Interview: Priyadarshi dissects and reflects on the success of ‘Balagam’

The 33 YO observed that people are encouraging rooted stories that are unusually different and that tell larger philosophies in simplistic terms.

ByY Sunita

Published Apr 03, 2023 | 12:17 PMUpdatedAug 18, 2023 | 4:01 PM

priyadarshi balagam

In Balagam, when the patriarch of the family dies, the crow refuses to partake of the food made for the 13th-day ritual. It eats only when the sparring family members unite, signifying the soul has departed.

Priyadarshi Pulikonda, the lead actor in the blockbuster film Balagam, is basking in the limelight and is gratified for taking up the role. He told South First that he wants to believe many of the stories now.

While growing up he was a believer in sciences and logic, “Every time I hear something like this, I want to pause and bring back that faith.”

Some films get critical acclaim but fall short of box office success. Priyadarshi has been a part of many films that tasted both.

A poster of Balagam movie

A poster of ‘Balagam’ movie. (priyadarshi_i/Twitter)

“True, post-Balagam, people come and share their experience and thank me. I don’t understand when people say their lives changed after watching the film. I have been fortunate to be in a space where the audience has evolved,” the actor said.

“Long back we would envy other language films, and wonder why we don’t bring slice-of-a-life stories onscreen.

Over some time, the audience is appreciating such content in Telugu. It is a very good mix now, some producers want to empower such writers,” he observed.

Priyadarshi cited the example of director Srikanth Odela, a newcomer whose recent hit Dasara is winning acclaim.

“Dasara is a big-budget, high-octane, full-of-testosterone film and has a star actor (Nani). It is a synergy between a writer and a producer. If you take a story and go to a producer, he understands its potential and thinks like a half-filmmaker,” the 33-year-old noted.

Related: Priyadarshi selfishly wants to be part of every format of story-telling

He felt that the combination of such producers and writers who believe that people will watch such movies is working big time in the industry now. “People are encouraging rooted stories that are unusually different and that tell larger philosophies in simplistic terms.”

He also believes that we can woo audiences cutting across age, region, culture and sensibilities.

Village sarpanches sponsoring Balagam shows

About the stunning box office collections that Balagam has made, Priyadarshi said: “The Telugu cinema is having another glorious moment. I credit writers, producers and directors, followed by the audience.”

cast and crew of balagam film

Cast and crew of ‘Balagam’ film. (priyadarshi_i/Twitter)

“Producers like Dil Raju believe that a story like Balagam will survive, might not clock great numbers at the BO but will make business on OTT. The younger generation producers like Harshith or Hanshita feel that it is a prerequisite that you make a good film. How you sell it matters next, you get the views and money even on YouTube,” he elucidated.

Always sitting at a death place might not be entertaining. What emboldened the producer to fund the film? The actor reminds us that in our culture, we make it a point to attend funerals.

Related: Lyricist Kasarla Shyam on his work in Balagam movie

“People might think twice to go for a celebration but they go out of their way to see the departed. Here, you also meet family after a long time. Director Venu took the idea and wrote the story of a family united by death,” the actor explained.

Balagam is doing well in Sircilla, Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Adilabad, and the village sarpanches are sponsoring the shows. “It has become a community experience to sit down, watch, see yourself represented and celebrate cultural identities. The idea of appealing to the masses is in their language.”

Balagam recently won two Los Angeles Cinematography Awards in the Best Cinematography and Best Feature Film categories in the USA. It also bagged Best Drama Feature Film at ONYKO Film Awards in Ukraine.

The movie also clinched four Washington DC International Cinema Festival Awards in the Best Feature Director, Best Actor in a Feature, Best Actress in a Feature, and Best Narrative Feature categories.

Priyadarshi’s previous works

The actor lists out the films that stood as a milestone in his career.

While one dialogue in Pelli Choopulu introduced him to movie aficionados, Jai Lava Kusa gave him a lot of visibility. Till then, people remarked Priyadarshi was doing movies that were extensions of short films.

Next, MCA and Unnadi Okkate Zindagi made him popular as the lead actors were rooted in the masses. AWE and Mallesam gave him a great chance to reinvent himself.

Related: Balagam changed me as a person, says Venu Yeldandi

While Loser helped him rediscover himself as an actor, he considers Oke Oka Jeevitham to be an endearing and personal film. Mail on Aha platform is a slice-of-a-life film and Jathi Ratnalu is a laugh riot.

On change in consumption of content

Priyadarshi noted that the consumption of media and entertainment after the advent of OTT has changed.

actor priyadarshi

Actor Priyadarshi. (priyadarshi_i/Twitter)

“I have to take complete consigning of what is entertainment. For 17-year-olds, it is watching reels. Even 55-year-olds are watching YouTube shorts and there are instant laughs. They are watching shorts in a dark theatre while watching the cinema. That is because they don’t like the content,” the actor pointed out.

“The whole idea of entertainment consumption has changed everything. The audience has complete control of what they want to watch, when, where and why. It would have happened but due to Covid, it had advanced.”

Priyadarshi will be next seen in 35 – Chinna Katha Kadu where he plays a Maths teacher born and brought up in Tirupati.

Next is Suyodhana, a crime thriller. It is in post-production.

Save The Tigers will be coming next month on Disney+ Hotstar. Then there is Ram Charan-Shankar’s film, too.