Utsavam, the upcoming Telugu film starring Prakash Raj, Nassar and Regina Cassandra, among others, is set to be a family drama, made with the hope to revive theatre and drama, the film’s director Arjun Sai tells Silverscreen India.
Produced by Suresh Patil under the Hornbill Pictures banner, the makers recently announced that the film’s shooting has been wrapped up.
Arjun, who has worked as a writer for the television series Jabardasth, is making his directorial debut with Utsavam.
Speaking about the film, Arjun says, “This film will throw light on drama and theatre artists and their lives. It will show how theatre artists once flourished, their subsequent financial struggles, and how they artform went on to decline owing to the lack of audiences. The film addresses the need to revive the culture of drama and promote varied theatre troupes. Theatre is the ‘mother’ of cinema. A lot of the top, successful actors like Prakash Raj, Nassar, and several others, all come from a theatre background. However, now that the art form is eroding, perhaps in a few years from now, many wouldn’t even know that it existed.”
The debutant director says that the film is set in contemporary times and revolves around a group of youngsters, who take efforts to revive the form of theatre that was popular among their previous generations.
Utsavam has an ensemble cast which also includes Rajendra Prasad, Prema, Brahmanandam, Ali, Raghu Babu and LB Sriram, among others. Newcomer Dilip Prakash is playing the lead. Aside from them, a lot of theatre artists have also been roped in.
“Prakash Raj plays a theatre artist, who plays different heroes, while Nasser portrays several villain characters. Other cast members also play theatre artists in the film. As their livelihood diminishes and they run out of options for work, their younger generation has moved on to pursuing jobs in the corporate sector. The story follows a series of events as to how members from the younger generation, played by Regina and Dilip, take efforts to revive the culture of theatre and drama,” he says.
Arjun, who also wrote the script, says that he wrote it back in 2015. “I met with a lot of theatre artists and spent hours with them. It was a difficult journey since I did all of the on-ground research, by myself,” he mentions.
He adds, “I was determined to make my directorial debut with this film because I went to watch the play Mayabazar in Hyderabad. There were barely two or three people in the audience. I felt very, very bad and that stuck with me. Then, I decided to make a film out of this. Similarly, I wanted strong, well-known artists to tell this story so that it reaches many people, so I went ahead and cast actors Nassar and Prakash Raj.”
Utsavam was shot by cinematographer Rasool Ellore in multiple locations across Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal, and Nepal, between 2018 and 2020 but due to the pandemic, it was halted. The filming recently wrapped up, with post-production completed. Anup Rubens has composed the film’s music, with editing done by Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao. The film has five songs and is expected to release soon. Arjun has written the dialogues along with filmmaker Ramana Gopisetti.
The makers are expected to release the film in theatres around mid-2022.
Arjun says that with this film, he wants to help revive the art form of theatre and the livelihood of the artists. “Dramas usually have a good message at the end, and I personally adore the art. I wish this film brings back the glory of the art form,” he concludes.