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Watching Tamil and Telugu Films Helped Me Craft Red, Says Filmmaker Kishore Tirumala

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Still from a poster of 'Red'

After Solo Brathuke So Better became the first big budget Telugu film to have a theatrical release during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on December 25, 2020, a slew of Telugu films have lined up for a theatrical release during the Pongal festival later this month. One among them is Red, starring Ram Pothineni, Nivetha Pethuraj, Malvika Sharma, Amritha Aiyer, and Sampath Raj.

Produced by Sravanthi Ravikishore, whose nephew is Pothineni, the film is helmed by filmmaker Kishore Tirumala. Red is a remake of the 2019 Tamil action thriller film Thadam, starring Arun Vijay in a double role along with Tanya Hope, Sonia Agarwal, and Yogi Babu.

Kishore, who has also written the dialogues for Red, speaks with Silverscreen India about directing a remake and how his experiences of working in dubbed films help him understand the pulse of Telugu audiences.

The shooting of Red commenced in November 2019 and finished in February 2020. While the team planned to release the film on April 9, 2020, it was delayed to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. Kishore, a native of Tirupati, said that he was avid watcher of Tamil films.

“When Dhanush’s Velaiilla Pattadhari was dubbed as Raghuvaran B Tech, I wrote the dialogues since I knew Tamil well and we made changes in the dubbing to suit the taste of the Telugu audiences. Instead of translating, I worked on it keeping in mind that it was a straight Telugu film and it was a hit here as well,” Kishore said.

Still from the trailer of ‘Red’

For the filmmaker, when he first watched Thadam, it was not just a thriller film, he said.

“While most of the thrillers will have a singular tone and a unidirectional narrative, the plot of Thadam had several dimensions to it. It had the story, drama, entertainment, love story, and commercial value to it. That was new to me,” he said.

Talking about remaking the film, Kishore said, “The process of remaking the film started in May 2019 after the producer discussed with me. I talked to Magizh Thirumeni [director of Thadam] during the scripting stage and tried to make Thadam relate to the Telugu audience. I tried to own the story and worked on the script for five months.”

He said that they did not “disturb the story, since it is gripping” but worked on the screenplay for the film.“I took the content of Thadam and worked in such a way thinking how would I deliver it.”

Kishore said that Magizh was happy with how the film turned out in Telugu and praised a particular scene, that is vital in the film.

Still from Red movie trailer

Red marks Kishore’s third collaboration with Pothineni after the 2016 romantic comedy Nenu Sailaja, and the 2017 coming-of-age drama Vunnadhi Okate Zindagi.

Speaking about his third venture with Pothineni, Kishore said, “After working with Ram on films centering love and friendship, we thought the thriller genre will be fresh. This is the first time he will be playing a dual role and we did not try to give forceful variation in his characters. We took behavioural characteristics of people in mind and I worked for three months on it before narrating the film to him. He liked it and did his homework too. The result has come out good and the dual characters look as if they are acted by two different people.”

Talking about the screen space of the actors, Kishore said that he wrote the story from the point of view of all the characters and not just the protagonist.

“In all my films, I have around six to seven characters. Just like I work with my male characters, I have written for the female characters too by giving their backstories, their perspective and have given them the necessary screen time for all the characters,” he said.

Talking about the film’s editing, editor Junaid Siddiqui said: “We treated this film as fresh content and have adopted any editing pattern of Thadam. Since Ram is a big star here, we tried to give a mass appeal to the film. If you see Thadam, they will have some lag and the story would be told in a slow manner, but here, the entire film has a fast pace.”

Calling the editor as the “first audience of the film”, Siddiqui said that the team tried to give a commercial spin to the film and said that the storytelling pattern of Red is different from Thadam by using wider frames. “It was a big challenge to edit the film since we tried to keep the storytelling crisp and narrate the content in less time and we did not want to have a lag,” Siddiqui concluded.

Red will release in theatres simultaneously in Telugu and Kannada on January 14. While the Malayalam dubbed version will release on January 22, the makers are also planning to release a dubbed version in Hindi towards the end of the month. The film’s Tamil version will, however, skip the theatrical release and instead be available on an OTT platform.

Red will also have theatrical releases in Bengali, Marathi, and Bhojpuri. The release dates are yet to be announced.

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