Raj and DK have always been known for directing/producing out-of-the-box films/series like Go Goan Gone, Shor In The City, Stree and The Family Man. Cinema Bandi, Raj-DK’s first foray into Telugu filmmaking, has turned out to be an experience way beyond anything they, or we, expected.
Raj sounds understandably happy at the turn of events. “Cinema Bandi was an idea that (director) Praveen Kandregula and (writer) Vasanth Maringanti came to DK and me with at the Cinema Bazaar. At that point of time there was no script. But they had prepared a booklet with their concept.”
Raj and DK were impressed, both by the concept and its presentation. Recalls Raj, “When we had gone to our producers with the idea of our first film 99 we had made a comicbook of our concept. So Praveen and Vasanth’s notebook made sense to us. We liked their concept of two villagers finding a sophisticated film camera and deciding on making a film themselves. We told Praveen and Vansanth to work on the full script, keeping in mind that we wanted the end-product to be raw real and innocent.”
The first draft of the script needed work.
Says Raj, “We took Praveen and Vasanth through script workshops. Made sure that the writing was absolutely topnotch.We then got them a really sophisticated camera—far more sophisticated than the camera that the two protagonists in Cinema Bandi find, ha ha—accompanied them to the village where the film was shot , settled them in and then left them to make the film that they wanted.”
The local villagers were co-operation personified. “They not only made our cast and crew feel welcome, but many of them played roles in the film,” smiles Raj. The first cut of Cinema Bandi which came to Raj and DK was way too long. “It was almost four hours of footage. We had to shorten it, edit it down to about 90 minutes of final playing-time and then gave it to Netflix. The response has been far beyond anything we expected. We’re sure that if released in theatres Cinema Bandi would have been a box office success. Telugu audiences like seeing an out-of-box films with talented youngsters at the helm, once in a while.”
Raj says a Telugu film had been on the anvil for Raj and DK for some time. “We wanted to do something in Telugu. We thought of doing a film with the established young brigade. But then we decided on this. And we are glad.”
And now Praveen Kandregula and Vasanth Maringanti are making another film for Raj and DK who are known to nurture new talent like Amar Kaushik who directed the superhit Stree for producers Raj and DK. Says Raj, “Please understand we are not a film studio. We don’t produce films as a lucrative stand-alone business. The idea it to produce interesting innovative films side by side with the films we direct, a sort of extension of what we direct ourselves. In that endeavour Cinema Bandi has worked out swimmingly for us.”
Also Read: Raj and DK share a BTS picture of Samantha Akkineni as Raji from the sets of The Family Man 2