Produced by Y Rajeev Reddy and J Sai Babu under the First Frame Entertainments banner, the film is adapted from the novel of the same name by Sannapureddy Venkatrami Reddy.
In conversation with Silverscreen India, Krish says, “I read the novel during the pandemic and was so fascinated by the structure of it. Every time, we see a film set against the backdrop of a forest, it is about smugglers, thieves or is a horror movie. We have not witnessed a subject like this where shepherds take their sheep and go to forests in search of food and water during a famine.”
The filmmaker says he was moved to learn that people are living this lifestyle even during the 21st century.
Konda Polam revolves around Kataru Ravindra Yadav (Tej), who hails from a shepherd family and faces humiliation for his background. He fails to clear job interviews multiple times in Hyderabad, but is proud that he’s trained in Nallamala Forest. At his grandfather’s behest, he goes to Konda Polam along with his father, as there is no sufficient water for sheep in the village. He takes on the responsibility of protecting the sheep from wild animals.
“It is the story of an educated guy who has trouble finding a job. He is forced to move back to help his father. Seeing how his father and grandfather work, makes him a greater man. Rather than reading self-help books, if we closely observe how our parents and grandparents deal with problems, there can be no better personality development programme than that. That’s what happens with Ravi, the protagonist of Konda Polam. Hence, we call it ‘An Epic Tale of Becoming’,” the filmmaker explains.
In his journey, Ravi faces many hurdles, the biggest being taking on the evil men in the jungle who are more dangerous than the wild animals and are the real threat. “It is an adventure trying to safeguard the animals in the wild since Nallamala Forest is a tiger zone, and there are also thieves trying to steal the sheep. They could get Mountain Fever as well,” adds Krish. “The film, at its core, is about believing in oneself and facing life strongly.”
On casting the one-film old Tej, he says, “I zeroed on Vaishnav Tej for Ravi because I was fascinated by his presence. This happened before his debut film’s (Uppena) release. I just saw the song Nee Kannu Neeli Samudram and fixed him.”
Singh plays Ravi’s girlfriend named Obulamma, and Krish reveals that the character was exclusively developed for the film. “The author of the book (Reddy) worked on the screen adaptation as well. He worked on the themes and dialogues, while I handled the screenplay. We got a beautiful and enchanting romantic tale happening in the forest between Obu and Ravi.”
“Rakul is a very dedicated actor and known for her professional approach and conduct. We felt her presence and experience would work out,” he adds.
Though the film is set in Nallamala Forest, the makers had initially planned to shoot in the neighbouring Goa forests. However, they were declined permission as their livestock could attract the tigers. The team then shot the film in the Ananthagiri Hills of Vikarabad near Hyderabad.
Krish says the biggest challenge he faced while filming was getting the 1,000+ sheep to act as per his will and walk around in a certain path. The filmmaker adds that a few members from the local shepherd community were also roped in for the film.
Asked about the choice to include themes such as nature conservation and the importance of environment-friendly lifestyles in his film, Krish says, “I believe that cinema should have entertainment value and at the same time, it should also put an idea into the minds of the audience.”
The team waited patiently to release the film in theatres because they wanted that experience for the audience, says Krish. “When we were starting the film, our idea was to finish it soon. We planned to shoot in September and October 2020 and give ourselves about 6-7 months for the visual effects (for the tiger). We never expected the second wave of the pandemic. But we were not in a hurry to release it. We decided to work on the post-production and release it now in October. With other films faring really well in theatres lately, we have a positive outlook for Konda Polam. It is one for the big screens and we’re sure the audience will enjoy the experience.”
Krish will next be directing Pawan Kalyan in Hari Hara Veera Mallu. The filmmaker reveals that the team has finished 50% of the shooting and will resume in November. Set in the 17th century against the Mughal rule backdrop, Hari Hara Veera Mallu is scheduled to release on April 29, 2022.