Telugu Interviews

Ani Kanneganti Interview: We’ve Taken Neram To The Next Level With Run

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neram-runDirector Ani Kanneganti, or Anil, as he’s popularly known, was supposed to work on two projects since his 2012 directorial debut, Mr. Nookayya. One of the projects was supposed to be with a leading Telugu star, and the story had a political backdrop. Unfortunately, both the films never took off.

“I lost nearly two years trying to take these projects on to the floors. Hence, the long delay,” Anil explains when I ask him about the long gap between his first film and his latest outing, Run, which has released worldwide in cinemas on Wednesday.

Run, a Telugu remake of Alphonse Putharen-directed Tamil sleeper-hit Neram, stars Sundeep Kishan and Anisha Ambrose in the titular roles.

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Anil saw Neram a couple of months after it had released in 2013, and immediately felt it was remake-worthy, but he never dwelled on the idea. Nearly two years later, he gets called by producer Anil Sunkara, who offers him a project to direct and it turns out to be Neram. “They showed me the film and asked me if I’d like to direct it. I had loved Neram, and this was an opportunity I couldn’t let go of”. And when he learnt that Sundeep was chosen to reprise Nivin Pauly’s role, he was even happier. “Soon after Sundeep’s Prasthanam (2010), we were supposed to work together, but things never fell in place and the project was eventually scrapped. However, both of us were excited to join hands for Run, and that was my morale booster.”

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According to Anil, Run is a faithful remake of its original, with a few minor additions. “When you’re working on a remake, it’s really important that the soul is not tampered, and the soul of Neram is very unique; it’s about time and its role in our lives. Apart from the regional differences, there wasn’t much to change in Run.” Emphasizing that by staying faithful to Neram, and by making minor changes, they managed to take the original content to the next level.

The film marks the Telugu debut of National award-winning actor Bobby Simhaa, who reprises his own role of Vatti Raja from Neram. The makers had no choice but to go for Bobby because they couldn’t find anyone who could do justice to his role. “We tried a few actors but nobody could match the original performance. At the back of my mind, I wanted to approach Bobby, but wasn’t sure if he’d be interested to play the role again. When we finally decided to go ahead with him, it wasn’t easy to get him on board. It took a while to get in touch with him and luckily, he was thrilled to be part of the project,” said Anil, adding that Simhaa was like a pillar to the whole project and brought new level of energy when he joined the sets. When asked about the experience of working with the Jigarthanda actor, the director said, “It was a pleasure to work with Bobby who, no matter how difficult a shot is, will get it right in a single take. The kind of energy and enthusiasm he brought to the sets made by job so easy, sometimes even inspired me to work harder.” For his role, Simhaa had dubbed in his own voice, and it was Anil who suggested him to go behind the microphone. “We learnt that he has roots in Vijayawada, where he had studied till class 10. Since he wasn’t totally alien to the language, we decided to make him dub in Telugu. Though he struggled initially, he picked up quickly.”

Although Anil didn’t have to consult with Alphonse while working on the project, he sought Bobby’s help to show both Alphonse and Nivin some rushes of Run. “They were excited with the product, with what they saw. Both of them were supposed to attend the audio launch of our film, but they couldn’t due to last minute commitments,” said Anil, heaping praise on Sundeep, whom he thinks was on par with Simhaa in terms of performance. “He’s an energetic actor and unlike the roles he’s done so far, this time he was expected to perform subtly.”

Anil hasn’t scrapped the story he had planned with a leading star. He plans to work on it next and will try his best to rope in a star, because the story has the scope for a popular actor. “It needs to be made on a large canvas, so it will take time,” he signs off.

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