What separates Koratala Siva from the rest of Tollywood’s directors is that he ensures staying true to his story despite featuring top stars. In his short career as a director, Koratala has earned the reputation of working with the big Telugu stars—and striking gold.
His latest outing Janatha Garage, which features Mohanlal and NTR Jr, grossed over `50 crore in its opening weekend. “When I make films, I want the story to stand out. Loudness in films should be expressed through the story and not through dialogues,” says Koratala, whose films Mirchi with Prabhas (2013) and Srimanthudu with Mahesh Babu (2015) both were blockbusters.
If Srimanthudu saw Mahesh Babu adopting a village, Janatha Garage features NTR Jr as an environmental activist.
“I always wanted to make films with a message. There should be a noble idea attached to a script, no matter how commercial it is. A film may have a special dance number and high-octane fights, but it’s important that the audience goes back home feeling inspired,” he says.
Legendary Malayalam actor Mohanlal makes a return to Telugu cinema after more than two decades, and his performance has received immense praise. Koratala says he considers himself lucky to have been able to work with him. “It may be difficult to believe, but I had visualised Mohanlal while writing this film. While we weren’t too optimistic about bringing him on board, I was keen to at least approach him. To our surprise, as soon as we narrated the script to him, he agreed to the project,” he says.
When it comes to NTR Jr, Koratala was convinced that there was no other actor he was willing to work with on Janatha Garage. “This was a film I wanted to make many years ago, even before I started Srimanthudu. I needed an intense actor with a young look and NTR Jr was the best bet. He normally has the image of a loud, mass hero. But in this film, I wanted a more understated performance from him and he was fabulous,” says the 41-year-old.
Acknowledging how times are changing, the director laments that everyone has become obsessed with collections rather than good cinema. “The fans are getting involved in the numbers game. They call me and ask me about my film’s collections. Why should that be their concern? Shouldn’t they just enjoy the movie?” he ask.
The director also feels that the social media has changed the marketing of cinema and cannot be ignored. “For instance, even before we could finalise the release date, somebody leaked on Twitter that the film is hitting the screens on September 1. Before you know, there’s a hashtag trending and we couldn’t control it. We had no choice but to release the film on that date,” he adds. Janatha Garage also features Samantha Ruth Prabhu and Nithya Menen as female leads.