Rakesh Varre, the producer and hero of ‘Evvariki Cheppoddu’, started out by playing a small role in the film ‘Josh’ way back in 2009. After acting in films like ‘Vedam’, ‘Badrinath’, ‘Mirchi’, ‘Baahubali’, and ‘Goodachari’, he has struck gold with ‘Evariki Choppoddu’. A sensible film that offers plenty of laughs and a nice message, this one is doing very well at the box-office. In this interview, catch the talented youngster talk about his journey in the film industry, how the film came to impress Dil Raju, his association with ‘Baahubali’ and more.
What kind of feedback are you receiving for ‘Evvariki Cheppoddu’?
The feedback has been very good. Since our film released on a festival day and it was a Tuesday, we had been a bit skeptical. But, thankfully, the film has been running to packed houses in multiplexes. Single screens are registering 65% occupancy. Mass crowds have come down but the rest of the sections are impressed thoroughly. College students are expected to watch the film in big numbers in the coming days.
How did Dil Raju come to acquire the film?
Dil Raju garu knew that the film will connect with family and youth audiences. More than youths, families are watching in bigger numbers. It was Raju garu who had introduced me in ‘Josh’. I kept in touch with him over the years. This story was first taken to Raju garu. Since time didn’t permit him, he recommended it to some other person. He advised me not to produce the movie myself. But I decided to eventually produce the movie myself because nobody was willing to produce it for two reasons: I am relatively new, and caste is a sensitive issue. But we knew that the treatment is sensible and careful. After the film was made, Raju garu watched the movie and told me the release strategy has to be planned with care.
How do you see caste and how does the film deal with the sensitive subject?
Caste has always been part of my surroundings. Intra-caste marriages, etc are a given. To be frank, I have never cared much about caste. I don’t identify with the identity. Our film doesn’t target any caste. It’s neutral yet open and frank.
How was it possible to make the film on a low budget?
We have made it honestly. For authenticity, we shot the Kalahasthi scenes in Kalahasthi itself. Audience are smart nowadays and they don’t accept fake locations. Given budgetary constraints, I had to rely on my contacts to reduce the costs. For the song shot at the Himalayas, we planned how it can be shot in a short time. We traveled by train and buses and not flights. People in the industry helped me a lot in this regard.
How did this film fall into place?
After ‘Baahubali’, I was determined to make a good film myself. I had been to the New York Film Academy and learned filmmaking there for a year. With knowledge and experience, I became confident to make a film. I then came here and listened to 47 scripts. I looked for performance-oriented roles. I came to know about Basava Shankar, who by then had locked two films. I requested him to keep me in mind. I showed him my showreels. A couple of months later, he came to me with an offer.
Did you always want to be an actor?
I used to admire Chiranjeevi garu, Pawan Kalyan garu, among others, to turn an actor. The Megastar influenced me to become an actor with his movies like ‘Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari’. As years passed, my passion to become an actor grew stronger and stronger. Academics and conventional career choices never excited me.
How did big films like ‘Baahubali’ happen to you?
I don’t come from a film background. I had no clue how to attend auditions, etc. It was a challenge for me and I had to chase roles. Big films were always difficult. I tried for negative roles since no one wanted to cast me as a male lead. Villains are highlighted in our movies. ‘Badrinath’, for example, was a big thing for me. I had sent VV Vinayak garu a short showreel, which impressed him. It stood out amongst all the profiles. For ‘Baahubali’, too, I did a showreel of Ashwatthama from the epic Mahabharatham. I used to do showreels of my martial arts demos and send them to Rajamouli garu through Valli garu and Rama garu. My attempts to work with Rajamouli garu failed for years. After ‘Mirchi’, I went to Rama garu and told her I won’t do any film until ‘Baahubali’ gets completed if I get chosen for a role. That film became a two-part series. Since my look for the films was different, I couldn’t do any other film during those years. I read books related to filmmaking and later went to New York after taking permission from Valli garu.
What did you do after completing ‘Evvariki Cheppoddu’? Did you show it to industry people?
‘Goodachari’ director, ‘Agent Sai Srinivas Athreya’ director, ‘Care Of Kancharapalem’ director, Venky Atluri and others watched the movie. The young directors totally loved the movie but I wanted to show it to Koratala Siva garu and Sukumar garu too. Thankfully, both the directors said the movie is really good. They also said that it will be a hit. They asked me to take steps to ensure that it becomes a blockbuster.
What next for you?
I want to do hero roles provided the roles are challenging. I have not signed any movie so far.
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