Excerpts from a conversation between Hemanth Kumar CR and the team of Telugu anthology Addham on Aha. The films have been written by Siva Ananth, who has also directed one of them. Sarjun KM and Barath Neelakantan handle the other two films. The cast includes Prasanna, Kishore, Jayaprakash, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar and Rohini.
Our view on life has changed so much during the pandemic — our relationship with people around us, how we perceive work…. Did that sort of affect you in your writing and the characterisation or sequences?
Siva Ananth: The society that we’re living in is right in the middle of the Ice Age, that’s the scientific theory — only we don’t feel it, we think it’s normal. I have a pretty realistic take on everything, so I keep talking about not losing relationships and friendships over trivial issues, because we are not going to be here forever. So, the pandemic didn’t take that output, it didn’t change the fundamental principles of our moral standing. But, it did change the working style. It became more urgent, we wanted to connect with each other very quickly, wanted to support each other, we wanted to stand by each other and probably tell more stories that are more about hope, because that’s what we need. What this pandemic has taught us is that we are all interconnected, that this is not the time to be selfish or carry wounds from the past and have vengeful thoughts. It is a time for forgiveness, a time to move on. That said, I could have written these stories at any other time too, because morality is eternal.
Sreekar Sir, has the nature of your work changed? Has your perception of what cinema storytelling is or what it means to people changed in these last six months?
Sreekar Prasad: Yeah definitely. When Siva bounced these scripts off me and I said they are very nice, precise and subtle. Also, I felt this was a good attempt to put something out like this in Telugu, it’s going in the right direction. He asked me to suggest an editor, and I ended up volunteering.
Varalaxmi: Thank God. (laughs)
Prasanna: That’s exactly what Siva wanted. (laughter)
Sreekar Prasad: I call myself a well-wisher of Siva. We’ve known each other for quite some time, so we really hit it off well. When the script came, I thought it was very precise. Suddenly, stories being told on OTT platforms makes more sense to me because we are generally concentrating more on the stars and stuff like that. The biggest takeaway is that a story can be told exactly how it has to be, without having to dilute it. In most feature films, we are trying to cut short the story after the film has been shot or trying to put back things… Here, all I had to do was be with Siva and the directors to see that the film comes through properly, emotion-wise. Also, I think in this situation, the production has done a very nice job. They were hands-on. Producers Sujatha and Devasena were always there to see the process and progress of the film, and they were really kicked up about doing such things. It was a very nice experience working with the whole team.
Rohini: I saw the edit when I went for dubbing, and we were using a lot of silence in the scene, and Sarjun and I went with the flow and I was taking a lot of time with silence in between and just letting it come. Usually, when we see the edit, the silence is taken off, because of many reasons, including length. But, in that particular scene, there is so much silence that conveys the struggle of that woman. I was happy that Sreekar Sir is editing it, and that Sarjun retained those silences.
Sreekar Prasad: Actually, the pauses actually help you sync emotions. We try to follow that in all the edits that we do, even in features. If required, we cut off the story rather than the nuances of a scene. One more takeaway for me was the discussion with Sarjun on his project. It was shot a little ingeniously, because they couldn’t go out and shoot outdoors at night. The way he composed the entire lorry sequence inside a floor was great.