The most awaited Telugu movie Love Story, starring Naga Chaitanya and Sai Pallavi is finally set to hit the silver screens on September 24 this year. The songs from the film, directed by Sekhar Kammula, have already gone viral, particularly 'Saranga Dariya'. Considering theatres reopened only recently in the Telugu states after they were closed due to repeated lockdowns, the film may well end up being a test to see whether the audience will return to the big screen.
The trailer of Love Story, which released a few days ago, has increased the audience's expectations, considering Sai Pallavi appears to be doing a full-fledged dance role in the film. The actor has worked with director Sekhar Kammula previously in Fidaa, which was a blockbuster.
Ahead of its release, National Award-winning director, Sekhar Kammula shares his thoughts with TNM on why he chose Sai Pallavi and Naga Chaitanya for this movie, his journey in the film industry, and about his future project with actor Dhanush.
What is Love Story all about?
Love Story is a movie that deals with the struggle for existence. It's about a man who comes from a small town, Armoor in Telangana from an oppressed section, and a woman who comes from a village background and their love story. I might not be able to represent 100% of the oppressed section, but I have tried to retain at least 90% of the representation in the movie and people will relate to it.
Many Telugu movies are now about the urban middle class, software, engineering. It's been a while, in recent times, since we saw stories about the struggle for existence, stories that talk about disparities, hunger struggles...they have become rare. Once upon a time, there were a lot of such movies. For example, Chiranjeevi garu movies and ones that were directed by Dasari Narayana Rao.
This is that kind of a story, and if it's told by a mainstream hero like Naga Chaitanya, it will be relatable. Even the woman has her own problems. We have touched on gender issues as well. So this is the love story of two such people and their struggles. It's more than a romantic comedy, it's an emotional musical love story.
What is the reason behind casting Sai Pallavi and Naga Chaitanya for these particular roles?
The main reason for selecting Sai Pallavi is that I have already worked with her before in Fidaa (2017). I know her potential as an actor and the movie is also dance based, where there is a concept of fitness dance, and she is a good dancer.
And I wanted to do something different from Fidaa. While Bhanumathi's character is a straightforward one, a person who speaks her mind in an open way, Mounikaâ€™s character from Love Story is a layered one and more complex. I knew that she could pull it off.
Coming to Naga Chaitanya, he has honesty in his face, a good smile. He is believable and vulnerable, a soft person. I wanted these qualities for the role. Naga Chaitanya has also worked hard for this role, being in this character 24X7, working out, rehearsals, getting it right with the facial expressions, mannerisms, costumes, Telangana dialect. This is the first time that he is being shown like this and it is completely different from what he has done before.
I'm also excited about the chemistry between the lead pair on the screen.
When was this movie shot? And what precautions were taken during COVID-19?
We had finished almost 60- 70% of the shoot before the first wave of COVID-19, and when the permissions were given to resume shooting, we were the first few movies which started shooting by taking all precautions. We used to get our own food, maintain our physical distancing, wear masks, get insurance for everybody. We finished the shoot within 30 days and post production work started after that.
The movie was postponed several times after it was ready to be released. How did you feel?
It was very difficult and risky. On April 6, we were planning to release the theatrical trailer, but fortunately, it did not happen and the movie was postponed from April 14, 2021 to a later date due to the second wave of COVID-19. Keeping in mind the release date, we were slowly putting out the songs and the content was also getting popular slowly. If the trailer had also been released, there are chances that the content might become stale.
There was continuous stress and confusion throughout the release of the movie. The general atmosphere in society was also not good. Families were experiencing difficult times, there were sad stories everywhere and the people's frame of mind had become grim, as many were affected due to the pandemic. So, we had to wait for the right time.
We had â€˜Cinema Kashtaluâ€™ (a phrase used in Telugu to mean that someone has so many problems that it looks filmy) and this movie is releasing after a lot of struggles. I hope it is warmly welcomed.
How has your journey from Dollar Dreams and Anand to Love Story been?
I could do what I wanted to do. My movies are always about the stories I want to tell. So, I'm glad that I'm always in a position to narrate the same to the audience. The audiences have given me that stature and privilege to narrate the story. I'm happy about it. I'm personally satisfied with my journey in the industry. I'm also proud that I keep correcting myself and growing with each movie. Since I write scripts myself, I update myself without becoming stale and this is a constant journey. As a director, I'm happy with my position.
You give importance to the story without elevating any character unnecessarily for the sake of stardom. How have you managed to stick to this?
It just so happened. It's not possible for everyone and not everyone might want to write like that. Everybody has their own style. But it happened to me. My movies talk about content. I have to do more bold stories and I might do them too. In this journey, the audience and producers have given me full freedom and they appreciate the content. So, it's not difficult.
This stamp has come to me since my first movie and I could retain it. In this process, the audience has trusted me and I did not lose their trust.
What is the Dhanush movie going to be about? What can the audience expect?
It is going to be a thriller, more of a socio-political thriller. It's too early to reveal anything more at this point. All I can say is that it's going to be a good movie. People can watch it without any language barriers as we are planning to release it in Hindi, Telugu and Malayalam.
Watch Love Story trailler here :