Debut director Raghavendra Varma and actor Sai Sushanth Reddy speak to Satvik Kumar about how they decided to do a sci-fi film, the choice of character actors in Bombhaat, which is screening on Amazon Prime Video, and more. Excerpts from a conversation.
For a science fiction film, how did the title Bombhaat fit in?
Sushanth: Bombhaat is a colloquial slang meaning ‘super’ and it is widely used across Telangana. Our earlier choice was Project Butterfly, but since it was already taken, we were looking around for another name, and that’s when our writer Akshay Poolla suggested this.
Raghavendra: Since the subject has a certain superhero spin, we felt Bombhaat was an apt choice.
In line with Ex-Machina, Terminator and our very own Robot and 2.0, how different is Bombhaat?
We live in an era where the first task upon waking up is checking our social media status. Our film addresses how technology has taken control of our daily lives and its perils. It’s a satirical take on technological advancements, and how we have become overly dependent on them.
Sushanth, what about this script made you choose to do a sci-fi film after Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi?
Post Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi, I was very conscious about choosing stories that were different and explored various genres. I wanted my films to stand out from the regular potboilers, and the concept of a humanoid intrigued me during narration. That’s when I decided to be a part of this film.
Sci-fi films in India have predominantly been big budget films. Does budget play a crucial role in such a film, or does it have to do with the right vision and execution on a regular budget?
This is my debut film and I know what I can showcase based on the budget. Movies such as Robot and 2.0 required high-end graphics and a scaled-up budget. But, I won’t term Bombhaat as a complete sci-fi feature. Yes, there are elements of it, but the driving force of the film is its story.
How did your association with the legendary director K Raghavendra Rao come about?
My father was an associate director to Raghavendra Rao since 1979. He also directed the movie Athma Bandham (1991), inspired by the Hollywood classic Ghost. I completed my course in animation and was working with Raghavendra Rao’s team as editor and associate director. I sought his opinion from the scripting phase and he has been an immense support in the making of this film.
What was the thought behind casting prominent theater artistes such as Makarand Deshpande and Shishir Sharma?
Sushanth: For me, it was a great learning experience working along with them. They can provide nearly 10 variations for their character, just glancing through the scene paper.
Raghavendra: Since the leads were mostly newcomers, I wanted established actors to play crucial character roles. We initially thought of Mahesh Manjrekar, but we went ahead with Vineet Kumar since he was already familiar with movies such as Vikramarkudu.
How did you zero in on music director Josh B?
Josyabhatla (Josh B) is well known in the classical music forum. I have known him for the past eight years, and he has lent me compositions during my stint in television. I felt he could compose music for films.
Which is your favorite sci-fi film in Telugu?
Raghavendra & Sushanth: It has to be Singeetam Srinivasa Rao’s Adithya 369. Apart from being a time-travel film, it had a wonderful story line.