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Director VS Mukkhesh Interview – Market Mahalakshmi

Director VS Mukkhesh, who has ample experience in the digital space, is gearing up for his feature film debut with this week’s release Market Mahalakshmi, starring Kerintha fame Parvateesam and Praneekaanvika in the lead. There are butterflies in his stomach, as you would expect of a newcomer, but he’s confident that he’s telling a story that matters and is relevant.

Excerpts from a chat:

‘Script is the film’s USP’

I worked on over 100 short films and web shows for Telugu One and other popular digital channels. Eventually, I met my producer Akhilesh through a web series Afreen, after which Market Mahalakshmi materialised. The script is the USP of the film. While the promos may suggest that the story is about a corporate employee falling in love with a vegetable seller in a market, I’ve reserved quite a few surprises for the second hour.

On the publicity campaign and what to expect from the film

My publicity campaign would’ve been easier had I revealed the film’s core issue directly. It’s about a sensitive topic we all resonate with and something we wouldn’t want to experience in our lives. However, we didn’t want to exploit a touchy issue to promote it. When you watch the film, you’ll realise we were right. I can assure you that such a theme hasn’t been addressed in Telugu cinema to date.

We’re using the love story of a corporate employee and vegetable seller to draw crowds to theatres, but they’ll be surprised by the second half. The premise may seem slightly implausible on paper, but it is based on a true incident. Being a newcomer, I wanted to play safe with the casting and chose Parvateesam for the film, our rapport helped us through the making.

Release anxieties

I admit I’m not fully convinced that people will come to the theatres for the lead actors alone, but I have a silent assurance that a good story will due in some form. Audiences are more nepotistic than the industry – it’s they who encourage star kids. Though many advised us to opt for a direct OTT release, we wanted to take the plunge with a theatrical release. The background score and the music are major highlights.

Translating the script onto the screen

Market Mahalakshmi took off last February and we wrapped up the shoot in just 24 days – including six songs and a fight sequence. I was desperate to prove my potential through the film. My short film experiences proved immensely beneficial to shoot in real-time locations. We initially planned it as an OTT film, but the makers wanted to give it a shot at theatres. It’s a gamble and we hope it pays off.

Final word

Making a film is as challenging as arranging a marriage – there’s no respite at any stage. However, with newcomers, I’ll say it’s not rocket science and very much doable. Market Mahalakshmi is releasing in a week where there’s not much competition and we hope to have an upper hand. It’s a story that’ll appeal to youngsters and families alike.

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