Venkatesh Maha, director of Telugu films Care of Kancharapalem and Uma Maheshwara Ugra Roopasya, has opted to take the crowdfunding route for his third feature film, Marmaanuvu. He made the announcement recently on social media, stating that crowdfunding would help him make the film in an independent manner. He also put out a video delineating his journey in cinema, from his teens as a theatre actor to directing short films and finally full-length features. The film’s website, marmaanuvu.com, reveals a few pages from the script. Maha describes Marmaanuvu as “a psychological thriller with magical realism, with the tone of a dark comedy.” The crowdfunding campaign to raise ₹6.5 crore opened on September 7.
The first few pages of the script of Marmanuvvu (a name Venkatesh Maha coined by bringing together two Telugu words — marmam and anuvu, denoting mystery and atom) introduces readers to a mansion named Bhuvanayalam, in 1991. A wall has several photographs of the Bhuvanam clan. While most photographs show the family perfectly poised befitting their aristocratic background, one photograph stands out. One night, eerie events occur that would pique the curiosity of the reader.
Maha explains that ₹6.5 crore is the prerequisite for making the film. “We can cut corners on a few other areas such as remuneration, for instance, but we need this amount to execute the project. Once we raise sufficient funds, we will begin pre-production.”
A few crowdfunded Indian films
Shyam Benegal’s Hindi film Manthan, for which 50000 farmers contributed ₹2 each.
Lucia, Kannada, directed by Pawan Kumar
Manu, Telugu, by Phanindra Narisetti
An Insignificant Man by Anand Gandhi
Baskar Hazarika’s Assamese film Kothanodi
Abhay Kumar’s documentary Placebo
Rajat Kapoor’s Hindi film Rk/Rkay
Through the ‘join us’ option on the Marmaanuvu website, his team has received more than 500 mails from film enthusiasts who have expressed interest to crowdfund the project. “We plan to audition actors for different roles. I would like to bring in talented theatre actors. For the main character, we will need a very good actor and if actors who are already in the industry express interest, we are open to that option as well,” says Maha.
For those wondering why someone like Maha who has directed two feature films, one short in an anthology (Modern Love Hyderabad) and also acted in a few mainstream Telugu films, would find it difficult to find a producer who would back his vision, the director says, “Such struggles are common for artistes. I have no complaints against anyone in the industry.”
The crowdfunding portal also mentions ‘perks and rewards’ for those who intend to contribute larger amounts. “We will have one-on-one discussions with them about their expectations with the project and see how we can collaborate.”
Marnaanuvu will be an entertainer, says Maha, and adds that he will not let anyone down. “I do not mean only those who pitch in with the funds, but also the film-loving audience.”