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Suhas Interview – Ambajipeta Marriage Band

‘Romance is the only area I trouble my directors’ – Suhas discusses Ambajipeta Marriage Band in a chat with Srivathsan Nadadhur

This is an eventful phase in Suhas’ life. Not only is he busy for the next three years with a handful of work commitments, he recently also became a father to a baby boy. His upcoming film – Ambajipeta Marriage Band – is arriving nearly a year after his first major success as a male lead, Writer Padmabhushan. His long-time friend Dushyanth Katikaneni makes his directorial debut with the film.

“Dushyanth has been chasing me to do this project for many years. He worked as an associate for multiple films – Dear Comrade and Uma Maheshwara Ugra Roopasya. Venkatesh Maha was to produce the film initially, but it changed hands owing to his work commitments. It’s a fabulous script, I was quite moved during the narration and we’d worked on it extensively during the lockdown,” he says.

Chiratapudi Marriage Band was another title they considered for the film, but the makers weren’t sure about how it sounded and went ahead with ‘Ambajipeta’ as a prefix instead. “A major part of the film is inspired by true incidents, some of them experienced by Dushyanth himself, while the rest is a blend of commercial liberties.” A major part of the film was shot in the mandal, after which it’s named.

“The locals were very kind and treated us like one among their own, handing over a glass of butter milk in steel glasses during shoot breaks and not charging the team for the meals. Whenever, anyone came forward to pay, they would get angry. ‘How can we ask money for a film that’s shot in our village?’ they said. Venkatesh’s hit Chanti was also shot in the same region and they blessed our team too.”

Shivani Nagaram auditioned for a friend’s role initially, but went onto play the leading lady eventually. “I was careful about my performance in her presence, I pushed my limits to match her. She was also a classical dancer/singer and I wondered how she would blend with the regular film crowd, but she surprised us all and we had a blast filming for the drama.”

Many of Suhas’ previous directors keep teasing him about his anxiety while shooting the romance segments. “They asked Dushyanth to be wary about my performance and said I was likely to irritate him (laughs). This is the only area (romance) where I trouble my directors. They keep telling me I could’ve done better, but I’m always a bunch of nerves.”

In a nutshell, the story of Ambajipeta Marriage Band revolves around two twins and an incident on their birthday that changes their life beyond repair. “Caste may come in the way of the film’s conflict, but it is more about ego clashes. It’s not at all similar to Colour Photo and it is not a tragedy.” The antagonist, played by Nitin, is a Malayalam actor who learnt Telugu just to play the part.

He’s still pinching himself about the prospect of acting in a film backed by Geetha Arts. “It feels surreal. My parents still can’t believe it. Allu Aravind was really happy with my performance.” Much like Writer Padmabhushan, the makers are organising paid premieres a day before its release. “Word of mouth is crucial for films like these and it gives us an edge.”

He’s slightly more relaxed as an actor for Ambajipeta.., compared to last year. “Colour Photo gave us a lot of hope, we were constantly worried about the sad ending, it received rave reviews and went onto win a national award later. I was not sure if it would translate into footfalls for Writer Padmabhushan. Thankfully, the producers made a lot of profits and it opened many doors for people.”

After Ambajipeta Marriage Band, Suhas has Prasanna Vadanam, a film helmed by an associate of Sukumar, which has already wrapped its shoot. Cable Reddy, directed by Sridhar Reddy, his old friend at Chai Bisket, is in the mid-way stages. He’s working on an OTT film for Dil Raju, an out-and-out comedy. “It’s a hilarious ride. I’ve never laughed so much on set in the recent times.”

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