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“Chatrapathi belongs to that genre of cinema I grew up watching and loving” – Mayur Puri – Planet Bollywood

Released in the year 2005, the S. S. Rajamouli directed ‘Chatrapathi’ was a massive commercial success. The Telugu language actioner has been remade into Hindi with the same name and releases in the theatres today. The dialogues for the Hindi remake have been written by Mayur Puri who has penned immensely popular dialogues for many Hindi films in the past including ‘Om Shanti Om’, ‘ABCD’ and ‘ABCD 2’.

Writing Hindi dialogues and localizing Hollywood films releasing in India kept Mayur busy for the last few years. With the Bellamkonda Sai Sreenivas – Nushrratt Bharuccha starrer ‘Chatrapathi’, he is back to writing Hindi films.

One will be getting to hear your dialogues in a Hindi film after a long time.

Yes, ‘Chatrapathi’ has been my first major release as a dialogue writer since ‘ABCD 2’. I wrote the script for a few films in between but some of them got shelved and a few didn’t release. I am happy to have got back to writing for Hindi films with a film like this. 

How did you get on board for ‘Chatrapathi’?

Suresh Bellamkonda ji, who is the producer of the film, was enquiring about dialogue writers in Mumbai. Safdar Abbas, who is the associate director on the film, had assisted Abbas – Mustan on a bunch of films. We had worked together on ‘Race 2’. Since he was familiar with my body of work, he recommended my name for the film. I had a meeting with Suresh Bellamkonda ji and director V. V. Vinayak sir and we got along very well. They asked me to watch the original ‘Chatrapathi’. I watched the film and really liked it. It was a very well-made masala film.

I got the opportunity to work with some brilliant people on the script. Mahadev, who works as an associate director with Vinayak sir, worked with me very closely. We couldn’t have made the same film again. We had to make sure the story we were trying to tell would be relevant for today’s audience. I worked on the script for several days in Hyderabad.  

You have also written three out of the four songs on the album. How was the experience of working on the music of the film?

Tanishk was Safdar’s friend. It was Safdar’s idea to get Tanishk to do the entire soundtrack. Tanishk flew down to Hyderabad and created a couple of tunes after listening to the script. Since I was there as well, Tanishk asked me to write the songs so that we could present them to the director. We ended up three songs quickly.

‘Bareilly Ke Bazaar’, which was the first song to come out, is a celebration song. Since the film is not in an urban world, I wrote lines that had a rustic feel to them. The film is set in Gujarat, so I got the chance to write a song like ‘Gamey Gamey’ which had a few Gujarati lines. Though I grew up in Gujarat and worked extensively with music directors like Sachin-Jigar who hail from the same state, I never got the opportunity to do a song with a Gujarati flavour. The third song I wrote for the film is called ‘Shukriya’. It is a romantic number which has a beautiful tune. The fourth song is called ‘Window Taley’ and has been written by Shabbir Ahmed. Through the music of the film, we have a paid a tribute to the music of the ‘90s.

This was the first time you worked with Tanishk Bagchi.

Yes! I had a great time working with Tanishk. I feel we will work a lot together in the near future. I have worked with very few music directors. I have done most of my work as a lyricist with Pritam and Sachin-Jigar. I gelled very well with Tanishk. It doesn’t happen with everybody. People associate him with recreations. However, his original songs have been huge hits as well.

V. Vijayendra Prasad had written the script for the original film. Did you get to interact with him while writing the dialogues for the Hindi remake?

We took Vijayendra sir’s inputs and he guided us through the adaptation process as well. There is a very important dialogue in the original film. When I met him for the first time, he asked me how I was planning to adapt that particular dialogue in Hindi. I shared my ideas with him and he was very happy.

It is quite rare to see an actor from the Telugu film industry headline the Hindi remake of a Telugu film.

The makers opted for a ‘hybrid filmmaking’ approach with ‘Chatrapathi’. Since we were making a Hindi film, a lot of actors like Bhagyashree ma’am, Nushratt, Rajesh Sharma were from the Hindi film industry. Sreenivas’ Telugu films, which have been dubbed in Hindi, are hugely popular with the Hindi film audience. Sreenivas’ first film was directed by Vinayak and therefore, he had a very good equation with him. Safdar Abbas, the associate director, is from Mumbai. The film has been shot in Hyderabad, Vizag and Gujarat. For a particular schedule, they had got an action director from Tamil Nadu. So, people from different industries have worked on this film.

‘Chatrapathi’ belongs to that genre of cinema I grew up watching and loving. It is a massy film that offers a lot of entertainment. There is good music, friendship, mother-son relationship and dangerous villains. It is a very well-packaged commercial entertainer. The film has been mounted very well. I am happy to be coming back as a dialogue writer with a film which I like watching.

Sreenivas Bellamkonda is a popular face down South. He has had quite a good run in the Telugu film industry. What, according to you, will help him strike a chord with a pan-India audience?

When I started working on this film, I was not overly familiar with Sreenivas’ body of work. Slowly, I discovered all the wonderful work he had done. During the scripting stage, he would sit with us and listen to our thoughts and ideas keenly. He is very humble and hard working. One thing I love about Sreenivas is that he has a lot of respect for cinema, technicians and the process of making a film. He is a good actor, fights very well and dances like a dream. Right before the interval, he had to deliver a one and a half page long soliloquy. He performed it very well. He has worked very hard on his diction. He believes in massy cinema and that’s why he excels in this space. 

Do you plan to write screenplays and dialogues for films more frequently now?

Yes, I am working on a few scripts already. While working on ‘Chatrapathi’, Safdar Abbas and I developed a very strong bond. I have written the dialogues for a film that has been directed by him. The film was shot in Lucknow last year and has been presented by Jayantilal bhai. It is an action film and is in the post-production stage at the moment. I am working on a couple of scripts which I plan to direct myself.  

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