‘Bombhaat’ is releasing on Amazon Prime Video on December 3.

Simran Choudhury and Sushanth Reddy in a still from Bombhaat, where Simran is holding Sushanth and smiling at him affectionately as he looks away and points at something excitedlyAll images: Amazon Prime Video
Flix Interview Wednesday, December 02, 2020 - 17:20

In 2018, Sophia, the humanoid robot, was the centre of attention at an IT conference in Hyderabad. Speaking at the event, Sophia, who is the first artificially intelligent robot to have citizenship status (in Saudi Arabia), allayed fears over AI taking over humankind and spoke of a symbiotic relationship between robots and humans. The charming humanoid known for interesting, often cheeky conversations, is the inspiration behind the upcoming Telugu science fiction film Bombhaat. The film is inspired by a fun element from a video of a ‘date’ between Will Smith and Sophia, where Sophia refuses the American actor’s advances with her sardonic replies, says director Raghavendra Varma.  

Bombhaat is set to release on Amazon Prime Video on Thursday. The film tells the story of Vicky (Sai Sushanth Reddy), who unexpectedly meets Maya (Simran Choudhary), a humanoid robot, who is being hunted by ‘The Mad Scientist’. 

“As long as technology is within human control, things are good. Once we go into the hands of technology, be it in the form of addiction or something else, problems can arise. With this theme, Bombhaat tells a sweet love story, with a struggle. A humanoid enters the love story, and what happens as a result is the story,” director Raghavendra elaborates to TNM.  

While Bombhaat is Raghavendra’s first film as a director, he has worked as an editor, and has been a part of the Telugu film industry for nearly 20 years. “I’ve always wanted to direct a film. When I mentioned the idea for Bombhaat to my mentor, K Raghavendra Rao, he really liked it and said I should work on it,” says Raghavendra. K Raghavendra Rao, the renowned Tollywood director, is also presenting the film. 

In Telangana, the word ‘bombhaat’ is used to call something awesome or superb. “Since we have a superhero element, we thought Bombhaat would be apt,”  the director says. 

This is the second major film for both Simran and Sushanth, who were last seen as part of an ensemble cast in the 2018 buddy comedy film Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi

Speaking about playing a humanoid after doing a girl-next-door kind of role in her previous film, Simran says, “It’s a character that doesn’t come your way very often. So I jumped at the idea … because as an actor, you’re constantly looking for roles where you can play around and grow into.” The trailer shows Simran in a few intriguing action sequences. “Since there's a lot of one-on-one fighting happening, I watched a few combat videos on YouTube and tried to adapt that into my performance.” 

In the film, Sushanth plays Vicky, a guy with a long spell of bad luck that affects his relationship with the woman he loves, Chaitra (Chandini Chowdary). “What attracted me to the film was the fact that the team was trying to tell a science fiction story in Telugu,” says Sushanth, adding that as a huge fan of sci-fi, he feels lucky to be part of such a film so early in his career. 

Sci-fi as a genre is extremely underexplored in Telugu. Aditya 369 is possibly one of the extremely scarce Telugu films made in this genre. Raghavendra says that the sci-fi vacuum left behind by Aditya 369 is a definite advantage for Bombhaat. “One of the reasons the genre is underexplored is because of the big budgets involved. In the past decade, Telugu audiences have seen either romance, action, horror or thriller films. So our film will definitely be a kind of relief,” he says. 

He goes on to add, “Even with Aditya 369, the reason it was such a big hit is because, while showing us a family drama, he (Singeetam Srinivasa Rao) transported us into a different world. People really enjoy that kind of fantasy. Of course that doesn’t mean all such films will be hits. But recently there have been no Telugu sci-fi films, and I feel that can work to our advantage.” 

Read: 'Aditya 369': Revisiting the Telugu film which explored time travel in 1991

When asked if the writers were concerned about scientific accuracy, the filmmaker says, “I was clear on one thing from the start. Where drama starts, logic must end. I just wanted to tell the story we had in mind, the way I wanted to tell it.” 

The director also says that a subject like robotics, if explored deeply, may only be fascinating for those who understand the subject well and are already interested in it. “But there are all kinds of people among our audiences. Everyone doesn’t necessarily need to understand robotics or have an interest in it. Yet, when Sophia came to Hyderabad, the entire state was intrigued. The story needs to be told in a simplified way so that people can connect to it, by slowly explaining just enough. If our grandparents are watching it, it should make sense in their world too. I feel we need to strike a balance. We must not get into too much scientific detail, but we also shouldn't jump into the story without explaining anything at all.”

Calling the film a sci-fi entertainer, he says that it is more of an emotional story. “He (Vicky) doesn't know at first that she (Maya) is a humanoid. When he gets to know, he behaves in a childish way, using her powers for silly things. When his character slowly evolves, he is reminded of his duty. His character is elevated, and the purpose of creating the humanoid is also justified,”  he adds. 

When asked if he is concerned about comparisons with foreign-language films or traces of influences, considering there are very few precedents of the sci-fi genre in Tollywood, he says, “Fifteen days before we started shooting, I saw the trailer of Alita: Battle Angel (an American cyberpunk action film), and my heart was in my throat. A few people have commented on the trailer too saying it looks very similar. I rushed to watch Alita to see if it was indeed the same as our film. But we have nothing to fear, because we have a new story to tell,” he says. 

“In any case, every movie is on people’s fingertips today. Audiences are extremely aware, so whatever we do, trolling is inevitable,” he quips. 

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