Exclusive: ‘Hidimbha’ is a historical fiction; an unexplored genre in India, says director Aneel Kanneganti

"The audience has been divided between theatrical and OTT movies, so I resolved to give them a fresh visual experience," says the young director.

ByY Sunita

Published May 26, 2023 | 1:25 AM Updated Aug 10, 2023 | 4:04 PM

Director Aneel Kanneganti and the 'Hidimba' movie poster. (Supplied)

Director Aneel Krishna Kanneganti’s latest Telugu movie Hidimbha has been wrapped up in a neat, blood-stained bow and is now looking at an appropriate release date.

The story is set against the backdrop of missing people in Hyderabad. Two police officers begin the inquiry and crack the case, but in the process, more people go missing. A noteworthy aspect is that all the victims are girls with one other interesting commonality.

In an exclusive interview with South First, director Aneel says, “The story is rooted in history, just like Kala Pani (1958). The point is new in Indian cinema, but is linked to an incident in 1904. The kidnapper’s history and whereabouts are related to that particular period and it forms the crux of the story.” 

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Aneel Kanneganti’s Hidimbha

Director Anil Krishna on the sets of Hidimbha

Director Aneel Kanneganti on the set of Hidimbha. (Supplied)

The film is touted to have shocking content and television host Omkar’s brother, Ashwin Babu, is the hero. Ashwin also starred in movies like Raju Gari Gadhi (2015) and Naanna Nenu Naa Boyfriends (2016).

It is a historical fiction and an investigative thriller. In mythology, Hidimba Sura (Bheema married his sister) is a rakshasa and the tribe in the film reflects his ideology. The film shooting began before the pandemic and, as such, was completed slowly.

“Since the pandemic, the audience has been divided between theatrical and OTT movies. To attract them, I resolved to provide a fresh visual experience to the audience, at least to the new generation. I did not aim for an A certificate, but the experience is similar to what you got when you watched Apocalypto (2006). Some may find it violent and some may call it artistic. Post-interval, the film will shock you and the experience from it is incredible, if I may say so myself. How deep can you show content on a tribe and in what methodology would be interesting for the audience to witness,” a confident Aneel says.

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Technical aspects

While Hidimbha was shot in Hyderabad, the story shifts to the Kerala forests and, thereafter, to Andaman. 

Cinematographer Rajashekar, who worked on Arya 2 (2009) and Orange (2010), was handpicked by Aneel for his film 2012 film Mr Nokia and once again for Hidimbha

Anil Krishna giving directions on the sets of Hidimbha

Aneel Kanneganti giving directions on the sets of Hidimbha. (Supplied)

Vikas Badisa, who is the main programmer for musician Devi Sri Prasad, scored the music. There are four tracks, which include a break-up song. The first track is in English and Sanskrit, while the others are in Telugu.

Vintage tint, antique sets, authentic costumes, and well-thought-out locations all helped in creating an ambience of the year 1904. “Kala Banda” is a road created in a fictional place where everything is in black, including the costumes worn by the artists. 

Nandita Swetha, Ajay Rathnam, Rajiv Kanakala, Makarand Deshpande, Shibu Menon, and Robin Thirumala (a writer in Kerala), all played significant roles.

 “The biggest challenge was to focus on the subject since the plot has never been touched by any filmmaker in Indian cinema and neither was it influenced by every Friday release. Virupaksha’s success at the box office was a shot in the arm for us because the audience welcomed a mythological fiction,” concludes Aneel Kanneganti.

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