Director Mahi V Raghav on Wednesday announced his next big project, which has been titled Yatra. The film will tell the story of one of the most influential political figures in India, Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, popularly known as YSR Reddy. And Mahi has roped in Malayalam superstar Mammootty to play the role of YSR Reddy in the Telugu film.
“I grew up watching his (Mammootty) films,” Mahi told Indianexpress.com when asked to explain the reason behind choosing Mammukka. “Keeping that aside, in the context of YSR, YSR was perceived to be a strong and courageous leader. To portray his character, we needed someone who can get in that aura of a leader who we can look up to. I have seen a lot of his films and I thought Mammukka doesn’t have to put in a lot of effort to pull off something like this.”
“With the kind of narrative what we’ve picked, it is more of a human drama, a leader who was so loved by the people and what he could inspire, I thought Mammukka was the right person to do it,” he added.
Mahi feels that Mammootty’s screen presence alone lifts up a scene to a different level. He even gave us an example from the iconic movie Thalapathy, where Mammootty fills up the screen space, which is also occupied by Rajinikanth. “Rajini sir has most of the dialogues and everything in the scene,” Mahi is referring to the scene at the collector’s office.
“(In the end of the scene) Mammootty sir gets up and say what do you want? Arvind Swamy, replies ‘stop everything’ and he says one-word ‘mudiyathu’ (I can’t). In that very scene, when he walks away, you walk away with this man. You forget about all other people and what they are saying and everything,” he said elaborating the kind of charisma he wanted in an actor to play YSR Reddy on screen.
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Mahi’s previous film was a horror-comedy Anando Brahma, which came out last year.
Yatra will be made in Telugu and dubbing into Tamil is on the mind of the filmmakers. Mahi believes that Yatra will transcend the language barriers as it is a “universal film.” “It about a leader who went on a journey. And the subplots are very human about a farmer and a healthcare professional, which anyone can relate to.”
Mahi is also in awe of Mammootty’s command over the Telugu language and confirmed that the Malayalam superstar will dub his own lines in Telugu.
YSR Reddy studied MBBS and briefly served as a Medical Officer at the Jammalamadugu Mission Hospital before he took his political plunge in the late 1970s. He is still celebrated for his work in the field of healthcare. In 2009, he died in a chopper crash.
“The film won’t be bashing any political parties. It will capture the soul and spirit of YSR’s character and what happened in his journey. It is not necessary when you make a political film, you make the opponents the antagonist. It will be a positive story and a celebration of his character,” added Mahi.
Yatra will go on the floors in June and shooting will mainly take place in Hyderabad and parts of Andhra Pradesh. The filmmakers have plans to release the film in December or early January.