Director Gowtam Tinnanuri is basking in the success of his latest release Jersey. The Nani starrer has been receiving an overwhelming response from the audience and celebrities. The director spoke to indianexpress.com about the experience of working on the sports drama.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Q. What do you have to say about the success of Jersey?
I am a bit relieved. Filmmaking is a responsibility as so many people are involved in it. So, I am happy that everyone is happy.
Q. After making your directorial debut with a film like Malli Raava, what inspired you to take up Jersey?
I have been writing scripts for a long time now. There are a couple of scripts I am working on even now. So, picking Jersey after Malli Raava was just a choice. There was no other intention behind it.
Malli Raava was a safe subject. I thought, no one would trust me if I will come up with a script like Jersey for my directorial debut. And of course, Malli Raava was a bit easy on the technical aspect as well. So, I thought it would make sense to start my directorial career with that project.
As far as Jersey is concerned, I was always drawn towards it. When you write the script, you travel with the protagonist. I got more emotionally involved in it and grew close to the script of this film.
Q. Did you have any personal experience like what the protagonist faces in Jersey?
My personal life is opposite to what Arjun experiences in the film. I took instances from different people’s life for Jersey. So, it is not based on someone’s life entirely.
Q. The film maintains a fine balance between fiction and reality. How did you manage to achieve that? What attention did you pay while drafting Arjun’s character?
I did not put an emotional scene just to make the audience cry or anything else. In my view, it is an achievement if the audience connects to the protagonist’s emotions and travels with him/her throughout the film.
After Malli Raava, I went to Mumbai to learn screenplay writing. There I observed that there is a lot of difference in how Hollywood and Tollywood approach a script. In Hollywood, they have a very defined process for their characters. They have everything sorted – from what should happen in the first 10 minutes to what should happen in the next half an hour of a film. Of course, we have had directors such as K Vishwanath and Dasari Narayana Rao and others who have followed the same pattern, but you don’t learn until you work under them. So, I followed the same process of story writing in Jersey.
Q. Was there a reason behind choosing Nani as Arjun?
Nani is a terrific actor and I had the confidence that he is one such actor who would give a shot to an out-of-the-box character and story. I also had a small fear of approaching other actors with Jersey’s story because it is not the universally accepted template and sometimes, it may not even look commercially viable. I don’t blame them because everyone has their own ideas about films they want to work in. So, even for this film, I approached everyone with a bit of hesitation but it vanished within half an hour of narration as everyone liked the story.
Nani has performed more than what I expected from him. Moreover, Arjun’s character has fewer dialogues. The character has to communicate with his eyes and in silence for the most part of it. So, Nani as Arjun is terrific.
Q. The audience got emotional in the scene where Nani cried his eyes out at the railway station. What was the thought behind the scene?
I had goosebumps when I experienced people’s reaction to this scene. Normally, we tend to scream in extreme anger and we laugh when we are extremely happy. But sometimes, we cry because we are happy and that is the one contrasting emotion we wanted to shoot.
In the scene, Arjun is in a position where he cannot express his achievement to others and has no one to share his happiness. He has to express and share it with himself only.
Before shooting the scene, I briefed Nani about how we wanted the scene to look like. After the briefing, I wanted him to do a mock shoot as we did not have much time. But Nani was ready and confident enough to do it without any rehearsals. As soon as the train came in and Nani performed the scene, all of us on the set reacted just the way the audience reacted in the theater. Even Nani got a bit teary-eyed after the scene.