After epic films like the two-part NTR biopic and Balakrishna-starrer Gautamiputra Satakarni, Krish Jagarlamudi returns with Konda Polam starring Panja Vaisshnav Tej and Rakul Preeth Singh that's releasing in theatres on October 8. In this interview with Baradwaj Rangan, Krish talks about his sensibility, whether he's switched to making films on a larger canvas after making relatively smaller films in his early days, and his interest in history. Edited Excerpts…
After Gamyam and Vedam, your later films have a bigger scale. Is it simply that you now have more money at your disposal?
It's not about money because after Gamyam and Vedam, all my films were produced by me and my partner. It's about the stories we picked up. After Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum, we made Kanche, a story that hadn't been told until then. It was about the village 'Military' Madhavaram (in Godavari district) — 2000 people from it fought in the two world wars. I was excited to make this story and was waiting for a few years for an opportunity.
You seem to be interested in history. Do you have a passion for it? How would you describe Gautamiputra Satakarni?
Gautamiputra Satakarni was about a great king from the Satavahana dynasty. But it's also about one man's urge to unite a war-torn country, and the only way he could do that was through war. Just as I said before, I saw this as an issue about a single person and the society around him. Of course, there's a lot of subtext.
After a decade of filmmaking, I've realized you have to be strong in history, science and psychology to be a good filmmaker. Most of my historical knowledge came after I became a filmmaker. You can't make mistakes while making a film. If it's a newcomer like Vaishav Tej, it's easier. But when you work with stars, you have to fulfil expectations. But there's no pressure, really, because you'd be really excited and elated to work with Pawan Kalyan garu, Balakrishna garu or Allu Arjun garu, all of whom I have worked with.
Was there a particular film after seeing which you felt you had to become a filmmaker?
There were many in my formative years, from Sagara Sangamam to Nayagan. Kathir's Idhayam, Gentleman, Shiva, Patal Bhairavi, Maya Bazaar… I can't name just a few. When I see Raj Kapoor's films, I feel like making films like that: a Frank Capra style with my own understanding of society.
After massive films like the NTR biopics and Gautamiputra Satakarni, you finally want to get back to a small space again with Konda Polam, with something that's not as epic. Is that right?
All posters of Konda Polam say that the film is "an epic story". So, it has its own epicness. We shot the film in the forest and you'll see tigers and pythons in the film. In June last year, we had a directors' association meeting and everyone from Rajamouli garu, Trivikram [Srinivas], Sekhar [Kammula] were discussing books. Sukumar and Indraganti Mohankrishna asked me if I had read 'Konda Polam' and 'Shaptha Boomi'. When I read it, I realized that the latter could become a web series like Game Of Thrones.
I fell in love with 'Konda Polam'. I called my associates and told them that we were making the film — this was during the first lockdown. I also gifted the book to Pawan Kalyan who is an avid reader. I was working on a film with him that was stuck due to the lockdown. With his permission, I made Konda Polam in a few months as it was a relatively small film.
A lot of people talk about your sensibility. I read a review of Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum which said the film was a mix of commercial elements and 'Krish's sensibilities'. What are those sensibilities?
I don't know, because you get tagged very easily in this field. I try to talk about the same subject in every film of mine: The subject is the man or the woman in the film. Gamyam is about a man's journey in society. Vedam, an anthology, is the story of society itself. When writing Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum, I thought higher: every man or woman has a society inside themselves. I want every film to work emotionally, commercially and artistically — I want it to be entertaining. But after Vedam people put me in a box that I'll never fit into because I have my own way of telling stories.