‘Ouija’. Not so known concept for Indian cinema audience. It’s a communication board that lets you interact with supernatural powers and spirits. We see these now and then in Hollywood films and other international films. A story that revolves around that spooky board is the recent sensational hit of Kannada, ‘Ouija’.
It proved wrong a lot of regular film equations. Without a lot of stars in the cast, a concept-centric film made it big in regional cinema. Bagged a lot of applaud lately, the film’s director Raajkumar Reddy got nominated for prestigious SIIMA awards as ‘Best Debut Director’. Movie Mint had a small talk with him..
How does it feel to get nominated for SIIMA that too for you debut project?
It obviously feels good when our work is being noticed. I made a movie on a concept that attracted me. I didn’t make it for awards. It’s a whole team’s hard work and I am glad it got nominated for a prestigious Award.
You are a Telugu. Then why did you choose Kannada to make your debut?
Telugu is my mother tongue but my home town (Madanapalli) is very close to Karnataka. Bangalore is the place we always used go to if we need anything. So, Kannada is never another language to me. For me, it is as home as here.
Why a horror for first film?
Well, I personally love that Genre. And I met a producer who enjoys horror like me, and in fact more than me sometimes. We used to watch and discuss about a lot of horror concepts. People don’t go to horror as a first venture because this vertical needs a lot of thought freedom, which I got for the first film. When we were discussing concepts, all that we have in our minds was, we should come up with an element that hasn’t been used in Indian horror film yet. That is where we found Ouija and it turned out to be the most interesting and attractive selling point.
Do you believe in super natural powers?
Not until we started the script. Before we finalized the concept and taking it on to the papers, I myself played the board and believe me that experience is still haunting me. People always feel the presence of super natural powers or spirits is negative but it has always been positive for me. That happened to be one of the most applauded concepts for me, got me a great film and apparently been a reason to get nominated for the award today.
What was a biggest challenge for you while shooting?
We shot in Malaysia for about a month and for me that was the biggest challenge. New country and not so familiar locations. It was always 45 degrees sun in outdoor. But thankfully our line producer there; Sumit Agarwal had been a great support. Malaysia is like my second home now. Another biggest trouble was, we happened to shoot in the most haunted locations and beaches there. Almost all of the crew members had their own experiences about it. First I thought they were all teasing each other with spooky stories but then I had a little spectral experience for myself too.. That may be because of the subject we have been discussing all the time, but it wasn’t funny then.
For the directors, especially for the debutants it isn’t easy to pilot the cast. And you had four heroines in the film and three of them already acclaimed. How did you deal with it?
Thankfully, I never had to. Yes, it’s a first film for me and not for them. But they never consciously made me feel that. They have been very sweet and supportive, most importantly all are impressively professional. Even today I have their contact numbers saved by their character names. They are all that special to me.
Who is your favourite?
I am not being diplomatic. But it is definitely not fair to pick one. Because they are equally dazzling and dear to me. In fact each one of them has a special quality that is very difficult to choose one over another.
That is interesting.. Then let me call out the names and you tell me what is special about them..
Maya (Shraddha Das)..
She is been in the industry from a very long time and being so senior, she is so obedient. Very co-operative and proficient.
Kshetra (Urmila Gayathri)..
She is Kshetra. Even in real life. I can’t imagine anyone as Kshetra now, she is that apt. Need not to say more.
Krishna (Madhuri Itagi)..
She is a friend for over 3 years before even the film was started. She was the first one to listen to the script. She is very understanding and supportive.
She doesn’t have much experience in acting but a very hard working girl. Dedicated.
How about the rest of your cast and crew.
Bharath has done Balaraju in ‘Ouija. He is a well known face in Telugu film industry. He is an energy and always with positivity. Sayaji shinde, Raja Ravindra and Avinash are much more seniors than all of us. They have lent their experience to us and made us more confident. I owe a lot to my technicians who worked day and nights along with irrespective of the weather conditions.
A horror film will be totally in the hands of the visuals and audio. They are the people who can make audience see the same movie I saw in my head. Our Cinematographer Ravi Kumar and Music director Harinikesh gets credit for that conversion. As well as our editor S R Sekhar. William Ong, our action director is world famous and got new shape to the film.
A little about your association with Vega Entertainment..
I met Mr. Vikram Raju in a coffee shop on a random day. He had a good long conversation and learnt that we have similar taste in movies. Soon after I narrated him the story I was thinking about, and he said ‘Yes, we’ll do it’. From that day on wards, till today, he has been the biggest asset to me. He is like my ultimate form of strength.
When shall we expect your next film?
I will definitely have a release this year. A couple of exciting projects are being discussed. I’ll let you know as soon as there is news.
The nominations are displayed on SIIMA official website and the polling is On. All the best to the aspiring film maker and we wish him all the best.
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