Nizar Shafi’s debut film as director is ‘Seven’, which is releasing on June 5 in both Telugu and Tamil. In this interview, the cinematographer-turned-director talks about the biggest strengths of ‘Seven’, what the audience can expect from it and more.
Starring Havish, Rehman, Regina Cassandra, Anisha Ambrose, Pujitha Ponnada, Aditi Arya, Nandita Swetha and Tridha Choudhary, the film has music by Chaitan Bharadwaj and cinematography by Shafi himself.
Take us through your background and when the idea of turning a director sprouted in your mind.
Even during my days at a film institute in Chennai, I did have the wish. When I came across the storyline of ‘Seven’, I was thoroughly impressed with it. The offer to do direction came to me suddenly. I didn’t want to lose the opportunity. I have been associated with the Telugu film industry right since ‘Bhale Bhale Mogadivoy’. Director Maruthi garu contacted me for the movie after he watched a 2012 Tamil film of mine. I was doing ‘Sailaja Reddy Alludu’ during the making of ‘Seven’. For many days, I had to work in two shifts on these movies. I was busy travelling between Chennai and Hyderabad and couldn’t even get time to sleep. Even though I was brought up in Chennai, language has never been a difficulty for me while doing Telugu movies.
‘Seven’ has been touted as a romantic thriller. What are its biggest highlights in your opinion?
It’s a romantic thriller that is also a visual treat. The night-effect shots will be a highlight. Since this one is a thriller, there was always a lot of chance to explore through cinematography.
A major strength of the film is the story itself. Once producer Ramesh Varma garu gave me his storyline, a team, including me, developed it into a full-fledged story. Once he gave the storyline, he didn’t interfere. It became my product. ‘Seven’ is an investigative thriller, too. Rehman has played an ACP through whose perspective the story starts unfolding. We are releasing the film simultaneously in both Telugu and Tamil.
You have been a technician. As an experienced cinematographer, what did you bring to the table as a debutant director?
Since I have been a cinematographer, I have hands-on experience with shot visualization. Shot division became easy while doing ‘Seven’. Moreover, since I am both its director and cinematographer, nothing was lost in communication. I knew what I was visualizing and what I was getting. There would be no mismatch.
There are not two or three but six heroines here. And romantic scenes aplenty. Tell us about the difficulties involved in terms of writing and execution.
Everything was clearly written in the pre-production stage. A new heroine enters the screen every 20 minutes. Each of the girls is important and relevant to the story. Everybody of us is totally happy with the output.
Yes, there are many lip-locks and they are a part of the love scenes in the movie. It was my plan to have such moments. Six girls plus the hero (Havish) make it seven. These are the seven characters from the eyes of Rehman, who is the ACP investigating a crime.
Chaitan Bharadwaj’s music has been praised by Havish. Three songs are going to be a part of the movie. Can you tell us about the BGM?
Apart from being a visual treat, ‘Seven’ has also got excellent background music. You know, when it comes to thrillers, BGM plays a very crucial role.
Now that you are a director, what will happen to your cinematography career? What are your immediate plans on the filmmaking front?
I have committed myself to do cinematography for a few projects. Even though I have turned a director, I don’t see any issues with me continuing to do cinematography. There won’t be any ego clashes with any director because I always have healthy creative discussions with my directors.
As for direction, I have 2-3 ideas in mind. One of them is a love story. Another one is a thriller. As a director, I also love horrors.