'Emi Sethura Linga', a slice-of-life romantic coming-of-age drama, has been streaming on Aha Video since May 19. Starring Vinod Varma in the role of a corporate employee named Bhanu Prakash and Gnaneswari Kandregula as a free-spirited woman named Swecha, the web film is directed by debutant K Sandeep. The new director in the town has been lauded for giving a realistic and organic treatment.
The film is produced by Sandeep and Murali Krishna. Abhiraj Nair and Jen Martin are its cinematographer and music director, respectively. Resul Pookutty, the Academy Award winner, has done the sound design.
Excerpts from an interview:
Tell us about your background and you started out.
Somehow, right from childhood, I have been passionate about cinema. It was more than interest. I had to do my Engineering and Masters in Remote Sensing and GIS for the sake of possessing an academic qualification. My eventual aim was to get into the film industry. I made a short film while in Thailand and that was my only experience directing something prior to making 'Emi Sethura Linga.
Knowing what to do and not to do has been my biggest learning. The filmmaking journey was very tough. If you have enough resources, you can shoot a film without much struggle. But getting a release and marketing it is the hardest job. Even harder is taking your film to the audience, in the sense of letting them know that you have made so-and-so film
The male protagonist is an aspiring actor in the movie. How relatable is the character to the average audience?
Those who want to do an unconventional job or dream job and not a regular job will find the character relatable more than others. I find my male lead a little boring and shy. And, of course, he is confused. At times, he can be irritating. But he is like that because of his circumstances and the situations he finds himself in. Those who want to break free from their shackles will relate to him. Those who want to chase their dreams will connect well with him.
How have you treated the romance in the movie?
The romance in this film is not physical. The lead pair's intimacy is different. It's more in the form of dialogue and non-verbal in nature. The characters grow on each other. They engage each other. They see companionship in each other as they evolve.
How did you approach the Academy Award winner Resul Pookutty?
I approached Resul sir on Facebook. I pitched the film by introducing myself as an indie filmmaker. I told him the nuances of sound are crucial to the story-telling in my film. I am extremely glad that he worked on our movie. It was really great working with such a great talent. His suggestions and support were of great help. The inputs were outstanding. I think I will be able to implement those lessons in the future.
Was it easy to ensure an OTT release?
The project was completed in 2021 December. The OTT deal didn't happen easily. Since then, we started pitching the movie to different OTT platforms. Since I am a newbie and even the other producer is a newbie, it was not easy to figure out how to go about it. Nobody was willing to take up the project. In the end, Aha liked our movie. We are grateful to the platform.
Do you call your movie commercial or content-driven?
This is not a commercial movie. Neither is it a completely content-driven movie. It falls somewhere between commercial and artistic beats. The narration is a bit slow-paced for the Telugu audience. But then, that's the style that is best suited for the story. There might be a better way but I could only conceive it in a certain way. As a debutant, I wanted the movie to be as realistic as possible.
What are your immediate plans?
Right now, I am toying with 2-3 interesting scripts. I am ready to pitch them to a proper lead actor. It's the actors who are the face of any movie. It's going to be an upgrade from my first movie.