SCRIPTED SUC­CESS

India Today - - LEISURE -

Asuc­cess­ful fail­ure: that is how K.V. Vi­jayen­dra Prasad—best known as the writer be­hind such hit films as Ma­gad­heera, Eega and Baahubali—de­scribes his pro­fes­sional life be­fore he took up screen­writ­ing 30 years ago. To­day, at the age of 75, he is one of the most sought-af­ter writ­ers in the coun­try, with in­dus­tries from Kol­ly­wood to Bol­ly­wood seek­ing his cre­ative ser­vices. Hindi TV also wants Prasad’s recipe for suc­cess, and Star Plus has hired him to write a 65-episode fan­tasy epic se­ries, Aarambh.

“Movies are very fast-paced,” says Prasad about the dif­fer­ence be­tween writ­ing for small- and big-screen. “So much of the story gets left out be­cause of time con­straints. With TV, you have the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore char­ac­ters and sit­u­a­tions in more depth.” For Aarambh, Prasad has taken in­spi­ra­tion from the Ma­hab­harata, and created two dif­fer­ent civil­i­sa­tions to de­velop a “clash of ide­olo­gies and life­styles”. Re­fer­ring to Aarambh as an In­dian Game of Thrones, he says the se­ries has no hero, and in­stead fo­cuses on sev­eral char­ac­ters.

Cinema, how­ever, re­mains his ob­ses­sion. Aside from Baahubali 2, another of Prasad’s sto­ries will hit the big screen this year—Vi­jay 61, re­leas­ing in Oc­to­ber. Prasad has also di­rected a film him­self—Sri­valli,a trilin­gual sci-fi drama about the work­ings of the mind. He also has another pe­riod film in de­vel­op­ment (star­ring Raghava Lawrence), not to men­tion his script for Manikarnika (with Kan­gana Ra­naut as Rani Laxmibai), for which film­ing will soon be­gin. But Prasad doesn’t want to talk about his busy work life, which sees him shut­tling from Hy­der­abad to Mumbai and Chennai. He is ea­ger to pay trib­ute to his writ­ing gu­rus—Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar. “I learned by watch­ing their movies,” he says. “When­ever I start writ­ing a film, I re­li­giously watch Sho­lay once, just to warm my­self up—just like [how other] peo­ple go to Sid­dhiv­inayak tem­ple or Sai Baba’s tem­ple.” It’s one of the few films he can watch in a sin­gle sit­ting, he says, adding: “I have a weak­ness. The mo­ment I start watch­ing a film, I be­come sleepy.”

Prasad him­self doesn’t write; in­stead, he has as­sis­tants take down his nar­ra­tion. The best ideas, he says, come dur­ing his morn­ing walk. One idea that is re­cur­rent in some of his big­gest films is rein­car­na­tion. A firm be­liever in the con­cept, he calls it an ef­fec­tive means “to grip the au­di­ence”. Cu­ri­ously, how­ever, for some­one who rou­tinely refers to the Ma­hab­harata for char­ac­ter sketches, Prasad hasn’t read the epic in its en­tirety. “What­ever I know from anec­dotes and from movies stays in my mind,” he says. But he just might end up hav­ing to read it—if his son, S.S. Ra­jamouli, makes an adap­ta­tion, as he has said he will. “God will­ing,” says Prasad, “I’ll be a part of it.” —Suhani Singh

“WHEN I START WRIT­ING A FILM, I MAKE SURE TO WATCH SHO­LAY ONCE—JUST TO WARM MY­SELF UP”

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