Cinema can change someone's life: 'Jathi Ratnalu' star on humour and healing

·5-min read

New Delhi, Apr 27 (PTI) Actor Naveen Polishetty says with their Telugu film 'Jathi Ratnalu', their aim was to keep the entertainment quotient high as 'humour is medicine' in these times.

The movie, which is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video after a successful theatrical run, has been praised for its spontaneous comedy sequences through the hilarious misadventure of three layabouts who travel from their small-town Jogipet to Hyderabad in search of king size lives but land in trouble.

'Humour is medicine in some ways. It has a very healing effect on our problems. So it's exciting that the film has been such a big box office, because nothing can beat the feeling for a storyteller when a film does something so good to people's lives. Personally, that has been the most satisfying takeaway from this,' Naveen told PTI in a Zoom interview.

The actor said they worked on every scene and dialogue to ensure that people were entertained throughout.

'When we went to set, our only intention was: Is this scene making people laugh enough? If not, let's up it up, let's write more jokes, let's create better scenes to kind of increase the entertainment quotient. So that was a conscious thought every day on set,' the actor said.

From Madhuri Dixit to Salman Khan, the film is full of movie references, something that came organically to both Naveen and director Anudeep KV as cinema buffs.

Anudeep, who is a self-confessed fan of Raj Kapoor and Rajkumar Santoshi, particularly his 1994 comedy 'Andaz Apna Apna', said, 'We just had only one motive and that was to make audiences laugh, laugh, laugh.' 'This is my homage to all my favourite movies and filmmakers. I did not deliberately incorporate all those things in the script but as a movie lover they came to the story organically,' the director added.

Naveen, best known for his films 'Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya' and 'Chhichhore', has his roots in comedy and credits his love for movies for his career as an actor.

'I'm a big film buff myself. Literally watching some of my favourite films is what got me into this space where I had this ambition as a child that I wanted to be an actor. That's the magic of cinema, it can change someone's life forever,' the actor said.

The 31-year-old Hyderabad-born star, whose father is in pharmaceutical business and mother is a bank employee, graduated in civil engineering but gravitated towards cinema. The actor said the aim behind incorporating all the movie references from Bollywood as well as South cinema was to have fun and also 'kind of pay tribute to all these people who have come before us'.

And 'Andaz Apna Apna' was one of their references.

'We wanted to achieve something similar because it's a film that rests on a basic plot but beyond that, it's all funny sequences and performances, great chemistry and just laugh out loud entertainment,' Naveen said.

The film was supposed to release last year but the producers delayed it for a year due to the lockdown. Naveen said they waited for a year to release the film in theatres on March 11 and he is happy that the risk paid off.

Now that the film is playing on OTT, the actor said it will reach out to a large audience.

'Many people have had a tough year, and this has been like a cathartic experience for them because they've had an opportunity to reconnect with friends and families after a year and just laugh for two and a half hours. This film has been that opportunity.' Naveen, who started from the theatre before graduating to YouTube videos and then to movies, said working on these platforms helped him ace his comic timing.

'At the end of the day, all comedy is some form of exaggeration, but the laugh comes when you hit the audiences with the right amount of exaggerations. If my expression is louder than what is needed, you won't laugh. If it is subtler than what is needed, even then you won't laugh. So I think the pitch of your performance and the way you say the line matters.' Having grown up on movies such as 'Mr India', 'Lagaan', 'Rang De Basanti' and 'Munnabhai series', Naveen said he is interested in cinema 'where there is storytelling but where there is also commerce involved with the storytelling.' 'Jathi Ratnalu' also has a cameo from Vijay Deverakonda in the end with Naveen's character addressing the crowd, of which Deverakonda is also a part.

'The whole scene and the speech has become cult. In theatres, we could not hear it because people were yelling so much,' the actor, who was touring America at the time of the interview, said.

The movie is a huge success in the US as well.

Naveen said the film, which deals with unemployment, corruption, and middle-class dreams through the friendship between three small-town people, is an ode to the middle-class dream.

'Anudeep, me, rest of the cast and the technical crew, none of us come from a film background. We all are from middle-class families with a love for cinema and to tell stories in the film industry and the blockbuster success of the film gives hope to middle-class dreams,' Naveen said. PTI BK BK BK