Nandini Reddy, the director of Ala Modalaindi, is the talk of the town these days. The success of her debut film has given boost to small budget filmmakers that if you have an honest story to narrate, then there’s a huge audience too. Hemanth Kumar strikes a conversation with her and finds out about how Ala Modalaindi began and a lot more…

“You are nobody until you score a hit. Unless you are a big shot’s relative, you are disposable and dispensable at any point of time. That’s the bottom line,” says Nandini Reddy pouring her heart out about her 15-year stint so far in the Telugu film industry. The only difference is that no one considers her a ‘nobody’ anymore, thanks to her film, Ala Modalaindi which was the first surprise hit of the year. The rom-com, reportedly made with a budget of Rs 3 crores, is expected to make a profit of more than Rs 3-4 crores.

This political science grad from JNU, New Delhi, has every reason to smile these days. But it wasn’t too long ago when she had to dabble in RJing and TV to make a living while she was trying to break through the filmdom. “I assisted Gunnam Gangaraju for Little Soldiers and later joined Krishna Vamsi’s team. I worked under him from Chandralekha to Khadgam,” she recalls. Not many know that she had convinced Karishma Kapoor and Sonali Bendre to remake My Best Friend’s Wedding, but had to drop the project because Yash Raj Films was already making Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai. This was back in 2002, when Krishna Vamsi was making Shakti with Karishma Kapoor and Shahrukh Khan. So, when exactly did she realize that she had to go solo and make a film on her own? “It was actually Krishna Vamsi who asked how long I planned to assist him. That really got me motivated and since then I have been trying to make a film.” Later, Krishna Vamsi sent her to Suresh Babu to whom she narrated quite a few stories but things didn’t work out in the end. Khadgam was the last film she assisted Krishna Vamsi and it’s been more than eight years since that film released. What took her so long? “I kept meeting producers and some projects were almost locked in, some were even ready for takeoff, but never managed to,” she says adding, “Most of the times, you just hit a brick wall and you have to find a way to bounce back. Unless you have that quality, I would strongly advise you to keep away from this industry. Resilience is the only thing which will keep you going. You just have to go like a squash ball, slam the wall and come back and go at it again till you find your way out of the tunnel.”

And then Ala Modalaindi happened. “I narrated the storyline to my best friend, Anjana Ali Khan during the pre-production of her debut film Veppam. I am a very lazy writer. Either I write very fast or I don’t write at all, so she forced me to write a script within 10 days. The first person I went and narrated it to was Nani and he thought it was terrific,” she recalls. Later, she met her friend Kalyani Malik, also the music director of the film, who in turn took her to KL Damodhar Prasad, the producer of the film. Nani and Nandini have known each other for quite some time. No wonder he was her first choice to play the role of Gautham in her film. Nani had already carved his niche in the industry with films like Ashta Chemma, Ride, Bheemli Kabaddi Jattu and he couldn’t be happier when he was offered this role. “The biggest danger for an actor like me is to get stereotyped with particular roles at the beginning of the career. Luckily, I have crossed that obstacle,” enthuses Nani. Nandini adds, “Nani is an awesome actor to work with. He’s like clay, you can mould him however you want.”

Apart from Nani and Nandini, the other N in the film, Nithya Menen was the biggest surprise of the film. Her finesse at acting, singing and even dubbing made her an overnight sensation and she’s being flooded with offers. The chemistry between Nani and Nithya was magical. The duo’s destinies are intertwined and after months of playing hide and seek, they confess their love for each other. A perfect script for a love story! The duo would soon be seen in Anjana Ali Khan’s Veppam. Is that a pure coincidence? We ask Nandini if she believes in coincidence and destiny. “I am a great believer in destiny. There have been some weird coincidences in my life. Anjana and I got into films together; we got offers and faced similar rejections. Just like me, she found her producer through a music director friend of hers and every time she faces some problem in her project, I would be facing the same problem here. And Nani and Nithya are acting in her film too… there are a million coincidences,” she reveals, adding, “I believe people who are connected in their lives, there could be coincidences between them. I believe films are an extension of your personality. I like to believe that I have had a cinematic life.” Even Nani believes in such coincidences. In 2007, when he hadn’t made his onscreen debut yet, he had gone to Goa Film Festival along with Nandini and Anjana. The trio decided that the next time they visit the film festival, at least one of them should have made a breakthrough in films. Voila! There are more coincidences which Nandini points out, “The freakiest thing is that Nani and I kept appearing at television shows in identical clothes. I cannot tell you how much it happens, it’s ridiculous. I keep telling him that we look like waiters.”



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