Imagine someone entering the industry with the sole aim of meeting his most favourite matinee idol, and going on to deliver the biggest hit for that star’s son. That’s Chandoo Mondeti for you. The star is Nagarjuna, the star-kid is Naga Chaitanya and the film is ‘Premam’. Sashidhar Adivi writes more about the new-age filmmaker.
“When I told my father that I wanted to meet Nagarjuna garu, he said to me, ‘Meeting as a fan is not the whole thing. You make an identity for yourself and meet him.’ I worked towards that,’ Chandoo says with a glint in his eyes. Being a die-hard Nag fan, it was but natural that a reference to the cult hit ‘Shiva’ was there in his last release ‘Premam’.
Chandoo’s journey into filmdom started as an assistant director (AD). “I worked as an AD for ‘ Yuvatha’ and ‘Solo’. I knew actor Nikhil since then. Also, filmmaker Sudheer Varma too began his career at the same time and our friendship continues till date,” reveals the Engineering graduate, adding, “I penned the story of my debut
film Karthikeya during ‘Swami Raa Raa’ shooting. Soon I narrated the script to Nikhil and he readily agreed for the project and that’s how ‘Karthikeya’ kicked off.”
After ‘Karthikeya’, Chandoo garnered a lot of eyeballs. He is often described by his close associates and actors as an out-of-the-box thinker. The director has delivered his second successive hit last year with a romantic drama, ‘Premam’.
“Actually, ‘Premam’ happened by chance. I had teamed up with Chai for a thriller and before we could delve into the script, Nivin Pauly’s ‘Premam’ was out. For about ten producers or so, Chaitu was the natural choice to play the lead if it were to be remade in Telugu. My producer, too, suggested the same. Hesitantly, I accepted the
deal. But when I realized that I could thoroughly nativise the original version for our audience, I fell in lo ve with it,” recalls Chandoo, giving us a brief of how the project materialised.
Fear about comparisons gripped him throughout; the principal characters (Shruti Haasan in particular) were trolled on social media. “We were worried with the trolls and nasty memes and were very concerned whether these things impact the film’s opening. Much to our surprise, one fine day, Nagarjuna watched it and went with a smile
on his face,” he reveals. The director was smart in choosing the right casting and also gave the characters a different spin. Be it the way the characters of Shruti Haasan (Sitara), Anupama Parameswaran (Suma) and Madonna Sebastian (Sindhu) have been named, or the way Sai Pallavi’s lecturer avatar was improvised, they were testimony to
his imaginative thinking.
“I tweaked Malar’s character as per the image I have of female lecturers. They pretend to be dominating in the presence of students although their personality is not that. My wife, a lecturer, has that trait. You see that in Shruti’s demeanor and casting her was a conscious decision,” Chandoo reveals.
Although the filmmaker made a beautiful romantic entertainer, he states that such genre would be the last on his agenda on a given day. “Love stories are not preference at all. I may write a brief rom-com track and end it once the heroine falls for the hero,” he says, prompting us to ask which are his-kind-of genres.
“Science-fiction and mythology-based subjects, among others, are my cup of tea. Satellite communications and such areas thoroughly interest me,” he says.
From being a greenhorn who debuted with a young hero, Chandoo now is poised to work with big stars in the coming years, trying a bevy of genres. That’s what happens when you ‘Premam’ your profession!