The movie, which released on Netflix recently, has been winning praise from across the country.

A screenshot from Cinema Bandi where a man is trying to take a photo of two other men in a field YouTube/Netflix India
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In the last couple of years, several small budget movies like Colour Photo, Mail,  Middle Class Melodies mand Jathi Ratnalu which were shot with a comparatively new cast, have done pretty well in Tollywood. A recent addition to the list is Cinema Bandi, which had an OTT release on Netflix on May 14. The feature film went on to grab the top spot on Netflix India within a day of its release on the platform. The movie revolves around a group of people in a Rayalaseema village who embark on filmmaking after they find a high-end camera accidentally in an auto.

Cinema Bandi has been directed by Praveen Kandregula and is bankrolled by Bollywood producers Raj and DK. In an interview with TNM, the team, which is basking in the success of the movie, spoke about their experience.

Praveen, who made his directorial debut through the film, says that though they were confident that they were making a ‘good and honest’ film, they had not expected the kind of response that the team has been receiving. “We have been receiving appreciation from around the country, from different states, and the movie releasing on Netflix has become an advantage as audiences from everywhere can watch our movie,” he says.

Read: ‘Cinema Bandi’ review: A delightful story on democratising filmmaking

Cinema Bandi was initially made for a theatrical release. However, like many other movies, it was pushed to the OTT platform due to the spread of the coronavirus. The movie was shot in 30 days in 2019 in a village on the Andhra-Karnataka border.

For Praveen, the best compliment he has received so far is that viewers said that the movie made them smile amidst depressing news from around the pandemic-engulfed world. The movie has come as a surprise without much promotion and Praveen says that this was intentional. “We wanted the movie to be a surprise for everyone, which is the reason we did not even release songs or promote it apart from releasing the trailer," he says.

Cinema Bandi director Praveen Kandregula (Image: Facebook/Praveen Kandregula) 

Praveen adds that he was hopeful about the success of the movie as it is about filmmaking. “Everybody loves cinema. Though the movie is about filmmaking, we haven't gone into the technicalities. Even a layperson would be able to understand the movie and relate to it," he says. The movie, in fact, is inspired by the director's personal experiences. “In my childhood, my father bought me a camera and back then, I did not know how to use it. But we cousins managed to make a short film and enjoyed watching it ourselves on our TV,” recalls Praveen.

The movie’s cast has made a mark with their impressive performances. Vikas Vashista, an actor who has worked in the Kannada film industry for the past nine years, made his debut in Tollywood with Cinema Bandi. Vikas says that this movie has brought him much needed recognition. He adds that he has been receiving a lot of compliments for the dialect he speaks in the movie and his dialogue delivery. The movie was shot with sync sound on location without any other dubbing.

Actor Vikas Vashista in the role of Veera Babu in Cinema Bandi (Image: Facebook/Praveen Kandregula)

It's not often that we see the Rayalaseema dialect in Telugu movies. Though it was common at one point, it was limited to being spoken by antagonists on screen. Telugu movies mostly stick to the Andhra dialect and it's only in the last decade that the Telangana dialect is also being used in mainstream cinema. Vikas, who also comes from the same region of the Andhra-Karnataka border where the film was shot, says that the dialect came naturally to him as he grew up among people who spoke it.

Commenting on the preparation for the role, Vikas says, “It is not easy to ride an auto and behave like an auto driver who comes from a small village. I had to observe and imbibe their mannerisms, dialect, and intonations. I had to practise and prepare all this,” says Vikas. Offers from the Telugu industry started coming in soon after the release of the trailer, Vikas says. He has been listening to Telugu scripts but is yet to sign a project. 

While Cinema Bandi has a rural touch to it,  director Praveen says that his next project is going to be a completely different film in an urban setup, and that urban audiences will be able to connect with the movie.

Also Read: 'Endearing and full of hope': Samantha praises ‘Cinema Bandi’