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Director Malli Ankam Interview – Aa Okkati Adakku

Aa Okkati Adakku is a cautionary tale on marriage with a fine blend of humour, wit and emotions, director Malli Ankam tells Srivathsan Nadadhur

Malli Ankam, the first-time director behind Allari Naresh’s Aa Okkati Adakku, is a man of few words. Yet, when he had a lot to say about the anxiety surrounding marriages, he decided to make a film out of it. The film is a product of several real-life incidents he has seen, experienced and heard. After a long stint in the industry in various capacities, he turned a director with a slice-of-life comedy.

“Back then, Allari Naresh was working on two films and two other projects were to go on floors soon. When I said that I had a comedy film with him in mind, he was against the idea. I insisted he listen to the narration and take a call. Even before I finished the first half, he said yes and put his two other projects behind the backburner and greenlit this.”

The film is a situational comedy around the desperation for marriage with a social message and a good dose of emotion, the filmmaker says. “As perceived, the film isn’t only about a scam revolving around marriage bureaus but is also a cautionary tale. A question about marriage may only be a laughing matter to many but it triggers needless anxiety among others.”

The filmmaker didn’t want to bore the viewer with a dramatic take on the subject and instead used humour to poke fun at the marriage system. “Many presumed that we picked Faria Abdullah because of her height (on par with Naresh), but I was very impressed with her comic timing in Jathi Ratnalu. Her character invites a crucial twist in the story and she’ll surprise many with her performance.”

Jamie Lever, actor and daughter of Johny Lever, too makes her Telugu debut with the comedy. “She plays the wife of Naresh’s younger brother in the film and looks at her brother-in-law’s life sarcastically. Naresh was watching one of her web shows – Popcorn – on sets and he suggested we approach her for the role. The crew was pleasantly surprised with her Telugu diction.”

There’s added pressure when a film is named after a celebrated comedy by EVV Satyanarayana (Allari Naresh’s father). “There’s no connection between either of the films and the title suggestion came from Naresh himself. I could sense he was a relieved man after watching the first copy (laughs). Think twice before you get married is what I intend to say with the film.”

The collaboration between him and writer BVS Ravi ensured a fine balance between the humour and emotions in Aa Okkati Adakku. “There’s a good chance that the film will attract audiences across languages too, but we’re leaving it for the OTT release, that’s for the platforms to decide.” Malli has multiple scripts ready for his next though he hasn’t signed on the dotted line yet.

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