Venkatesh and Mahesh speak in sync. Or so it seems. Even though both first time directors spoke separately, shortly after the launch of their new film, Venkatesh’s responses are eerily similar to that of his co-director, Mahesh.
“We are first cousins. So we spent a lot of time together since birth. We are the best of friends and a lot of our thoughts are always in sync. My ideas are his and vice versa. Twin minds, though not twins per se,” Venkatesh says.
Both directors will mark their debut with a new film starring Mahat Raghavendra and Yaashika Anand. Bharathan Pictures is the producer. Filming begins on January 2019 in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
Venkatesh and Mahesh handled digital promotions for celebrities from the film world for six years. They are in their early twenties now and consider it a massive feat and blessing that they have an opportunity to direct a film at such a young age. “Since Facebook took off, we have been in digital marketing. I started off with Velraj Sir’s facebook page. He is like a mentor to me and when I asked him if I could handle his social media, he immediately agreed. That’s where my journey began.”
In their stint at marketing, Venkatesh and Mahesh handled over 80 pages. The likes of PC Sreeram, BOFTA, Pooja Devariya have all benefited from their expertise.
But even through all this, their main aim was to enter the world of cinema. Both Venkatesh and Mahesh’s fathers were in journalism. As young kids, they were frequent visitors to film related events. Venkatesh recalls that the first time he saw a press show, he was in the second standard. “It was some magic kind of movie. It was different experience to see the actors onscreen sit next to me,” he says.
For Mahesh, the applause at the end of the show convinced him that one day, he would be on that stage and on the receiving end of the applause. “Applause gives us energy. We always knew that we were going to be on that stage,” he says.
Their upcoming film is a thriller with horror elements. The horror genre has become over used and is effectively on its way out. Both Venkatesh and Mahesh remember telling each other that they would never ever make a horror film. “But this script really brought us to that space. We never thought we would make a horror film because the audience has become tired of it. This script demanded it and I wouldn’t really call it horror, anyway. It is more of a thriller with a social conscience.”
The social message is really important to these young filmmakers who grew up idolising AR Murugadoss. “His films, from Ramana, they really moved me. I love how he packages a social content into a commercial film. The situation in our country is such that the mass medium needs to speak truth to power. We need to state things as they stand. Else we fail in our most basic responsibility,” Venkatesh says.
Their film has a social conscience, Venkatesh explains. “This is an issue that we all experience and know. But we pass it by, reluctant to do anything to resolve it. The Government’s apathy towards it has only made it more prevalent. That is what we focus on in our movie,” he says.
Any and all films they make will be geared towards the audience with an emphasis on social reform, say Venkatesh and Mahesh. “Even today, when I explained about the film and used words like government apathy, some warned me that I could get into trouble. They said that issues could crop up. But we’re not worried. As filmmakers, it is our duty to say what’s right. Like Murugadoss sir. He is our thala.”
Both directors are engineering graduates. This horror film wasn’t meant to be their first as they’d already had a script for a ‘technical’ film ready. “There are a lot of technical loop holes in films these days and it was something I really wanted to address in films. Our background in engineering really helped us when we wrote our first script. That requires a huge budget and we wanted to make it in Kannada. But things didn’t work out. We still have hope that we would get to direct it soon,” says Venkatesh.
Mahat Raghavendra and Yaashika Anand, fresh off their Bigg Boss fame, come with a lot of expectations. This is their first film together. There are a lot of stereotypical expectations of this new film, Venkatesh says. “Yaashika has already done a horror film. So everybody expects something similar from her in this film. We can’t expect them to change their talent. They are trained actors who know what to do and we are very happy with that. We want to change the perceptions of the audience and we have a strategy for that,” Venkatesh says.
The untitled film will be made in Kannada as well. Co-director Sashikanth is helping the young duo with the translation. “Since our movie will be shot in Bengaluru, we thought that it would be ideal for us to make it in Kannada as well.”
Plans are on to bring in a popular Kannada star to essay a guest role.
While the anti-Tamil sentiment has lessened in the last few weeks, it could still pose an issue for the project. But the filmmaker duo are prepared for any trouble. “We are in touch with Government authorities in Karnataka and the office of the Chief Minister. While we don’t anticipate any trouble, we are still prepared.”
The first look for the film, unveiling the title, is expected by end of December this year. The film team hopes to release the movie by April 2019.