Nov 27, 2008

Avakkai Biriyani Director 'Anish Kuruvilla' Interview

Avakkai Biriyani: A slice of life

Last year Anish Kuruvilla had directed the Telugu film Naa Video Diary (Confessions of a Filmmaker in English) shot on digicam and released it on the Internet. It was quite a daring attempt as exposes the 'negative' side of the film industry.

Subsequently Anish scripted and directed Avakkai Biryani which is slated for release on November 14. Anish has been associated with Sekhar Kammula from his Dollar Dreams days till now (Anand, Godavari, Happy Days). Kammula has produced Avakkai Biryani along with his brother Chandrasekhar Kammula.

Anish delineates about his new film Avakkai Biryani over a cup of coffee:

The title Avakkai Biryani sounds intriguing. Has it something to do with a fusion of cultures?

I like it to be a surprise and want people to discover whether it is one, after coming to the theatres.

What is the film about?

It's the coming-of-age story of two individuals. The film focuses on their dreams, ambitions and relationships. Humour is inbuilt. It's a unique film -- not an urban film as it is set in a small town. The film sends a message to young people to speak out.

'I wanted to have control over the actors'
What are the strong points of Avakkai Biryani?

The film has a good story -- a nice fairy tale. One can watch the story unfold with good characters. It's the old fashioned classic story telling and the characters are those one can identify with. In that sense, it's a slice of life. The film has touching and sensitive events leading to a climax. It is a mix of the Iranian film (in terms of vast landscapes) and classic Telugu film, and will cater to all.

Sekhar Kammula is producing the film. You have been associated with Sekhar for almost close to a decade. How was he as a producer?

Sekhar is a dream producer. He is all that I wanted. He was a pillar of strength. There was no pressure from him as a producer.

Kamal Kamaraju has been cast by you as the main lead. You found a newcomer -- a Telugu girl Bindu Madhavi to star opposite Kamal. Why did you not want to cast established stars?

I made it clear that I did not want stars right from day one. Sekhar said I could try for stars but I wanted to have control over the actors. I have known Kamal from Godavari days (he played the second lead in Godavari). He played the main protagonist in Confessions... Moreover, Kamal has been associated with Avakkai Biryani since the inception stage.

I was clear I wanted a Telugu-speaking girl for the heroine and I chose Bindu Mandhavi, who used to model in Chennai. She is now settled in Hyderabad. She too was looking for an opportunity and I found her suitable. There are quite a few newcomers in the supporting cast too.

'Avakkai Biriyani was shot in and around villages'
You said the film is set in a small town. Where have you shot the film?

In and around villages in Vikarabad (near Hyderabad).

Who is the cinematographer of Avakkai Biriyani?

Shamdat from Kerala. The location around Vikarabad was a dream one for him. He's done a terrific job.

How did you come to know of him?

He had shot a Bahrain film which I saw. I liked the tones and his sensibilities. He has given an Iranian feel to that movie.

You are introducing a new music director in this movie. How did you discover him?

Yes, he is Manikanth Kadri, son of the saxophone maestro Kadri Gopalnath. I had heard a track (he had remixed the famous Vara Veena) composed by him on my friend's laptop. Manikanth had done music only for Kannada films. I wanted him to work for Avakkai Biryani.

'Editor Praveen Boyna has been my closest sounding board'
How do you find the music?

It's awesome. He's done melody-based tracks.

Who has edited the film?

Editor Praveen Boyna has been my closest sounding board and involved with the story since the beginning. He was also the co-producer of Confessions of a Filmmaker.

Of course, the styles of cutting both the films are different. He has had his own challenges.

'Avakkai Biryani will encourage people to come out with original stories'
Are you nervous with the date of release just a day away?

I am nervous. But I would say Avakkai Biryani is truly a film not seen before. It is an original piece of work and I am proud of it.

Do you think Avakkai Biryani is going to make a mark or create an impact?

I think a lot of people will take encouragement from the fact that we can tell stories. Most of the time, it's a medley of things. There is no proper structure. I think Avakkai Biryani will encourage people to come out with original stories.

I am confident every one will get a name for themselves. The film is fresh and original. I get confidence from the fact that Sekhar has seen it and he is behind the project.