To describe using internet slang, Month Of Madhu is a film that came out of the syllabus. The Srikanth Nagothi directorial emerged as a poignant, unconventional relationship drama exploring themes seldom portrayed with such sensitivity. In fact, this is the first time I remember hearing words like ‘girl crush’ and ‘victimise’ in a Telugu film, meaning that it has captured the lifestyle and conflicts of urban youth like no other film did in recent times. But it doesn’t mean it restricts its portrayal of relationships and the intricacies involved only to youngsters. In fact, the beauty in the film’s writing is how it presents both the classic, selfless love and more modern, no-strings-attached relationships without ever judging its characters.
Addressing the film’s non-judgemental gaze, which sets the film a class apart from the films that explored relationships in the past, Srikanth says, “It might be a part of my personal evolution. Maybe I’m trying not to judge the people around me and those who hurt me. I’m also growing old and I’m not making films like I’m a 20-something-year-old hot-blooded youngster. I’m at a place where I want to be conscious and accountable. I’m enjoying this process. Deep down, it feels like I’m not just working and going back home, but actually leaving good energies out there.”
Speaking about this facet purely from a writing standpoint, Srikanth adds, “I don’t think a writer has the luxury to judge characters. If you are creating a character, you are creating their traits too. These characters are non-existent, and you have an opportunity to create a personality. And as a writer, you might get a chance to share your opinion through these characters.”
Opening up about the process of directing his actors and how they add value to the characters and the narrative, Srikanth reveals, “I give the actors lots of source information about the characters. This information might make it to the film or not, but it helps the actors understand these people better." And this gives the actors a chance to interpret the characters in their own ways. He adds, "When I explained the character of Lekha to Swathi, she brought all the accessories she had collected as a teenager, from her Colours time and wore them for the younger portions set in 2003. Also, if you notice, Lekha always has mehendi applied on her hands in 2003 sequences. That was Swathi's idea because she wanted to differentiate the character’s dull present and colorful past. Lekha was happy and hopeful back then; her relationship with life was smooth. This is what actors bring on board when they love the character. And to Naveen [Chandra], I simply told him not to act like a drunkard because, barring two or three scenes, he is intoxicated for the most part of the film. We had to find normalcy in the guy.”
While he might have enjoyed the process of bringing these characters to life, it wasn’t an entirely smooth sail for Srikanth and the team, especially when the business of cinema entered the picture. “Most of the people from the industry didn’t like the trailer of the film. They asked me, ‘Who cares for this girl?’ They are always thinking about what the audience will like. They already have a set opinion on how the audiences perceive such films and they are outright rejecting films like us.”
Srikanth, despite facing such harsh rejections, says that going forward is the only way. “I don’t know what happens tomorrow. But we have to keep trying and taking chances. Some will land and some won’t. That’s okay. But if you stop taking chances, we’ll never get the kotthadham (novelty) in films we keep demanding. Not everybody is a Rajamouli or an Anirudh; there are many normal people out there who can’t crack perfectly every single time. I’ll always keep taking chances. The idea is to approach cinema innovatively. Your approach should change for every film.”