The new year, and a new decade, has just begun. Last year, we saw the potential that Telugu folks have, with shows like High Priestess, Gods Of Dharmapuri and more. And it already looks like a great time for the lovers of Telugu content. The first month hasn’t passed by, and ZEE5 has announced four new shows. Starting with a relationship-drama called Anaganaga, you should save the dates for Chadarangam, Loser and Expiry Date. Let’s not forget, there are many more to come. As Anaganaga premieres tomorrow, we caught up with the director of the series for a chat.
Watch the trailer here:
Hussain Sha Kiran, a noted film writer and director, started his journey by fluke with Sukumar. His contribution to Nannaku Prematho made him a household favourite. Soon, Hussain made his directorial debut with Meeku Meere Maaku Meme. Following its critical acclaim, the filmmaker now makes his digital debut with the upcoming ZEE5 Original web series. In a candid chat, he tells us what prompted him to helm this relationship drama. Read the edited excerpts of the interview here.
The show will be available to a wide audience soon. What’s going on in your mind right now?
I am quite excited and a little nervous, because it’s not very often that we get to see stories like Anaganaga. When such a story does come out, many other stories which are within it are not told. But we chose to tell those tales as well. Now, that is also an experiment we did. Hence, the nervousness. We are hoping to get a positive and good response.
What do you think will stand out for the viewer? Or one thing that will remain with them much longer?
I believe the screenplay is something that will stand out, for sure. As I said, there are multiple stories intertwined with each other. The screenplay is quite complex and interesting at the same time. However, the most fun part of it is the portions that happen in the past. So, the plot goes back and forth throughout. And the music will stand out as well. Anaganaga has love, tragedy, and humour. It also shows the struggle for power, friendship and more. When there are so many emotions to showcase, the only way it could be brought to life is through music. And, our composer, Sweekar Agasthi has given beautiful music to enhance each and every emotion. As far as I remember, he had to compose almost nine to ten different themes for the show.
The story revolves around 11 characters, don’t you think that is dealing with too many people at once?
I don’t really think so! For starters, it is not a two-hour-long feature film. It’s a web series. And also, the characters in the show are connected to everyone, in one way or another. It isn’t like we are telling multiple stories. It is a single story that we are bringing out, with multiple perspectives of different individuals. We’ve asked ourselves the question several times, too, if it would be too much to take it. So, we were careful while penning the story down. And, we figured out a few smooth transitions to keep it as a single piece.
How do you think the show will connect with youngsters?
To me, youngsters are those who are yet to experience a lot of emotions. At least, a good majority of them. But these guys have heard of them emotions and varied experiences. I guess Anaganaga will give them a sneak peek into those emotions. And, I am sure they will enjoy the whole ride.
The trailer also places a lot of emphasis on destiny. What’s your take on it?
In the show, it is destiny that brings all the characters together. It’s about how an act of destiny can give closure to all the characters, after an incident that took place five years ago. Personally, I believe the universe has its ways to keep the balance. We feel the pain to balance out for our mistakes. There is love to balance out for our losses. And most importantly, there is a very strong reason to go on. I hope it doesn’t sound too preachy! I do believe that destiny plays a part (to keep us going). But to me, it’s all about being happy and dealing with things as they come. Give your best, and none of your efforts goes to waste.
Since you have worked on feature films and big-budget projects, how does it feel to work for a web show?
There are plenty of stories out there that I would like to narrate as a storyteller. But there are also various constraints, which make it difficult, if not impossible, to bring it on celluloid. Anaganaga is one such example. It would have been hard for producers or actors to do this, as a film. All thanks to the digital medium, Anaganaga took form.
Do you think it is more liberating as a storyteller to tell stories online?
It surely is liberating. Maybe it doesn’t count every single time. There are stories that can be told with open wings. Having said that, feature films will still always be my first love. However, as I said, there are a few stories that I would do only on the digital platform. For the kind of experiments that I would like to do, and for the tales that I wish to tell, it might not be profitable for the producers.
How do you think a good crew helps in making the show a smooth ride?
Well, it is the team that made the whole journey a joy ride. There is always a lot of stress while filming. However, they made sure I did not face it. Without them, I guess, I would have been a handicap. They are my strength and my energy. The project wouldn’t have been possible without my team, who were always ahead of me. They even made sure that I do not take any hit.
Would you like to give a special mention to anyone, who made the show better?
We have made Anaganaga just like a film. We did not compromise on the quality or the visual representation. My DOP, Nivas had a lot to contribute – with respect to making the series look flawless. I am really thankful to him for everything he has done. I bet he gave me a lot more than what I had bargained for. His pace is top-notch. He will not compromise on the quality even a bit and still, deliver at godspeed. It was also a tough task for the editor, Kiran Ganti garu to put everything in a perspective. In fact, I would say Kiran garu’s contribution is immense – when it comes to making the narrative tight and right at the same time.
Can you tell us about your actors? How did you go about casting them?
Now that’s a long story. 11 stories, to be precise (laughs). Each and every actor was picked very carefully. They had to fit the character description. They had to be versatile with their performance and enacting emotions. Once we found the bunch, what surprised me was, they all came alive on the screen when we shot. And, that is a delight to watch. Through the journey, they knew their characters so well that they would come up with lines and check with me if they could use it. I think, nine out of 10 times, we used their lines. It’s a real joy to see an artiste owning the character and behaving the way it’s written. I even went ahead and added most of their names – in the credit role for dialogues of the series.
Do you have a message to give to youngsters who want to experiment with content creation?
I do, there are a variety of stories that can be told. Be bold and honest with your writing. That’s where all the magic happens. And never shy away from taking your writing ahead. What you have written is the best and there are no two ways about it. Just go ahead and make it!
And on that note, we called it a day. The filmmaker, who has started from scratch, is all game for encouraging new talent. Maybe that is why, we will be seeing many fresh faces in the upcoming ZEE5 original. Anaganaga releases on January 23, 2020. Stay tuned for all the updates and don’t forget to check the hit series, Gods of Dharmapuri, streaming now.