The trailer of Vimanam, a Telugu-Tamil bilingual film starring Samuthirakani as the protagonist, indicates an emotional story of father-son bonding. Samuthirakani plays a differently-abled father who wants to fulfil his son’s dream of a journey aboard an aeroplane, though he cannot afford the tickets. Siva Prasad Yanala, who has written and directed the film that releases in theatres on June 9, is best known as one of the writers for the Telugu comedy television show Jabardasth.
Siva Prasad has a hearty laugh when asked about his writing credits for two very different projects. “Jabardasth fetched me a name in television circles and helped me earn a steady income. Now I want to tell stories my way,” he says, during this interview in Hyderabad. Like comedy actor-writer Venu Yeldandi who sprung a surprise with Balagam, does Siva Prasad hope to make a mark with his directorial debut Vimanam? “The response to the private screenings in different cities has been good so far and I am waiting to see how the audience will react to the film once it is released.”
The source material for Vimanam, Siva Prasad recalls, came from a personal space. A few years ago, he used to live in the Balanagar area in the vicinity of Begumpet airport. “My four-year-old son used to be fascinated with the sight of aircraft. Many times I would lift him on my shoulders so that he could get a better view of the aircraft. He was keen to get into an aircraft and I told him that I would take him on a flight.”
Siva Prasad sensed a story possibility. He began writing about a father desperate to fulfil his son’s wishes amid several challenges. “In the film, Samuthirakani is differently abled, has limited finances and there are other challenges. The way I looked at my father changed once my son was born. I have tried to bring my observations about the father-son bond in this story.” If Vimanam seems emotional, Siva Prasad says the subplot involving Anasuya Bharadwaj and Rahul Ramakrishna tempers the more serious main plot.
Actor Dhanraj, with whom Siva Prasad had worked for television, was the first to hear the story and facilitated a meeting with Samuthirakani. Kiran Korrapati and Zee Studios joined hands to produce the film and Vimanam went on floors in late 2022. “We filmed in real locations as well as a special set — planned byJ.K. Murthy — which would resemble a slum in the vicinity of the airport. The story is set in 2008 before the Hyderabad airport moved from Begumpet to Shamshabad. I also wanted a pre-smartphone period when booking flight tickets or searching for ticket prices was not so easy.”
Siva Prasad hails from a middle-class agriculture family in Yadannapudi, near Karamchedu, Andhra Pradesh. He remembers being drawn to Chiranjeevi films. “In my village, people would get up from their seats and dance to Chiranjeevi songs. The appeal of cinema made me think I should be a part of it.” His friend Rasool identified his storytelling abilities and Siva Prasad was determined to become a director. His parents were sceptical and Siva Prasad pursued M.Sc in Computer Science in Thanjavur before pursuing his writing dreams in cinema.
He went through a period of struggle like any aspiring writer. He admits it was tough to make ends meet. Jabardasth changed the tide. “I used to work in the script team of producer Dil Raju and then got the opportunity for Jabardasth. I wrote for Chammak Chandra, Venu Yeldandi, Rocket Raghava, Dhanraj and Mukku Avinash. Soon I was in demand, if I may say so myself. It gave me confidence. At one point I began earning ₹30,000 and it went up to ₹80,000. I had never earned so much.”
After five years, Siva Prasad was saturated and was keen to write and direct his own film. Post Vimanam, he plans to start working on his next film. There are big dreams but he wants to see how the audience reacts to his work.