Chiranjeevi sir accurately predicts the result of a film: Filmmaker Bobby Kolli

Filmmaker Bobby Kolli opens up about the experiences of making his highly awaited Sankranthi release, Waltair Veerayya, starring his idol, Chiranjeevi

Published: 10th January 2023 08:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th January 2023 08:31 AM   |  A+A-

Tollywood actor Chiranjeevi

Tollywood actor Chiranjeevi (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

Bobby Kolli came to Hyderabad in 2003 to assist Chinni Krishna, who had written Chiranjeevi’s blockbuster, Indra. Around the same time, he denoted blood to Chiranjeevi’s blood bank and got the opportunity to click a picture with his matinee idol outside the office of Geetha Arts.

Bobby wanted another picture and stood in line to get a picture clicked again. Chiranjeevi understood this when his turn came up and angrily held Bobby’s hand, ordering him to look at the camera quickly. To Bobby’s amusement, he lost the first picture in which Chiranjeevi posed with a gentle smile but managed to retain the picture in which the actor looks dead serious as a result of the then-young Bobby’s silly act. 20 years later, when Bobby shared this anecdote at the press meet of Waltair Veerayya, the star embraced him and asked the photographers to click pictures.

Bobby has directed his idol and the star who made him a director, Ravi Teja, in Waltair Veerayya. His life has come full circle. “Every film has a backstory but my backstory of Waltair Veerayya goes back 20 years. It is an unforgettable moment in my life,” he smiles, as we sit down to chat in the office of Mythri Movie Makers, a week before the film’s release.

The USP of Waltair Veerayya, right from its announcement, has been the return of the massy Chiranjeevi that the fans have been missing for a couple of years now. And Bobby, a self-confessed fan of the star, has been making it clear that it is a tribute to the Chiranjeevi that he saw growing up in entertainers like Gang Leader, Gharana Alludu and Muta Mestri. But this also runs the risk of alienating regular movie-goers who are not hard-core fans of the star.

Speaking about finding the balance between elements that fans expect in the film versus what a regular viewer needs, Bobby shares, “I narrated the film as a fanboy and got sir’s approval. Then, the lockdown happened and I saw all my friends and colleagues working on new scripts. OTT has changed the game all over and even autowala and rikshawala are exposed to international content like Money Heist. So we were cautious about the comments that might come our way if we deliver a run-off-the-mill film. In fact, Ravi Teja’s character in the film was born out of this need. Once his character enters, the fanboy in me takes a backseat and an objective filmmaker takes charge to give importance to the story. I strongly believe our film has all the qualities to attract both multiplex audience as well as the B & C centers.”

There have been numerous speculations about the character of Ravi Teja ever since he was cast in the project. While the filmmaker is careful about not divulging much about the character, he says, “I won’t say it’s a cameo. You have to see it and find it yourself. But I can say one thing: without Ravi Teja, there’s no Waltair Veerayya.”

While talking about the film, Chiranjeevi earlier said that Waltair Veerayya is his funniest role since Shankar Dada MBBS (2004) and it is a prospect to be excited about because the actor’s comic timing is brilliant. Speaking about exploring Chiranjeevi’s comic side, which has been dormant post Khaidi No 150, the filmmaker says, “He is a master in comedy and even if you give him slightly funny material, he will exalt it brilliantly. For filmmakers, I think it is a great advantage when we work with actors who are great at comedy because it inspires us to write more for them. In that sense, as someone who grew up loving his comedy, I think we all absorbed that energy from him.”

How excited or nervous he is about the film? “Let me share something interesting. When (Chiranjeevi) sir told me that he wanted to watch the film, I couldn’t sleep for two nights due to nervousness. During my journey with the sir in the past two years, he would give a hint about the result of his films three months before release, and trust me, it would fare exactly the way he predicted months before the release. So naturally, when a person with such a legacy and understanding of cinema was set to watch the finished film (without seeing a single frame post-editing), fear is warranted,” Bobby says. So what did Chiranjeevi say after watching the film? “He told me that it would be a blockbuster. That’s the day I felt the proudest.”

At times when the audience’s behaviour has been hard to predict, with the most popular argument being that there has been swift evolution in their taste of cinema they consume (the success of recent masala-laden entertainer Dhamaka makes for a strong counter-argument), how does Bobby, who made a career out of making masala entertainers, read the situation? “I believe we should entertainingly tell a story, without giving the viewer the space to reach out to his mobile, regardless of the genre. The viewer lending us his/her two hours is a boon and we have to respect it and do justice to their time by providing entertainment,” he signs off.


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