'Republic' will be released in theatres on October 1. In this interview, director Deva Katta talks about the film, its ideology, his experiences and learning, working with Sai Dharam Tej, casting Aishwarya Rajesh and Ramya Krishna, the issues with 'Baahubali-The Beginning', and more.
We are so used to be frustrated with the political system. But do we know how one -ism is different from another -ism? We don't. Humans are a part of the larger ecosystem. Society is an interactive element. It's essential that we ought to know the system we are living in. As an educated person who was ashamed of my ignorance, I studied the system at length.
I lived in the US for 15 years and learned about the democratic system there. My experience and learning have taught me that we in India are living with the myth that this is a democratic system. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Checks and balances alone can check dictatorship. A Donald Trump could easily show dictatorial tendencies. How then could democracy survive in the US? It's because of the systemic checks and balances, which alone can ensure a functioning democracy.
A flaw with the public is that they feel happy when the person they vote for turns out to be a dictator. If the common man doesn't understand the danger in this, the repercussions are going to be disastrous. It's from this thinking that 'Republic' was born. My protagonist is a District Collector, who is the focal point for execution. What if he is a pro-life, Socratic bureaucrat? By pro-life, I mean a person who enhances life. 'Republic' is about his actions and thinking.
Sai Dharam Tej is an apolitical individual. When he listened to the story, he was inspired to do the film. He asked me to work only with him. 'Republic' gives solutions, it doesn't just talk about problems.
The CBFC has given no cuts. They felt that my film conveys a deep point in an unbiased, neutral manner.
Caste will melt away if there is economic liberation. Take the film industry, for example. Well-known stars have married out of caste. Caste is a stifling phenomenon.
My film doesn't target anyone individually. 'Republic' talks about political pressures on bureaucracy, but it is just one of the aspects of the story. The common man likes it when his favourite political leader abuses power. A line in the movie calls out the misuse of power by Visakha Vani (Ramya Krishna).
'Republic' is completely my soul. I didn't have to compromise anywhere. It's like I had the fullest freedom of the kind I had while making 'Prasthanam' and 'Vennela'. I made a lot of wrong choices with 'Autonagar Surya'. The film taught me the required lessons. I chose the wrong production house. When you work with the wrong production house, you will become a victim of fake stories against you. 'Dynamite' didn't help either.
Zee Studios owns even the remake rights of 'Republic'. I am waiting for October 1 to release in theatres and see what the makers are going to think.
I have got a library full of stories. There will not be a long gap between 'Republic' and my next movie. There is no comparison between 'Prasthanam' and 'Republic'. The former was about legacy issues and human emotions. None of my films barring 'Republic' are political in nature.
After 'Vennela', nobody trusted me that I will justify a story like 'Prasthanam'. They expected me to do a film mixing comedy and action and score a bigger hit than 'Vennela'.
I roped in Aishwarya Rajesh for 'Republic' after watching the Tamil movie 'Kaka Muttai'. I wanted to work with her at least once. I like to break the mould in terms of how an actor is viewed by the audience.
Casting Ramya Krishna garu happened like an accident. The initial plan was to cast someone like Bharathiraja or some other male veteran filmmaker. After the second draft was over, Sai Dharam Tej said that the film is full of male characters barring Aishwarya Rajesh's. This is when we thought of casting a female actor for the role. Vijayashanthi garu was considered but since she is in politics, I didn't want to cast her because I might have to compromise. Having watched Ramya Krishna garu in 'Baahubali' and 'Narasimha', I felt she will be the best fit.
Pawan Kalyan garu is all heart. He never conceals his views. Whether you oppose him or support him, you have to agree with the fact that he speaks his mind fearlessly. It's fitting that someone like him graced the pre-release event of a movie like ours. Even YCP politicians are going to like our movie if they watch it.
I have spoken out against the feared control of the film industry through an online ticketing portal. I have not criticized the government. I have merely asked some questions. There is no clarity from the government as yet. I would ask the same questions even if I were to meet a Minister. Let's not breed fears. Why fear the government?
We have met Tej in the hospital. He is excited about the film's release. He even watched the pre-release event. He is with us. We want him kept isolated till he fine 100%. Since the pandemic is still there, we want him to be safe. He is recovering and is eating food mildly. It was no small accident. It's fortunate that he has escaped the accident without major injuries.
I want to make a film or web series on the evolution of Chandrababu Naidu garu and YSR garu as friends, political leaders and rivals. It will talk about human nature and a lot of other aspects. I need some great casting for that. 'Indraprastham' is its working title.
'Baahubali-Before The Beginning' is an ambitious project that wants to be a franchise like 'The Game Of Thrones'. 'GoT' was written as a novel over 10 years. The screenplay was written for an even longer period. Its production works began after everything was detailed out in the script. They had to bet entire life on the series. I and Praveen Sattaru teamed up for 'Baahubali-Before The Beginning' with proper awareness. But we were being asked to rush through. A few portions were shot, but we were not satisfied with the output. If Netflix wanted a 'GoT'-level product, it would require far greater effort.