Debutant director Sujeeth, who is awaiting the release of forthcoming Telugu romantic actioner "Run Raj Run", says he was never concerned about his age before entering films as he firmly believes talent is the deciding factor for survival in the industry.
"I started making short films since I was 17. I never felt I was too young to make films. When I finally landed an opportunity to make a feature film, I realised talent is all you need to be in the industry and age never concerned me," the 24-year-old told IANS.
"My age was of concern for some people around me in the industry. While the creative unit of my film realised that I possess some talent and, therefore, I've been chosen to direct a film, the production unit was envious of my position. But all that changed as we started working as a team," he said.
In fact, Sujeeth, who has a film degree from LV Prasad Film & TV Academy, was supposed to make his directorial debut at 22.
"I was signed on to direct a Telugu film at 22. One week before the start of the film's shooting; it was shelved for various reasons. I didn't let it affect me and I went back to making short films. I have made over 30 short films in my career so far," he said.
He says working on short films helped him to be a better director.
"Short films nurtured the director in me. When studying in LV Prasad Film Institute, we would be asked to make short films on a limited budget, time and a few cameras. That experience had come in very handy on this film's production department," Sujeeth said.
"I had also formed a small set of audiences with my short films. I've already been catering to them for the last few years. When 'Run Raja Run' releases in cinemas, they are definitely going to watch and support me," he added.
"Run Raja Run", which will hit the screens Friday, features Sharwanand and Seerat Kapoor in the lead. It is produced by UV Creations.
"The title of the film represents that everything in the film runs after a point right from the lead character to the screenplay. It starts as a romantic entertainer but suddenly gets transformed into an action film in the second half," he said.
Sujeeth chose to work with Sharwanand because he finds him "underrated".
"My producers would have got me any actor but I chose to work with Sharwa because he's considered underrated. I wanted to prove that notion about him wrong. Had I done this project with any actor, it would have been a routine film," he said.
"I decided to work with newcomer Seerat because my film doesn't have an extraordinary role for the heroine. Therefore, I didn't want to cast someone popular and instead wanted to give an opportunity to a debutant to prove herself," he added.
What was your biggest challenge?
"The biggest challenge was not to allow people to judge me by my age. I didn't want my producers, hero Sharwa and experienced technicians such as cinematographer Madhie to feel like they were working with a kid. I somehow managed to satisfy them and I'm extremely happy about it," he said.