Starting his career as a writer, Prakash Toleti now makes a confident debut as a director

Identical ideology and similar views on life, literature and poetry brought two lecturers together. The senior among the two one day said to his junior that life became a routine affaire teaching the same lessons year after year, why not they do something more creative. The junior agreed.

The two landed in Hyderabad to pursue a career in movies. Both indulged in writing for TV serials and movies at first, though their dream was a filmmaker job. The senior made his grade with the big hit, Arya while his protégé is now debuting with the big budgeted, Na Ishtam with an impressive star cast produced by Paruchuri Kireeti. It has been a long journey to the tinsel town for Sukumar, the senior among the two and Prakash Toleti his junior at the Aditya Junior college, Kakinada.

“Though I have won prizes in school drama competitions and elocution contests, I never nurtured the idea of a movie career till I met Sukumar,” says Prakash Toleti. “He has a great influence on me. When he quit the job, I too followed suit. We started our careers as writers. I was a co-writer for movies including – Kalyanaramudu, Vechivunta and Dil. With the Mahesh-starrer, Bobby directed by Sobhan I started my career as an assistant director and later assisted my mentor Sukumar for all his directorial ventures from Arya to 100% Love.”

“While working for Arya-2, I wrote a story that I wanted to direct myself. I narrated it to Suresh Babu and Rana. They liked it. At that time he was shooting for his debut movie, Leader. It took two years for me to complete the bound script. It was our art director A.S. Prakash whom I know since Arya days who took me to producer Paruchuri Kireeti. He instantly liked the script and then everything fell in place one by one,” smiles the former Mathematics lecturer.

He says the protagonist in his movie represents him too. “You cannot call it narcissism. But some people tend to like themselves more. I wrote the story from that point.

Shooting in Malaysia for 45 days is a pleasant experience, says the first timer. “Rana is cooperation personified. Genelia is a thorough professional. The entire unit worked for 14-15 hours each day starting from 7 am to midnight. And none of them complained.

Nor they treated me like a debut director. From the light boys to the top technicians, they all loved the movie and worked hard. May be this is the goodwill that I have earned all these 13 years in the industry.”

His ambition was to direct Chiranjeevi. “That is not possible now. But Sukumar and I got a chance — thanks to Nagababu to write dialogues for Bavagaru Bagunnara but we could not utilise the opportunity fully. We wrote three scenes which are in the movie. At the same time we were called by our college to help them recruit students. On moral grounds we did that losing a great opportunity,” he regrets. His idea of movie making is sensible entertainment.

“I will make only commercial films that the audience can identify with but at the same time throwing surprises at them with intelligent scripts emulating my guru Sukumar. Right now my mind is on the outcome of Na Ishtam. It was a satisfying experience. With all the trust bestowed on me, I'm a bit apprehensive too. But I am getting positive feed back from those who saw the rush cut. Hope the audience too like the movie,” he signs off moving towards the edit suit.