Sneak peek into the world of ‘Ardha Shathabdham’

Director Rawindra Pulle, actors Karthik Rathnam, Naveen Chandra and Sai Kumar on how the Telugu film ‘Ardha Shathabdham’ explores the societal disrespect to the Constitution of India

The trailer of the new Telugu film Ardha Shathabdham, which will stream on Aha from July 11, indicates a love story amid caste differences. Writer-director Rawindra Pulle asserts that his film is more than a love story. In a virtual media meet, he explains that the story looks at the societal disrespect to the tenets of the Constitution of India.

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Filmed in Nirmal and nearby areas of Nizamabad in Telangana, Ardha Shathabdham’s story is set in 2003. “There’s no hero and heroine, but actors who portray strong characters,” says Rawindra.

The ensemble cast includes Karthik Rathnam, newcomer Krishnapriya, Naveen Chandra, Sai Kumar, Aamani, Subhalekha Sudhakar and Raja Ravindra. Initially expected to release in theatres, the film now takes the OTT route to reach viewers.

The songs, composed by Nawfal Raja Asi, have managed to get the film noticed prior to its release.

Romance brews between the characters played by Karthik Rathnam and Krishnapriya, and the director reinstates that there are different things at play — the love that some of the prime characters have towards their ideals.

Karthik was chosen due to his bravura performance in his debut film Care of Kancharapalem (2018) and Krishnapriya, who hails from Kerala, landed the role when the production team stumbled upon her Instagram account and invited her for an audition.

“I play a fun-loving guy from a lower middle class family who likes a girl, and an incident shapes his character’s journey,” Karthik begins to elaborate, and gets gently chided by his co-stars to not reveal anything more.

Swiftly changing tracks, Karthik talks about what it meant to work with experienced actors — Naveen Chandra whom he admired since Andhala Rakshasi and Sai Kumar, whose dialogues he would recite as a child to get rid of stage fear.

Naveen Chandra, whose significant OTT release during the pandemic was the romance drama Bhanumathi & Ramakrishna (2020), says he had his hands full when Ardha Shathabdham was offered to him. He liked the police officer character he was asked to portray and was determined to make time for the film: “The reference point given to me was that of IPS officer [Chadalavada] Umesh Chandra whose statue I would pass by in S R Nagar, Hyderabad.”

The actor is quick to state that his character is fictional and the real-life reference was in the context of how a police officer carries out his duties amid political interference or caste/social differences.

Growing up in Bellary, Karnataka, Naveen recalls watching Sai Kumar’s Kannada films in awe, particularly Agni IPS. Naveen also had a word of praise for Karthik and Krishnapriya for going through a gruelling schedule in Nirmal during summer.

Sudhakar, whose character in the Telugu film Johaar (2020) was that of a freedom fighter hoping for empathy at a time of social disdain, treads on a somewhat similar path in this film, hoping that the Constitution will continue to be respected: “There are many characters in this story that want to do good, but are limited by their circumstances,” he says.

Sai Kumar states that after Prasthanam where he enacted a dialogue-heavy character thanks to director Deva Katta, Ardha Shathabdham gave him the scope for more dialogues. He plays the heroine’s father; cast opposite him is Aamani who avers that this film is a welcome addition to her new innings. “I liked the story and agreed to do the film. I was even more impressed with how it had shaped up when I saw the footage during the dubbing,” she shares.

Produced by Chitti Kiran Ramoju and Radha Krishna, Ardha Shathabdham premières on Aha on June 11.

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