Anil Ravipudi: ‘Maya Bazar’ is the best screenplay I have come across

Ahead of the Venkatesh and Varun Tej starrer ‘F3’, director Anil Ravipudi opens up on writing comedies

Ahead of the Venkatesh and Varun Tej starrer ‘F3’, director Anil Ravipudi opens up on writing comedies

The Telugu comedy F2: Fun and Frustration was a sleeper hit that had the audiences in splits when it was released in 2019. Director Anil Ravipudi, who had earlier entertained with films Pataas, Supreme and Raja The Great, became a bankable director who had the knack of delivering films with mainstream masala and comedy. He followed F2 up with the action entertainer Sarileru Neekevvaru starring Mahesh Babu, Vijayashanthi and Rashmika Mandanna. F2 was not to be a one-off film. Building on its potential, Anil wrote and directed F3, which will release in theatres on May 27.

Ravipudi states a comedy franchise is new to Telugu cinema, unlike Hindi cinema’s Golmaal films. “ F2 was a relationship comedy on the frustration between couples in a middle-class family. Money is the cause of frustration in F3. My biggest challenge was to write a story and screenplay that would be more entertaining than F2.”

The director is confident that F3 will hit “the bull’s eye” and says, “The characterisation, visuals and dialogues were worked upon to take the audiences on a fun ride. The characters will display their greed and cunningness in their bid to make more money.” 

A few character traits from F2 have been retained. Venkatesh Daggubati will re-enact his ‘Venky asana’ and actor Pradeep will break his silence to say ‘anthega anthega’ (that’s it, that’s it). Varun Tej, Tamannaah Bhatia and Mehreen Pirzada will be placed in a new milieu, going to any length to make money. Actors Sunil and Ali are the additions for the comedy and Sonal Chauhan and Pooja Hegde appear in brief parts.

The principal cast of ‘F3’, including Venkatesh, Varun Tej, Tamannaah Bhatia, Mehreen Pirzada, Rajendra Prasad, Sunil, Vennela Kishore and Ali

The principal cast of ‘F3’, including Venkatesh, Varun Tej, Tamannaah Bhatia, Mehreen Pirzada, Rajendra Prasad, Sunil, Vennela Kishore and Ali

The comic influences

While writing F3, Ravipudi steered clear of any plot similarities with earlier Telugu comedies that had money-obsessed characters. He grew up watching Telugu comedies directed by Jandhyala, S V Krishna Reddy and EVV Satyanarayana, and Charlie Chaplin films: “I used to re-enact the comic sequences and mimic actors for my friends.” He picks Aha Naa Pellanta, Appula Apparao and Yamaleela as some of his favourite Telugu comedies.

However, one film that left him awestruck for its story and screenplay, he says, is Maya Bazar: “It is the best screenplay I have come across. Each time I watch it, I am amazed at how a big action romance has been narrated in an entertaining manner with humour pervading through the film.”

A keen observer of people, Ravipudi says it helps him develop characters with unique traits: “When I meet someone for the first time, I observe their body language and mannerisms. EVV, Krishna Reddy and Jandhyala used behavioural humour in their films. I, too, build on that aspect.”

Ravipudi admits that writing comedy is not always easy. “You can design action or emotional sequences easier than writing comedy. We never know if what we write will be liked by the audiences; people are quick to judge comedy.”

Pause, recoup

Working on F3 during the pandemic posed challenges, given the uncertainty: “Just like many others, my family and I were also affected by COVID-19. During the second wave, I could not focus on cinema for three to four months. Since film shootings were stalled, it gave me the time to recoup.”

Anil hopes that the audience will like F3. Comedies such as Jaathi Ratnalu and DJ Tillu fared well during the pandemic, he mentions. “After all, laughter is the best medicine.”

In F3, Venkatesh’s character has night blindness and Varun stutters. These are tricky areas around which the comedy has been woven. Anil has done it before in Raja The Great, in which Ravi Teja played a visually impaired character. “A lot of people discouraged me from making Raja The Great. They asked how I can sustain humour through the film. But it worked.”

Next, Anil Ravipudi is working on an action drama starring Balakrishna and Sree Leela. “It will be unlike the worlds of F2 and F3; I need a break before another comedy.”

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