Writer-director duo Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK discuss season two of ‘The Family Man’ starring Manoj Bajpayee and Samantha Akkineni, their indie film ‘Cinema Bandi’, and more
Versatile is how one can describe filmmaker duo Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, popularly known as Raj and DK. As writers, directors and producers, their oeuvre has included everything from a zombie comedy to a thriller. D2R Indie, an offshoot of their production house D2R, tasted its first success with the recent Telugu film Cinema Bandi. Raj and DK are now gearing up for season two of The Family Man, which will stream on Amazon Prime Video from June 4.
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The trailer unveiled on Wednesday morning shows Srikant Tiwari (Manoj Bajpayee), as the family man who goes through marriage counselling and has to tackle a new adversary named Raaji (Samantha Akkineni).
Raj and DK have a lot more on their shoulders. In the works is a web series starring Vijay Sethupathi and Shahid Kapoor, and they are also collaborating with Russo Brothers to direct an episode of the multi-series Citadel, starring Priyanka Chopra-Jonas.
Edited excerpts from an interview:
Given the appreciation for season one of The Family Man, did you work with an added responsibility?
This is the first time we are in a territory of sequel and expectations. Fortunately or unfortunately, we had written and filmed 50% of season two by the time season one was out. We filmed in Chennai, in the UK… and neither the appreciation nor the criticism impacted what we had planned for the second season.
Samantha Akkineni and Manoj Bajpayee in ‘The Family Man’ season two
How did the collaboration with Samantha come about?
Once we finished writing, we were on the lookout for an actor. It is a very physical part, as is evident in the trailer. It is a deglam, intense and emotional role. We didn’t know Samantha earlier. When she read the huge docket with the script, she was extremely convinced that she could pull it off, and that mattered to us. Once the episodes are out, you will know why we are saying this.
Were you cautious to ensure that season two doesn’t attract undue attention for any political or religious references?
Maybe it’s best to discuss those aspects once the show is out. For us, the bigger challenge was to get the show ready during the pandemic. We had filmed most of season two before March 2020 lockdown. Only a week’s shoot was left, which was done once restrictions were eased late last year. Some of the post-production for season two, however, had to be done remotely due to the second wave lockdown. We couldn’t visit the DI (digital intermediate) theatre and relied on video calls and WhatsApp. It was three times the effort.
Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
You have completed more than a decade in Hindi cinema (their first Hindi film 99 released in 2009), but you have stated that you are still indie at heart and that led you to launch D2R Indie. Can you talk about it?
With D2R Indie, we specifically intend to support new filmmakers with unique, fresh voices. We both started as true blue indie filmmakers and we are proud of our journey. It took us five years to get the hang of things. We left everything [their careers as software engineers in the US] behind to be filmmakers. We were strong in academics and our families were worried. So we decided to make our movies count. We were determined not to make run on the mill movies even if it is going to be hard.
Apart from low budgets and the do-it-yourself nature, indie cinema is characterised by a fresh approach to a story/genre. We have tried doing that and we want to support new filmmakers who want to do it.
We yearned for creative producers who would not only fund a film but with their experience help us improvise a script, tell us if we are filming right, look at the edits and enhance post-production. At D2R Indie, we intend to be creative producers and mentors.
A still from ‘Cinema Bandi’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
How involved were you with Cinema Bandi?
We were very involved creatively; that’s also a reason why new filmmakers want to collaborate with us. A lot of brainstorming happens to ensure there’s a great script on paper, before a project goes on floors. We worked with a talented bunch — director Praveen Kandregula, the writers (Vasanth Maringanti and Krishna Pratyusha) and the cast and crew. We were present in the initial days of filming and later while editing, to help where necessary.
Is it sheer coincidence that the first film to come from D2R Indie is about the making of an indie film, and in Telugu?
It was serendipitous and not by design. Had Praveen come up with some other good story also, we would have backed it. And we are glad we could start from home, with a Telugu film.
Did Cinema Bandi bring back memories of your own ‘jugaad’ in the initial years of filmmaking?
We always did jugaad, and the kind of jugaad changed from our very first film (Flavours; 2003) where we had no support to our first Hindi film (99) where we had a little support.
For Flavours, we had a small crew like the Cinema Bandi people, but we were shooting in New Jersey and not Gollapally. We were groping in the dark and on set, despite being first-time directors, we knew more about filmmaking than the rest of the cast and crew (laughs).
What’s next from D2R Indie?
We are considering a couple of scripts. Not every story needs to be great, to be made into a film. Sometimes decent storylines can make for a good film if treated well. Take Cinema Bandi; the idea is decent — a film about filmmaking. How you treat it makes a difference. We were confident that people would like it, though we didn’t expect an overwhelming response.
In the 2000s, filmmakers hoped that multiplexes would pave way for a new wave of films. Similar opinions are being voiced now with the emergence of digital platforms. How do you look at this?
The 1980s and 90s had more rural stories but in the 2000s, we witnessed a shift towards urban and NRI stories, facilitated by the multiplex culture that changed the dynamics of filmmaking at a national level.
OTT platforms have now overhauled filmmaking, forcing writers and directors to up the quality of their projects. When theatres begin to function in full swing post pandemic, films will need to have good content and not just smart packaging.
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