He is a director with the heart of an actor. He is clear about the kind of films he would like to make. Experimenting with genres is his philosophy, treading unexplored territories is his goal and entertaining the audience is his responsibility. Director Anil Ravipudi is determined to take cinema forward by telling riveting tales and asserts that success has pushed him to work harder. “I work with a great sense of responsibility and always try to give my best. As long as my films entertain the audience, I will continue directing mainstream cinema loaded with masala and comedy,” says Anil Ravipudi, who awaits the release of his much-awaited sequel F3 on May 27.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Did you find it tough to recreate the same characters?
The film doesn’t pick from where the previous one has left. The story, situations, and the approach are new and the canvas just got bigger. The script, too, demanded additional characters and it was quite difficult to get all these things in place.
How different is F3 from F2?
F2 explored the conflict between the wife and husband relationship. Whereas F3 is all about money and it tells the story of the people who believe money is important and it is everything in their lives. It’s the story of every middle-class family, who gets caught up in the race to make more money. Money makes the world go around. In fact, money helps businesses build everything around us and it is the people who earn money make things around us. If we have enough money our lives will be happier, else you feel frustrated. I have tried to showcase how money is not important beyond our basic needs. I have got enough scope to weave my story around money, and I have found a perfect stage to narrate it. I think I have succeeded in playing to the galleries all over again.
F2 was inspired by real-life content. What’s the inspiration for F3?
The film focuses on different struggles and aspects involving money. The film draws you in, mirroring some aspect of your life. Like F2, I tried to keep the treatment real and relatable.
The trailer of F3 shows that Venkatesh’s character goes through night blindness and Varun Tej plays a youngster, who stutters to convey his emotions. Why have you chosen disability to represent these characters?
First of all, the film is not about disability and it doesn’t paint the story or these characters in a negative light. Disability is a part of my protagonists’ life and if you watch my earlier film Raja The Great (2017), you will understand my intention. I have tried to bring out two characters, who suffer from a certain disability and how they live in a fear of being discovered. They make every possible attempt to keep their condition a secret in a humorous manner. I am sure, the narration will leave the audience in splits.
You must have had a lot of pressure when you announced a sequel. Were you at all affected by the shadow of the predecessor while creating the tribe of F3?
There was no pressure, but I felt a sense of responsibility to live up to the expectations. I always aim to make a better film than my last one. My only understanding was not to repeat the mistakes, if any, in the predecessor. Our team has worked with double the excitement and enthusiasm that you will feel F3 is better than the predecessor in more ways than one.
How different is the writing process for a sequel?
Whether it’s F2, F3, or any other film, I work with the same enthusiasm. There is nothing new to the way things are dealt with in the second installment, except the addition of a few characters played by Ali garu, Sunil and Murli Sharma garu. All these characters will have a reasonable screen time and arrive with a purpose. The film boasts of a dreamy star cast and if you watch it, you will understand how difficult it is to blend all these characters into the narrative.
One of the reasons F2 worked was because of its comedy. Is it safe to say that comedy is your strength?
Yes. The success of F2 brought me a name as a commercial director, who narrates his stories cloaked in comedy. I have no qualms to accept comedy as my strength and I prefer not to repeat my stories.
Producer Dil Raju has decided against rising ticket prices and is opting for standard ticket prices for F3.
The Telugu governments have permitted us to increase the ticket prices, cutting across all classes of theatres or multiplexes, for a certain period. Despite being a big-budget film, we have decided to not avail this option just to make our movie available for all kinds of audiences.
Can we expect a sequel to F3?
Definitely, provided F3 becomes a big success at the box office. My idea is to make it into a fun franchise and a laughing club in Telugu.
What explains your interest in comedy entertainers?
There is a vacuum in the comedy genre right now. We are getting to see all kinds of cinema, but we are missing the kind of films directed by the late Jandhyala, EVV Satyanarayana, etc. We celebrated the films of these legends and still watch them at our leisure.
I am no match to these stalwarts, but I want to explore this unexplored territory and want to revive interest and pull people to the theatres with my films. My intention is to not miss my mark and try to create wonders in the future.
Where do you look for your stories?
Everywhere (laughs). Be it a film or a story around me, I try to explore the back story behind it. I must admit that all my films come from my observations or the image my heroes have.
Do you write scripts for heroes or pick heroes for your scripts?
I feel the scripts are always the heroes. For F2, I have readied a storyline and when Venky sir came on board, I tweaked it to suit his image. The idea is to avoid existing cliches and stereotypes to present my protagonist in a different way. If you look back, it’s been over two decades that we got to see Venky sir doing a wholesome entertainer like Intlo Illalu Vantintlo Priyuralu/Abbaigaru/Malliswari. My wish is to bring back vintage Venky without missing my signature elements. That’s why, I say, my new film will always depend on my last release.
Your directorial journey is what the film industry would describe as a dream run. Do you think you have achieved all your dreams with respect to the style of filmmaking?
I always feel like a newcomer and work with a passion to deliver a blockbuster each time. I always strive to achieve something with every film.
Cinema is now enjoying newer platforms. How do you look at these avenues?
The audience has been choosy and they come to theatres only if they like the content. The trailers are integral to a film’s opening and the production team must work hard to keep the expectations alive. I believe the theatre and OTT will co-exist and I can confidently say that the demand for the theatrical experience is intact! Nevertheless, I will always follow the pulse of the audience and see how the trade reacts to our films.
What’s next after F3?
I am directing (Nandamuri)Balakrishna garu in an action entertainer. We are planning to commence principal photography in September.
What’s your dream project?
Given an opportunity, I want to direct an epic-fantasy entertainer like Mayabazar (1957) in the future.
Any plans to try your hand at acting?
Not immediately, but, maybe, after 10 years or so. Even then, I will try my luck as a character artist only if the script demands me to act. Right now, my focus is only to direct films.