‘Veera Simha Reddy won’t have a single unnecessary scene’: Dialogue writer Sai Madhav
Dialogue writer Sai Madhav Burra discusses his work in the Balakrishna-starrer set to release this Sankranthi
Published: 05th January 2023 09:13 AM | Last Updated: 05th January 2023 09:13 AM | A+A A-
Dialogue writer Sai Madhav Burra is all excited about the arrival of Veera Simha Reddy, which marks his fourth collaboration with Nandamuri Balakrishna after Gauthamiputra Satakarni (2017), and the NTR duology (2019). The film is also his second collaboration with Gopichand Malineni after the successful potboiler, Krack (2021) and it joins the list of heavy-duty mass entertainers in his filmography such as Sardaar Gabbar Singh (2016), Khaidi No 150 (2017), Sakshyam (2018) and the biggest of them all, RRR (2022). Penning dialogues for these massive star vehicles is no easy feat, Sai Madhav says. “We should not let the pressure of a project’s scale deter our work. As a dialogue writer, I think one should effectively balance the requirements of the story and the star’s image. It’s not right to incorporate dialogues that just pander to the star’s image if they don’t serve the character and the story. I never write like that.”
Speaking about when his job as a dialogue writer in a project begins and how he collaborates with filmmakers, he says that it differs for each project. At times, he enters a project after the story has been entirely fleshed out, and, at times, he is present right from the nascent stages, contributing to the idea’s metamorphosis into a full script.
Which of these processes does he find more liberating? “Being a part of the journey right from the beginning allows us to contribute more with our inputs. When the story is in place, filmmakers might hesitate to accept our input because giving the story a shape and form must have been a task in the first place. They might have worked for months or even a year on it and when you point out an issue in it, they might not be willing to stretch the process further.” In the case of Veera Simha Reddy, he shares, “I was a part of it right from an ideation stage.”
Balakrishna is no stranger to mass-action entertainers. Some of the biggest hits of his career in the past two decades are in this genre—from films like Samarasimha Reddy (1999) to Narasimha Naidu (2001) and Simha (2010). So what is the factor that sets Veera Simha Reddy apart? “The story has an element you haven’t seen before. Of course, it is packed with stuff to entertain all sections of the audience, right from the young audience to families.
But at the core, it’s a new story with a unique point and my job, as a writer, was to capture its soul. I knew that the core point had to be spelt out well. Anybody would be inspired to do justice after listening to that point. An out-and-out commercial film rarely finds a story like this and I was very happy after listening to the story. Generally, commercial films stick to a template of four songs, ten punch dialogues and five fights. Veera Simha Reddy is not that. It has a wonderful emotion.”
The writer goes on to add that Balakrishna never interfered with dialogues in the form of corrections and suggestions. “A great quality about Balayya babu is that there might be numerous discussions before the story is locked, but once he okays the script and gives a go-ahead, he never interferes. Yes, if he has any doubts, he asks over the phone. That’s about it.”
When asked about the challenges involved in writing, Sai Madhav comes up with a light-hearted response. “Every film presents itself with a new set of challenges. I can’t say that I struggled the most with one specific film. One will struggle only when there is no content in the story or the scene. Yes, there have been such instances too but I shouldn’t reveal them,” he says, laughing. “Veera Simha Reddy is not one such film. It doesn’t have a single unnecessary scene. Even you will say the same after seeing it.”
Speaking about his collaboration and working process with director Gopichand Malineni, the writer says, “We tossed around inputs and shared ideas. It’s a collaborative effort. Creative discussions are quite normal. If such discussions don’t happen, it means the work is not being done properly. Discussions are quite healthy and I share a great rapport with him.” Adding that he is confident about the filmmaker reaching great heights in the future, Sai Madhav says, “Write it down, he will gain worldwide recognition one day, without a doubt. He has two great qualities a filmmaker must possess—to convince someone and be open enough to be convinced by someone.”
Even after spending 10 years as a writer, Sai Madhav has no immediate plans of giving film direction a shot. “Writers who have turned directors are those who entered the industry with aspirations to become filmmakers. I have always wanted to be a writer and that has been my target. I am now living the way I always wanted to. Someone like me will be propelled to become a director when they find that one story that they want to tell themselves. I am yet to find that story. The day that happens, I will try to direct it,” he signs off.