Saturday, May 25, 2024

‘Satisfaction is a word used post-retirement; I am not giving up on screenwriting’

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BVS Ravi, one of the most celebrated screenwriters of Tollywood who gave some blockbuster scripts like Rana Naidu and Devudu Chesina Manushulu, is back with another enthralling story, Sarvam Shakthi Mayam, through which he wants to give the audience the darshan of 18 maha Shakti peeth while sitting on their seats. He spoke to The Pioneer about his upcoming project, screenwriting as a career, and more.

SHIKHA DUGGAL

BVS Ravi is one of those accepted screenwriters who honestly knows how to show the Telugu culture and more in many forms through his screenplays. But when in conversation with the oracle of so many blockbuster scripts, such as Rana Naidu or Devudu Chesina Manushulu, we could see his depiction of illusions. If he has done a Sarvam Shakthi Mayam, he didn’t repress himself from making a polar opposite talk show with Nandamuri Balakrishna either. So, let’s begin this in-depth conversation without any more pauses or delays. “Our cultural heritage and whatever knowledge passing to us generation by generation, is a little-known fact that it is actually based on questions and answers. That cross-questioning has actually transformed us! On the basis of the former, that’s how the upanishads and vedas are formed. So when writing a series like Sarvam Shakthi Mayam or any other culturally rooted film for Tollywood, my inspiration comes from here. I wanted to do something different this time, so I prepared a character who is a seeker by himself! I was looking for an actor who is a non-believer, somebody who is not religious but enlightened.” But Sameer Soni is playing the role of an atheist writer, and in reality, he is not a non-theist. He’s highly psychic in his own world, he said.

Talking about how he got his lead cast on board, the writer informed us, “It was a spiritual coincidence with my actors. I didn’t know much about Sameer Soni. When I was in conversation with him, I realised his inclination towards incorporeal reality. In the middle of our conversation, for some reason, he stops me and says, “What a pleasant coincidence, sir, that I am already writing a book on intangible aspects of ourselves”. Another luck-by-chance moment was when I called the actor Sanjay Suri. At first, he didn’t answer my call, but when he called back, I realised that he was already meditating. In the beginning, Priyamani actually declined the offer because she was so busy. Somehow I convinced her because I couldn’t visualise anybody else other than Priyamani.”

Going ahead in the palpable chat, he shared, “I am still not satisfied with my career graph. Satisfaction is the word we use when we use post-retirement. I am not retiring anytime soon from this film industry. I am being succumbed here before the time of 2011—I experienced success; some films flopped, but I continued to write. And I write in such a way that generational loss is less. In the last few years, I felt a little incomplete, so I tried diversity in my content writing. I began writing a talk show, then I quickly jumped into a film like Rana Naidu, where so many cuss words are being used, and now a show like Sarvam Shakthi Mayam, pure godliness. This is joy for me! I have stopped relying upon commercial success nowadays.”

Even as a screen-space master, does he still find his job so laborious? We wonder! So, he responded with awareness, “We had to cover 18 maha Shakti peeth till Sri Lanka, and the story was cactus-motivated. Surprisingly, this time the technicians and the actors I got were all very adventurous. This pilgrimage drove us crazy! My main moto from the screenwriting was to help the audience get a darshan from their seats. This was not at all a simple shoot. If you know the insights behind any other movie being shot in Tollywood, they have at least 5 to 6 production managers, and till now, no series has dinner travel like this. After every 2 days, we changed cities. Languages were changing, my god. Producer Kaumudi, production manager Madhusudan, and co-director and casting director Rajkumar were the pillars of this show. The latter found local artists in every city—incredible! I still remember we were sitting in Hyderabad, and I heard him sourcing talents somewhere in Assam. I am the creator; I had given away the screenplay, and my job was over. I don’t have to bother about how it’s made now! Then stepped in Hemanth, who is a very famous consultant for Tollywood and Hollywood. He handled all the main actors and made this gigantic show have a happy ending. He’s my best friend!”

Such a clever and bright creator, he continued to speak: “The three main actors lived this show. In fact, the kids! I was apprehensive about casting Ashlesha Thakur, wondering about her connection with a big franchise called Family Man. I heard she gets bored easily on sets, or will she be comfortable at hotel stays because she isn’t getting any five-star treatment? She didn’t throw a single tantrum! She, in fact, comes up to me herself and lets me know that she’ll request her parents to stay back to cut down on the production budget. And she was so comfortable with me. We started from Orissa and ended our schedule in Sri Lanka, in between Kashmir. A lot of shooting equipment was being transported across the country, and only the cameraman took charge of it, including the manpower, voluntarily. Kudos! Then, the aerial shots are a must-see in the show! The archaeological survey of India and the central minister came in so handy, and our very own Jayesh Ranjan ensured all the permissions in every city with the help of his cool connections with IAS and IPS officers across the country. The star cast was so famous in North India, we were getting mobbed everywhere.” A thorough interview, we must say. He thinks he could have made a documentary without any celebrities, but something struck him, and he went on to create a show like this for a streaming giant. He actually didn’t want this interesting take on mythology to get so tedious. That’s when he formed a dysfunctional family and added some atheism too! Then he adds salvation and realisation. He basically wanted to impart our Hindu philosophies in a not-so-dark manner. To ensure this was a reality, he held discussions with priests at every temple as well! On a concluding note, the big question arises: is BVS Ravi a believer or a non-believer? “I am a believer. I believe my craft has always opened the doors of godliness in me. It’s my work that allows me to discover God. God is not coming from puja rooms or temples. It’s within!”

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