it will get nominated for Oscars next year,” he informs. As great as the idea sounds, the process was not anywhere near easy. “Though the script was ready one and a half years ago, I did not get any producer as no one saw any commercial viability in the film. I had to struggle a lot to get the story across to people. Finally, Naresh Varma agreed to produce this film and soon, we were on our feet,” recalls Chakrapani.
The plot revolves around the life of a byragi (beggar) whose life is ruined because of his lust for money. “I had two actors in mind. Telugu actor Surya and the other was Makaran Deshpande. The protagonist, who is in his own world, has no family or desires. But, one day when he finds a whole bag of money by the temple, his life changes and ends in ruins, which is compared to a mire.” Shot at Pushpagiri, 15 kms from Kadapa district, the movie is his first full length feature film. One more surprising aspect of the film is that he trained a 13-year-old mentally challenged kid Venkat to act.
“I saw him at a tea stall near my house and this was when I was scripting the film, I thought nobody can do justice to the character in the movie better than him. He brought life to the role. We trained him for about 10 days and his performance was brilliant. I am very happy with him.”
A pertinent question
Born and brought up in Nalgonda, Chakrapani moved to Hyderabad 35 years ago. He started his career through advertising from 1985. He has desiged commericals for Relaxwell Mattresses, Coromandel Paints, Papyrus Port resort, GHMC, Tribal welfare, AP State AIDS Control Society and more. He has directed documentaries for the Social and Welfare Department and a few other government organisations.
Focusing more on the artistic aspect of cinema, the director makes films for competing not just at the national level, but also at the international level. His documentaries, short films and feature films have always been created only for participation in the various international film festivals across the globe. His documentary “Festival of Faith”, which is based on Medaram Jatara, Asia’s biggest tribal festival, celebrated biennially at a small hamlet called Medaram in Warangal received an honourable mention at the 2011 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in France. This documentary was also appreciated at many other film festivals for its portrayal of Indian cullture.
He believes that Telugu cinema needs to evolve. “Why can’t Telugu films go international? Why should one invest crores into a movie that is only meant for entertainment? Why can’t one just invest `10 lakh and make a movie with social responsibility? I want to change the notion that these movies can't make money. Why are you in a creative field, if money matters to you the most?” he questions.
Listing his favourite films, he says Aakasamantha and Oh My God in Hindi are sensible scripts. “If a book can bring in a change in people’s mindset, so can films. You just need to identify which ones,” he opines. He is now working on a script called “Antaram”, which aims to highlight how economic disparity is affecting kids today.