Debutant director Kiran Reddy is gearing up for the release of 'Gatham', on November 6, on Amazon Prime Video. Ahead of the release of the psychological thriller, starring Bhargava Poludasu, Rakesh Galebhe and Poojitha Kuraparthi, Ragalahari spoke to the promising talent to know how his journey started, what to expect from 'Gatham', his struggles and more.
My roots are in Guntur, but I was brought up and had my schooling and college education in Telangana. I came to the US in 2012 to pursue Masters. I started exploring filmmaking only after coming to America. What started out as a passion resulted in me making 'Gatham'.
Real challenges in making 'Gatham'
With some projects, real problems are encountered only when your project goes on set. I had all the experience only with short films before 'Gatham'. On Day 1, we had to stall the shoot due to teething problems! There is so much of crew involved. I and my friend Harsha Prathap have been creative partners. He is a workaholic who shies away from publicity. Without him, 'Gatham' wouldn't have been possible.
The blessing called OTT
One has to prove oneself in the film industry for others to start believing in you. We are in a unique situation (pandemic). Any content that appeals to the audience on OTT would help. We now have an opportunity to explore and experiment. You can take fate into your hands and create novel content.
Had it been a theatrical release, we would have managed to get only a small release. Because of Amazon Prime, our film is going to reach audiences in 200 countries.
Premise of 'Gatham'
This is a psychological thriller in which a key male character regains consciousness after being in a comatose stage for a prolonged period. He has got a million questions in mind, but has got no answers. He goes searching for answers, which is when he comes across another character. What follows next is the crux of 'Gatham'.
Most of the actors in the movie are Telugu-speaking guys who have been living in the US. I have heard that producers are seeking dubbing rights. I have to see how far it will go.
A fan of the genre
I am a fan of dark psychological thrillers. Hollywood makes a lot of them. I have been influenced by them. It's not easy to impress the audience with the genre unless you have very good performances and visuals. Everything has to fall into place.
Workshops helped us big-time
Since all the actors are new, we did workshops. Every scene was enacted, recorded, edited and a lot of brainstorming was done before we took the film on the sets. That made my job easy. There were challenges but the pre-production works helped a great deal.
Choosing the right locations
Locations play a key role in the story. As you would have noticed in the trailer, two characters are trapped. You can generate a sense of fear and trauma only when you choose appropriate locations for such a story. So, I zeroed in on a snow-capped jungle. This is an unexplored visual backdrop in Telugu cinema.
Sricharan Pakala's superb background score
Sound design and mixing play a key role when it comes to thrillers. Sricharan Pakala has given a stunning background score. He is a huge plus. He came on board because he wanted to encourage us youngsters and also loved the story. He has worked on 'Kshanam', 'Goodachari' and 'Evaru', among others, in the past. Hollywood technicians who have worked on our movie need extra credit because they know the ambience and sounds of the surroundings in the US. There are no songs in the movie, as there is no need for the subject.
One year of story development
Five years ago, we made a short film presenting the crucial idea of 'Gatham'. Harish Shankar garu watched it and appreciated it. He encouraged me saying I will become a filmmaker one day if I persist. I worked on the script for one year, adding layers, sub-plots, etc., to the base plot. By the time the pandemic struck the world, production works were completed. Post-production works were carried out in a work-from-home set-up.
A crew that was like a family
We faced a number of challenges during the making. Our will power kept us going. On 'Gatham', only a small crew was involved. More than a crew, they were like my family. We all would do everything on our own, like family members. Given budgetary constraints, we couldn't have afforded a big screw.
Admiring Rajamouli, Tharun Bhascker
I admire Tharun Bhascker's writing and films. SS Rajamouli garu is also a big inspiration because of his perfectionist streak. He works non-stop and when we are tired, we get inspired by him and push ourselves. I have got a few stories in mind. Story development will depend on the cast.