After the success of `Yatra’ that focused on the 1500 km long padyatra of the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy, director Mahi Raghav is planning a sequel. This one with another padyatra, a longer one of YS Jaganmohan Reddy who walked 3648 km from Kadapa to Srikakulam over 341 days, meeting 2 crore people at the heart of the movie. But largely it will be Jagan’s story from 2009 when YSR passed away to 2019 when he became CM of Andhra Pradesh.
“Jagan has already written his own script. From his position as CM’s son to his downfall to his success. There is not much left for me as a screenplay writer. The antagonists in his life are well-known. There is perfect material existing in the public domain. We just need to capture the drama on celluloid,” says Mahi Raghav.
Unlike `Yatra’ that did not show Chandrababu Naidu, this one will have a fleshed out character of the Telugu Desam chief. Another character who is likely to feature prominently will be Sonia Gandhi whose dramatic confrontation with Jagan and his mother Vijayamma in June 2010, set the stage for his exit from the Congress party.
In the run-up to the Andhra elections, two biopics – `Yatra’ and `NTR’ – released within months of each other. While the former in which Malayalam superstar Mammootty played YSR, had a favorable reception, `NTR’ was panned for not being completely honest with NTR’s life and leaving out the August 1995 part where he is overthrown by Chandrababu Naidu and his death. Nandamuri Balakrishna who played NTR in the film could not have shown anything that was unflattering to Naidu as their children are now married to each other. Balakrishna is also the TDP legislator from Hindupur.
In contrast, Raghav says Jagan did not interfere or suggest any changes to `Yatra’ when he saw the movie.
“He liked it. But he told us, he is your leader, it is your interpretation of your leader. I cannot tell you what to do,” reveals Raghav.
After the YSRCP’s landslide victory, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap had tweeted, calling Jagan’s story “a brilliant film waiting to be made”. But Raghav is not bothered about other filmmakers also jumping into the story.
“Most screen writers would be excited by Jagan’s story. In my case, I know the family closely. My mother hails from a place very close to Pulivendula (Jagan’s home and constituency) so I know the lingo and the ethos of the area,” says Raghav.
Raghav already has about 30 per cent of the material for the film on Jagan that he had written while making `Yatra’.
“The story of Jagan could not be told without telling the story of YSR. In my mind, I treat it as one movie, told in two parts. In fact, in 2011, I had registered Yatra as the story of the father and son as my debut film but I thought it was too ambitious to attempt it at that point in time,” says Raghav.
Tamil actor Suriya has been reported by a section of the media to have evinced interest in playing Jagan should the script be good. Raghav is not getting that far yet, saying most professional actors get excited by the quality of the script, not by the real life character.
“How we convinced Mammootty Sir, we will do the same. He did not know YSR much but he liked the script. He told me, don’t call it a biopic, call it a story, a proper commercial story. Jagan’s story has much more drama in it, the story of a rebel, an underdog character,” says Raghav.
But before he starts work on `Yatra 2′, Raghav has to get an action drama flick tentatively titled `Syndicate’ out of the way. With that film scheduled for a 2021 summer release, the Jagan movie is more likely to be released just in time for the 2024 elections.