Director Sukumar’s co-production Uppena has launched a whole lot of newcomers. Director Bucchi Babu Sana makes his debut, and so do lead actors Panja Vaisshnav Tej and Krithi Shetty. The team managed a casting coup of sorts, signing up Vijay Sethupathi to play a prominent role.
Excerpts from a conversation between Vishal Menon, Vaisshnav and Krithi.
There were a lot of discussions about whether Uppena should go to OTT. Would you have felt this was a disadvantage?
Krithi Shetty: The producers were very sure this is a film for theatres, and were willing to take a chance and wait. I hope it’s worth the wait for the audience also.
Vaisshnav Tej: I was more worried for the producers as the interest amount was going up. The director also asked if they should move for an OTT release, but they were convinced they would wait.
I want you both to take me through the process of selecting your first film.
Krithi Shetty: I started acting as a hobby. This script changed everything, it was so beautiful, I had to take it up.
Vaisshnav Tej: I never thought I’d act in a film, let alone as main lead. It doesn’t even feel like I’m an actor promoting my film. It’s all very new. I got a couple of offers, but was hesitant and took some time to decide. I did tell the team I was not trained, and they asked me to not worry.
Walk us through the process of being a part of the film, from signing up for it?
Vaisshnav Tej: I had to learn the body language required for the character, and took some acting classes. We worked a lot on it, actually, and we workshopped. I also learnt the slang the character uses. The director wanted us and the set to work in a certain way, and Krithi became a part of the film a week before the shoot.
Krithi Shetty: I had to pick up all of this within a week.
Vaisshnav Tej: She speaks Telugu so well right now.
You both have lived in cities, and your very first film is set in a rural backdrop. Did that make things tougher for you?
Krithi Shetty: Yes, because the language and dialect was different, and difficult to pick up.
Vaisshnav Tej: We learnt a lot on set, and pushed the other to give our best.
This shows in the trailer. Another big thing is Vijay Sethupathi’s presence. You’re pitted against such a big actor. What was your mindset like?
Krithi Shetty: He’s done so many films and characters, and looking at him perform live in front of us was an experience. He’s relaxed and doesn’t prepare a lot, but as soon as the camera is on, there’s a transformation.
Vaishnav Tej: I learnt a lot during the time I spent with him, on and off camera. He’s so down-to-earth.
Have both of you seen a lot of his films even before shoot?
Vaishnav Tej: Yes, of course.
What kind of role does he play?
Vaishnav Tej: The director wrote the story a long time ago and wanted Vijay Sethupathi to be a part of it. He had not done any negative role then. I don’t know how he imagined him in this character.
Krithi Shetty: His character does not have too many dialogues, but is a role that calls for a lot of expressions.