The first look poster of Raja Vikramarka, the upcoming Telugu film, was released by filmmaker Sandeep Reddy Vanga on social media on Sunday. The film stars actor Kartikeya, best known for playing the lead in RX 100 (2018) and last seen in Chaavu Kaburu Challaga (2021).
Written and directed by debutant filmmaker Sri Saripalli, the film is presented by Adi Reddy T and produced by 88 Rama Reddy under the Sree Chitra Movie Makers banner.
Speaking to Silverscreen India, Sri Saripalli says the film is an action-comedy film which will feature Kartikeya as a newly-recruited NIA officer named Vikram. “It will be about how this fresh recruit learns the ropes. Comedy plays an important role in the film.”
The idea, he says, popped into his head in 2014-15 when he lived next to the CBI colony in Hyderabad. “My apartment and the colony shared a wall, and I could see the colony from my home. I used to observe this one person who I thought was a small-time driver or someone in a low-grade position, because he was very young. But, after a major case, I came to know from the newspapers that he was the key officer involved in the case. He was only 24. With the conventional cinema mindset, I’d assumed that a CBI officer would be in their 30s or 40s, well built, etc. And I realised I wouldn’t be alone in this assumption. Starting from that thought, I began to work on this script.”
The filmmaker clarifies that he has avoided turning his characters into caricatures. “The comedy comes more from the irony of the situations. It is situational comedy,” he explains.
Sri, who has been part of the Telugu film industry for nine years now, came back to India after completing his Masters in Filmmaking from Universal Studios, LA, in 2012. “I worked in the US on small-time and indie films. When I came back to India, I began working as associate under director VV Vinayak,” he says.
About roping in Kartikeya to play the lead in Raja Vikramarka, the filmmaker says, “I narrated the story to Kartikeya a couple of years ago, somewhere between December 2018 and January 2019. It was only after I met him that I wrote down the whole script. So the Vikram character evolved to be more like Kartikeya is in real life.”
“Tanya portrays a dancer in the film and the main reason I cast her is because she is a trained classical dancer. Pasupathy plays the primary antagonist, while Sai Kumar appears in another key role. The film is actually the story of Sai Kumar and Pasupathy’s characters from Vikram’s perspective,” the director reveals.
The film will feature four songs composed by Prashanth R Vihari, and Sri says none of them are “cut-to-Ooty” kind of songs. “All the songs are woven into the story and with each of them, there will be a story progression,” he explains, adding that three of the songs have been composed, but are yet to be recorded.
Raja Vikramarka is 75-80% completed, the filmmaker says, adding that only 18 days of shooting remain. “We had started to film in February 2020, but due to the pandemic, we halted and resumed this February. We primarily shot in Hyderabad, with a two-day outdoor shoot in Gandikota (Andhra Pradesh). We are planning another five-day outdoor shoot in a forest or similar place. The location is yet to be decided.”
The director says the film’s editing, handled by Jesvin Prabu, is happening in parallel. The film is shot by PC Mouli with art direction by late Naresh Timmiri and Sreeroop Menon. “We are a bunch of young chaps. Me, my cameraman, editor, art director — we are all debutants. We do have a good amount of experience in our respective fields, but this is our first big project,” Sri adds.
With the filming expected to be completed by the end of July, and a six-week period planned for post-production, Raja Vikramarka should be completed by August or September, he tells us.
When asked about the release of the film, the director says his priority is completing the film and it will be the “production and hero’s call” to decide on the time and method of release.