The success of ‘Pushpa: The Rise’ in Hindi markets has come as a bit of revelation to the movie’s director Sukumar who admits he had cold feet about doing a movie for audiences above the Vindhyas.
After seeing the movie’s performance in the Hindi markets, Sukumar is now mentally prepared to wield the megaphone for more Hindi movies.
Interestingly, it was ace director S.S. Rajamouli of ‘Bahubali’ fame, who helped Sukumar break through his hesitation.
“I felt that audiences may watch south-based movies on satellite channels or YouTube, but I didn’t feel Hindi audiences would come to movie theatres to watch the movie. Then somehow Rajamouli garu came to know and he called me. You have a good package. I know your story. Definitely it will work. Pitch the movie, we’ll see what happens. He said that. Then I said ok,” Sukumar recalls.
Shooting for the movie began in March 2020, but had to be shelved due to the lockdown on account of Covid. The shooting resumed in December, but with almost the entire crew affected by Covid, production again came to a halt and continued in spurts and bursts.
Sukumar feels that the wholesome package of ‘Pushpa: The Rise’ has given it traction to withstand other big-ticket releases such as ’83’.
“I want to give full entertainment. All the emotions – fun, love, fights, everything. We call it commercial movie because we have to grab all audiences with that. When we write a commercial story, the director should feel like a superhuman. Because if you see Hollywood movies, love story is love story, thriller is thriller, horror is horror. They don’t mix two genres. Here 5-6 genres are mixing and giving an element, it should look like one. So that’s a big exercise when writing a story. So that’s what I think grabbed the audience,” he explains.
For Sukumar, the idea of a two-part movie was never in the works initially. It was only during the editing stage that he decided to go for a second part.
“Around the time we were editing this this movie, ‘Bahubali 2’ and ‘KGF’ were playing. We started our editing in between these movies. There was the pandemic when I started editing. I felt it’s too long and we can’t have the story for such a long duration. By then even the film producers gained confidence after seeing ‘Bahubali 2’ and ‘KGF’. ‘Pushpa’ in two instalments was an afterthought.”
The movie springs another surprise with cinematography executed by Miroslaw Kuba Brozek of Poland. With his regular cinematographer Ratnavelu busy on other projects, Sukumar cast his eye wider, partly because other cinematographers were also busy, and partly because he wanted a new set of eyes to look at the distinctly rural and rustic cinematic canvas he was spreading out for ‘Pushpa: The Rise’. But with the two of them not fluent in English, sign language it was between them on sets.
“He’s from Poland. He doesn’t even know English. I don’t speak English. We communicate through sign language. He doesn’t speak English properly, I don’t. Somehow we coordinated and he’s an amazing cinematographer. He doesn’t speak Telugu, when the scene is behind, he doesn’t know length of the scene also. But his grasp is like that. Instinct.”
Shooting for ‘Pushpa: The Rule’ is slated to begin in March this year, Sukumar signed off.