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Dhootha – Vikram K Kumar interview

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Dhootha is technically brilliant; Shot in rain for 100 days & Chay’s magic –Vikram K Kumar

The Telugu show ‘Dhootha’ is a global thriller that captivates audiences with its supernatural elements, starring the charismatic Naga Chaitanya, has garnered significant interest. Directed by creative filmmaker Vikram K Kumar, it also features pivotal roles played by Priya Bhavani Shankar, Parvathi Thiruvothu, Prachi Desai, and others. Produced by Sharat Marar, it is set to premiere on December 1 on Prime Video in Telugu, Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam. Here are some excerpts from director Vikram K Kumar’s special media interaction.

Why did you make Dhootha in the first place?
Having transitioned into the supernatural genre after ’13B,’ I haven’t explored it much in cinema. The opportunity presented by the web format intrigued me, and ‘Dhootha’ has been a fulfilling experience. The challenge lies in maintaining suspense and engaging the audience throughout each episode in the long format. The writing process was enjoyable, and I’m eager to see the audience’s response to the show.

What is the concept behind ‘Dhootha’?
‘Dhootha’ translates to messenger. It refers to a journalist embedded in an organization, revealing incidents within a newsroom setting.

Did you create ‘Dhootha’ to spark discussions?
The discussions about ‘Dhootha’ have been ongoing. I only expose the criticism when the screenplays are played. Some reviews come in within two hours. More in-depth discussions can take place. ‘Dhootha’ has the strength to hold up to twenty episodes.

How did the experience of creating a web series differ from other formats like films?
OTT platforms offer a significant advantage. ‘Dhootha’ is now available in 240 countries worldwide, reaching a massive global audience. Viewers worldwide, including fans of Korean and foreign shows, are showing interest in our Telugu show. The natural thriller genre has a broad fan base globally, and our show is anticipated by Telugu-speaking audiences as well.

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What was Naga Chaitanya’s reaction to the story?
Chaitu is a good friend, and we collaborated for the third time after ‘Manam.’ I narrated the horror story during the making of ‘Manam,’ and he expressed fear of horror stories. However, he really liked the ‘Dhootha’ narrative, considering it a super-natural thriller fiction.

How did you come up with Naga Chaitanya’s look?
Before ‘Dhootha,’ he did the movie ‘Thank You.’ There, he portrayed a character in distress. Even in love stories, he manages to look distressed. He has a knack for appearing intense distressed and I like that. However, for ‘Dhootha,’ we tried something new. He looks impressive in a clean-shaven avatar.

How does Chay portray the role of a Journalist?
Being a journalist is a powerful role. In the democracy, journalism is a cornerstone. Investigative journalism, in particular, involves a lot of risk. To be in that profession, one needs a lot of guts. Not everyone can do that job. In this story, portraying such a character was wonderfully challenging, and Chay pulled it off well.

Expectations on Dhootha are high. How does it feel?
The real outcome of a movie is known only when it is released on Friday. But for web series, it’s a different scenario. It takes some time for the audience to decide if they like it or not. There is less urgency in comparison to movies.

Does it feel challenging to make a supernatural thriller?
I really like this genre. After ’13B,’ I haven’t done such stories until now. If I make stories in a similar manner, it feels like I’m repeating myself. So, I haven’t ventured into that zone again. Now, with movies like ‘Virupaksha’ and ‘Mangalavaram,’ I am excited to explore such stories again. I have missed this genre for a long time. Now, with ‘Dhootha 2’ and ‘Dhootha 3’ discussions happening, it seems like I am back in that groove.

How is Chay’s performance in the series?
“Dhootha” stands out for its exceptional episodes, especially during the climax and shooting sequences. Chaitu’s performance in those moments is remarkable. Nagarjuna garu has given valuable suggestions and praised my efforts. The project has been a great collaboration.

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What about the actresses in Dhootha?
Regarding Priya Bhavani Shankar, Parvathi Thiruvothu, and Prachi Desai’s characters, I chose Parvathi for the revolutionary role. She’s a versatile actor and brings a brilliant performance as a police officer. Working with Priya Bhavani Shankar and Prachi Desai was also fantastic.

Tell us about the technical brilliance of the series
The web series required meticulous work, and quick completion of shooting and heavy post-production took place. It was well-received for its technical brilliance and engaging storyline. We have shot for 100 days in the rain, which is quite a meticulous job. The focus on editing and the brilliant music by Navin added to its quality.

How was the reception at IFFI, Goa?
Screening at the Goa International Film Festival was a great experience, receiving positive feedback from the audience.

Tell us about the producer of the series
Producer Sharath Marar has been a passionate supporter of the project. With his production house’s expertise, the series became possible. His dedication, even during tight schedules, reflects his commitment.

What are the other OTT series you enjoyed most?
I enjoy family dramas like “Family Man,” crime thrillers like “Scam,” and light-hearted shows like “Jubilee.”

When are you making your Malayalam debut, which is your mother tongue?
And about Malayalam cinema, my friends also suggest I try making one. However, as of now, I haven’t penned a story in that genre. Perhaps, in the future, I might explore such narratives.

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