The filmmaker speaks to TNM about writing 'Majili', how love stories work on screen, directing Chai-Sam and more.

Sam-Chais first film together after wedding Director Shiva Nirvana speaks on Majili
Flix Interview Monday, April 01, 2019 - 17:26

Shiva Nirvana’s Majili, starring real-life couple Samantha and Naga Chaitanya, is all set to hit theatres on April 5. After delivering the smash hit Ninnu Kori in 2017, Shiva is back with another emotional romantic drama after a year and a half.

If through Ninnu Kori Shiva made an unrealistic love triangle look real with its character-driven story, drama and the right amount of humour, Majili is a simple conflict-ridden love story, he says. The director is awaiting the release of the film, after completing scripts for two other films.

Chai-Sam are put up in a deglamourized set-up in, shot in a colony in Vizag in Majili. After spending a decade in the industry, Shiva confesses he is still skeptical of being in front of the camera even for interviews, but in a candid conversation to TNM, he speaks about writing Majili, how love stories work on screen, directing Chai-Sam and more.

It’s said that you took less than two weeks to complete the script for Majili. Then what took you so long to begin your second film after the success of Ninnu Kori?

After Ninnu Kori, I did not want to do another romantic drama and had finished the scripts for two films, both action thrillers, before writing Majili. But dates and combinations of actors didn’t work out and I didn’t get the bulk date of any hero. And I decided to wait.

But that was when Chaitanya called me up and asked me to write a script for him. I was baffled because I didn’t have anything for Chaitanya then. But after a week, Majili struck and I was excited to share the story with Chaitanya. I completed a portion of it in three days and narrated the same to the actor. He was convinced and I finished the script in the next couple of days.

I usually decide the cast for my movie only after I finish writing the script. But this time, Chaitanya and Samantha seemed perfect for the plot of Majili and I decided to go on board with them.

The trailer of Majili has faint similarities with the plot of Ninnu Kori. Both speak of heart failure, a hero reminiscing on his lost love and a strong woman character trying to bring the hero back on his foot. Do the similarities stop there or are there more?

I think the similarities stop there and there is much more to the plot of MajiliNinnu Kori is a very light-hearted, urban-centric love story. In real life, a man staying in the same house as his former girlfriend and her husband, is an impossible scenario. But the treatment of the script made it seem real on screen.

But on the other hand, Majili has a more realistic plot and the writing is simple. Chaitanya will appear in two get-ups, one in his 20s and another in his mid-30s. It’s based on a story set in a small colony in Gnanapuram in Vizag. Chaitanya and Samantha make a young couple and the story develops from the conflict that arises between them. The story is as simple as watching a couple’s life without their knowledge.

Every Friday, a lot of love stories hit the screen. But Majili is unique in the fact that it’s set in a middle class residential colony, it doesn’t over-glamourise its protagonists and most importantly, it’s an after marriage love story.

You have said in interviews earlier that you wanted your first film to have Nani in the lead. The idea worked well and now you have two other big names from the industry, Chaitanya and Samantha. How has it been directing the actors?

Chaitanya is an actor who always respects the director’s decisions. When I was writing Poorna’s character (played by Chaitanya), I needed someone who could underplay emotions. A character, who doesn’t deliver loud dialogues, isn’t too expressive about his feelings. I needed someone who could express emotions through gestures. And Chaitanya, with his body language, was prefect as Poorna.

For Sravani’s role, we needed a strong performer. Someone who could pull off a middle class get-up with élan. And I believe, in theatres, Samantha as Sravani would immediately connect with the audience. The characters are well-balanced and I would say Samantha has equal prominence as Sravani compared to Poorna in the movie.

What are the elements in your script that you think strike a chord with the audience?

If you want to direct a romantic flick, it shouldn’t divert from the love story between the two characters in the story. If you look at any of the great love stories from around the world, all the conflicts and characters in the film would revolve around the two hearts. If you put a stunt, three-four songs and multiple comedy tracks in between, the script wouldn’t work. For any love story to be successful, the writing should be simple and straight. You can underplay emotions and still make an intense movie.

You are two films old. Both your films cater to the young audience. How much of creative freedom do you think a director can take in this industry and how much are the audience willing to adapt to change?

Creative freedom always depends on the director’s clarity of thoughts. If you are super-confident about your script, I think you can convince any producer about the characters and the plots in your story. When you have clarity, others too tend to respect your decisions and choices.

But when you lose the same confidence, especially debutants, people meddle and interfere in your work. It all depends on the clarity and conviction of a filmmaker because no producer would invest millions in a director’s film despite however revolutionary a storyline it is, if he isn’t convinced about the film himself. Audiences are willing to adapt to new genres as long as the storyline is convincing and superstardom is underplayed in films.

Why the name ‘Majili’? Is there a story behind it?

I'm particular about naming my movies, especially loves stories. I wouldn’t want my movie to be named Nee Prema Naa Thalli. It sounds very ordinary. I always respect the title sound. I love three-four letter titles. Even while naming Ninnu Korri (Wanting you), there isn’t a full stop after the two words. Titles should be abstract and sound intriguing.

Majili means ‘a halt in the journey’. The idea behind the title is that maybe till 27-28 years of our lives, we are in a rush to accomplish things, until we find that one person and enter into the institution called marriage. It’s that halt which adds more meaning to our lives. And Majili also begins from that halt in the lives of two people.

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