Promising Telugu directors who found their calling during pandemic have come a long way

Filmmakers like Vinod Anantoju, Praveen Kandregula, and Uday Gurrala made heads turn with their fresh content and execution.

ByY Sunita

Published Apr 24, 2023 | 4:35 PMUpdatedAug 18, 2023 | 3:07 PM

emerging Telugu directors

Call it hard work or serendipity, around eight directors from the Telugu film industry stood tall during the first and second waves of the pandemic.

Among the plenty of films from other languages that were streamed on different platforms, the projects of these Telugu directors were appreciated for their fresh content and execution style.

Are they one film wonder directors? What are they up to now? Have they managed to impress the next-level actors with their stories? Do they now have easy access to meet producers? Let’s check:

Vinod Anantoju

Middle Class Melodies movie

A poster of ‘Middle Class Melodies’. (Twitter)

Middle Class Melodies (2020) director Vinod Anantoju has three projects in the pipeline that includes a web series. But he has no idea when they would be streamlined.

About his upcoming projects, Vinod Anantoju said: “The dates of the actors are jumbled and every actor has two-three films in the pipeline. Even if we approach them with a story, they may change their plans according to the changing trends and requirements.”

He noted that it used to take at least two-three years for the trend to change. “But now, they are changing almost every six months. If the hero postpones a movie, the producer has no solution,” he pointed out.

Praveen Kandregula

Meanwhile, Cinema Bandi (Movie Cart, 2021) director Praveen Kandregula seems relaxed and in no hurry. He is confident that he has a winner on his hands.

Praveen Kandregula initially wanted to make a film with a mid-range hero but that didn’t take off. We now hear that the filmmaker is greenlighting his next project in June.

It is a travel movie with three women. “I narrated the story to many actors. It is easy to cast a new actor. But for a star to give their approval, it takes a lot of time,” he observed.

Cinema Bandi

A poster of ‘Cinema Bandi’. (Twitter)

Regarding the economics of filmmaking, Praveen noted that star value is important to draw the audience to the theatres. Also, the producer needs the confidence to invest money in the film or sell it. “It is purely business!”

Is this why he chose to do a heroine-centric film? “I’m not doing a heroine-centric movie because I didn’t get dates with heroes. Even heroines are in high demand these days. This is a Telugu film but will be dubbed into Malayalam,” he clarified.

During the pandemic, the OTT platforms craved varied content and paid handsome money. But now, since there is excess content, they are insisting on doing business only after the film finishes a stipulated theatrical run.

Also, if a movie is about to hit the theatres, there will be promotions/publicity by the production house. But, if a film is released directly on OTT, there won’t be any buzz; the actors won’t come again unless it is a Prime Original or a Netflix original.

The ball will be in the OTT’s court if a film fails to do well in the theatres; it will get less price.

“If released in theatres now, Cinema Bandi won’t be taken by the OTT platforms,” Praveen Kandregula shrugged.

Uday Gurrala

Kambalapally Kathalu Chapter 1 Mail

A poster of ‘Kambalapally Kathalu: Chapter 1 Mail’. (Twitter)

Uday Gurrala’s Mail (also marketed as Kambalapally Kathalu Chapter 1: Mail, 2021) got a good buzz.

The director, who is also a cinematographer, asserted that they are as good as the last film and have to prove themselves every time. They have to go through the rigmarole of starting a second film all over again.

Uday also spoke about the difficulties he faced to make his directorial debut.

“I was a cinematographer for 24 Kisses (2018). I decided to direct a film and wrote a story (Mail). When I approached producers, they said it won’t work as the story needed newcomers,” he recalled.

Even when Uday Gurrala declared that he would finish the film within a shoestring budget of ₹80 lakh, none evinced interest in investing in a script which they believed won’t work.

Krishna and his Leela film

A poster of ‘Krishna and his Leela’. (IMDB)

“I spent three years on the project and had to quit six films I was offered (for cinematography). I mailed the script to Swapna Dutt. A year later, the script consultant approved it and I was called for narrations,” he explained.

Mail starred Priyadarshi, and debutants Harshith Malgireddy, Mani Aegurla and Gouri Priya Reddy in key roles. It won critical acclaim for its content and subtle performances.

Later, Uday Gurrala directed one episode of Modern Love Hyderabad (2022) which was produced by Nagesh Kukunoor. He is the cinematographer and production designer for Brahmaji’s upcoming flick Hangman (2023).

Now, the filmmaker is working on a script for Kambalapally Kathalu Chapter 2. It isn’t a sequel to Mail though.

Other young talents

Color Photo telugu movie poster

A poster of ‘Color Photo’. (Twitter)

Srikanth Nagoti is coming up with Month of Madhu starring Naveen Chandra and Swathi.

His Bhanumati & Ramakrishna (2020) won rave reviews and so did Ravikanth Perepu’s Krishna and His Leela (2020). Ravikanth is now launching Roshan Kanakala (anchor Suma’s son) as an actor.

Vijay Kanakamedala’s Ugram (2023) is up for release in May. He wowed critics with Naandhi (2021) during the pandemic.

While Sandeep Raj’s Colour Photo (2020) fetched the National Award, the director is now reportedly being funded by a big banner for his next project that features Sharwanand and Ravi Teja in lead roles.

Well, from waiting for a producer to picking up their phone calls and bagging big films, debutant directors seem to have come a long way!