Director Venu Yeldandi on ‘Balagam’: Each character stems from real-life observations

Priyadarshi, Sudhakar Reddy and Kavya Kalyanram within the Telugu movie ‘Balagam’
| Picture Credit score: Particular Association

The Telugu movie Balagam (the group/supporters) is profitable hearts in theatres, on a digital streaming platform in addition to public screenings within the villages of Telangana. It has additionally received seven awards at worldwide movie festivals to date. together with Los Angeles Cinematography Awards, Washington DC Worldwide Cinema Competition and Onkyo Movie Awards in Ukraine. Venu Yeldandi, higher often called a comic book actor earlier than he wrote and directed Balagam, calls this response a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.” 

Venu grew up in Sircilla, Telangana, and remembers the happenings in his giant household of round 100 folks. “I was the ninth child to my parents. My grandparents and their siblings had a number of children; I have fond memories of all of us bonding over festivals and conversations. Though I have been a comic actor for more than two decades, I always wanted to tell stories from my region,” he says, throughout this interview at producer Dil Raju’s workplace in Hyderabad.

Balagam stands out in its portrayal of the agricultural Telangana tradition — Bathukamma festivities, folks bonding over meals, marriage and demise and retains the conversations as actual as potential. Movies that includes the Telangana dialect, music and tradition have grown in recognition within the final decade. Outstanding amongst them are Fidaa, Mallesham, Love Story, iSmart Shankar, Jathi Rathnalu, DJ Tillu and final week’s launch, Dasara.

The concept of Balagam took form in 2016-17, he reminisces. “My friend Pradeep Advaitham had gone to his hometown when his grandfather passed away; he had disappeared for 11 days. When I contacted him, he said ‘bhale untai mana culture kotlatalu’. I was reminded of everything that had happened when my father passed away. There was a story waiting to be told.”

Actor-turned-director Venu Yeldandi

Actor-turned-director Venu Yeldandi
| Picture Credit score:
Particular Association

Balagam’s story explores the politics in relationships after a demise within the household is a theme that has been explored earlier in Ram Prasad ki Tehrvi (Hindi), Sethum Aayiram Pon (Tamil) and Thithi (Kannada). Venu felt that Balagam would stand out because it presents an insider’s view of rural Telangana. 

Venu shares that in 2020, quickly after the primary lockdown, he gave a two-and-a-half-hour narration to producer Dil Raju. “With his vast experience as a producer, Dil Raju helped me tweak certain aspects to make the story more appealing,” he provides. Venu had all the time been drawn to the life like presentation of tales in Tamil and Malayalam cinema and needed to do one thing comparable in Telugu. When movies equivalent to Care of Kancharapalem (CoK) and Mallesham hit theatres, he noticed how folks had been receiving these movies. “Our people have always been open to such portrayals. The film industry was reluctant and assumed it would not work. With films like CoK and Mallesham, I was confident that I am going in the right direction. I was not scared, because I had my acting career to fall back on. Even if I had failed to score a big hit, I was confident that Balagam would be regarded as a good film.”

Priyadarshi in a still from ‘Balagam’

Priyadarshi in a nonetheless from ‘Balagam’
| Picture Credit score:
Particular Association

The finetuning of the script took time. Venu did majority of the writing, with assist from his group members Nagaraju, Ramesh and Arun, lyricist Shyam Kasarla, fellow filmmaker Okay V Anudeep and some members from Dil Raju’s group. “Plenty of research went into the construction of character arcs. For example, the reconciliation of the heroine’s father with his brother in law had to come from a space of self realisation. A man who broke family ties for a small reason, and again walks off in a huff, will not reconcile easily. It happens only when his daughter voices aloud if she, too, will be caught in a situation like her mother in future.”

Venu reveals that it took two months for Dil Raju to offer his nod to the title Balagam: “He wanted to be sure that people would relate to the word. Today people are owning the word ‘balagam’.”

A number of display screen assessments had been performed earlier than finalising the actors. Whereas Priyadarshi, Kavya Kalyanram and some others are well-known in Telugu cinema, lots of the supporting actors had been chosen from theatre teams, Chindu yakshaganam troupe and Surabhi theatre group. “I saw to it that actors who are shown as characters from the same family have some resemblances, be it in facial features and height. And every character in the film stems from people I have seen in my village,” provides Venu. He additionally tapped Telangana folks music teams for among the songs.

Phrase-of-mouth publicity helped the movie change into a rage. Aside from the standing ovations he has been receiving on the screenings, Venu says the heartwarming side is folks telling him about how they’re reconnecting with their siblings and prolonged households after watching the movie. “I have tears in my eyes. What more can I ask for?” he says.

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