Days after entering into the industry as an Assistant Director, his father died. Now, Gopi Mohan has evolved into a star story and screenplay writer. “My father wanted me to become a software engineer and settle down abroad. But I had made it clear that direction is my goal when I was 16,” Gopi starts off, in a candid conversation with Sashidhar Adivi
No takers despite initial success
Despite having no godfather, Gopi has been lucky to get the right partners. “I learnt the technique of editing and screenplay from director B Gopal and Teja. I have had the opportunity to observe seasoned writers like Paruchuri Brothers and Sathyanand. I used to jot down the points, trying to analyse how their minds worked. Back then, I was advised to join under Teja and worked with him for ‘Nuvvu Nenu’, for which I was like the co-director,” Gopi recounts.
Very few get to write for star heroes early in their career. “I penned the story of Nagajuna-starrer ‘Santosham’, and later for Venkatesh, Balakrishna and even Chiranjeevi,” says Gopi, adding that there he had to struggle even after some initial successes. “There was a time when action films like ‘Aadi’, ‘Simhadri’, and ‘Indra’ became the trend. I didn’t get offers although I had given a hit like ‘Santosham’, a family drama. My focus was on direction, but my trials didn’t click. At that time, me and Sreenu Vaitla worked for the film ‘Venky’. Dhee, Lakshyam, Dubai Sreenu, Ready, Dhenikaina Ready, Dookudu, Baadshah, Loukyam films gave me recognition as a good commercial writer. I was 31 and had to marry. I thought that I would be able to concentrate more on writing after marriage. It happened. ‘Ready’ was my first film after marriage. It was a super hit,” Gopi says.
“As a writer I had good & bad experiences in this industry but no regrets. I love cinema a lot. As film writers, we can make people cry, laugh, think and feel. It is a great privilege and a great responsibility. My only ambition is to entertain audience with my creative skills throughout my life,” he adds.
Family gives honest feedback
But isn’t it surprising a star writer like him has been finding it difficult to make directorial debut? “It’s not about difficulty. I am passionate, not desperate, to become a director. I have never approached big heroes. Without giving a hit, I shouldn’t approach a big hero. Their image is like a crown of thorns. I am ready to take any risk for what I believe in. I can’t do the same stuff as a director what I have been doing as a writer. I want to tell stories where human emotions are given importance. I am going to lock a love story in June or July. If this film becomes a hit, I will have the opportunity to tell more. I get honest feedback from my wife. My family members are generally correct in their feedback. If they tell me something is not that good, it turns out to be so. I don’t show attitude with my family. There is no difference in how I am, whether a film is a hit or a flop,” Gopi quips.
Away from controversies
Talking about the much-written about breakdown in the relations between Sreenu Vaitla, Kona Venkat and himself, Gopi is brutally honest. “I stay away from controversies and negativity. As for my equations with Vaitla, they are good. There were differences after ‘Dookudu’ because Kona Venkat and me didn’t get single card credit for dialogues and story, respectively. We reunited for ‘Baadshah’, but though it was decided that Vaitla would write the dialogues himself, he asked Kona to write for some scenes. When he was not given the credit, Kona called it quits. You can’t force writers to do something. Many hiccups took place within those four walls, things which even the hero didn’t know,” Gopi reveals.
An avid traveler
Gopi comes across as a frank and strong person, but he is sensitive at heart. “Naturally, any writer gets hurt if you say his work is not good (smiles).” It’s his friends from outside the industry who help Gopi keep a track of what the audience like. “I have friends from my engineering days. In my interactions, I get ideas and my debut film ‘Ishtamga Santoshamga Anandamga’ is also a peppy romantic drama.”
Gopi has an extra-ordinary collection of photographs. “I am an avid traveler. I have visited all the famous temples across India. I get to meet so many people. I have been to Europe all alone with my camera. When I start making movies, you will see those influences (of international cinema) in my films,” the writer signs off.