Although Telugu filmmaking has grown into prominent industry of commercial significance, the screen trade is relatively an unknown craft and a risky affair for many. Yet, the new bunch of independent female producers in Telugu cinema is breaking the path, of late. From devising a business plan to tracking costs, working out logistics and casting process, these female producers are giving established filmmakers a run for their money with adept planning and execution.
Among the new lot, Radhika Lavu, an alumnus of St Francis College in the city, feels that a producer needs to have certain qualities to really excel in the field. After her post-graduation in Filmmaking from Goldsmiths, University of London, Radhika happened to work with Government of Andhra Pradesh as audio-visual head of Health Management & Research Institute where she had shot over 200 documentaries.
Later, she ventured into independent filmmaking, producing advertisements and corporate films. “I also worked with Annapurna Studios. Gaining knowledge in film production and understanding practically the nuances of production, I am now producing independent commercial Telugu project, a web series titled God, a period political drama set in 1960s and ’70s. The web series is based on the theory of God complex and how a zamindar in a fictitious mining town in Dharmapuri has a stronghold of the region,” says Radhika.
As a working producer, Radhika feels that it is important to have pre-production and planning before going on to the sets. “My responsibility is to ensure smooth functioning of work in terms of logistics and creative team building. The team should be extremely motivated. I also make contingency plans in case of inclement weather conditions during shoots,” Radhika says.
Sunitha Thati, on the other hand, has worked as assistant director and executive producer for several films before making it big with the recent Korean remake Oh! Baby starring Samantha and veteran actor Lakshmi. A graduate from New York Film Academy – School of Film and Acting (NYFA), Sunitha has started her career as assistant director for Venkatesh-starrer Jayam Manadera.
Later, she went on to produce Bangaru Kodipetta featuring Swathi in the lead role. Courier Boy Kalyan and Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo were among some of her other films. “A producer is someone who understands the potential of a story and carefully selects a director who fits the bill. Every story has its own value. There is no necessity to invest more in the said story,” she feels.
After trying things at various levels in film production, Sunitha looks for an entertainment element in a story rather than going idealistic. Sunitha says she is also planning two more remakes of Korean movies. A web series for Netflix Original is also being planned under her home banner Guru Media Works in Hollywood. And she has plans to make a movie adaptation of the novel — The Arrangements of Love, authored by Timeri N Murari.
Geetha Golla was introduced to the industry with the Nani-starrer romantic flick Majnu. After dabbling in several departments of camera production and a brief stint as the CEO of Sakshi television channel, Geetha is now producing a web series titled Red String which is based on a true story. Geetha was also the casting head of Ashta Chamma and Uyyala Jampala.
While these producers belong to non-filmy families, there are those who are taking the mantle of their legacy ahead. Supriya Yarlagadda is a familiar face among established producers in Telugu cinema. Niece of Akkineni Nagarjuna, Supriya had started her journey way back in 1996 with Akkada Ammayi Ikkada Abbai starring opposite Powerstar Pawan Kalyan. Priyanka Dutt and Swapna Dutt too have carved a niche for themselves. The female duo co-handle Vyjayanthi Movies and their last movie was Mahanati, the biopic of legendary actor Savitri, which has set a new trend in Telugu moviemaking.