Siddhu Jonnalagadda on ‘Tillu Square’: It will be familiar but more fun and wacky than ‘DJ Tillu’

Siddhu Jonnalagadda
| Photo Credit: Adrin Sequeira/Special Arrangement

Two years ago, before the release of the Telugu crime comedy DJ Tillu, actor-screenwriter Siddhu Jonnalagadda told this reporter that he wanted to be a star of a 100-crore film in the next three years. The statement came from a space of confidence. The 2022 Telugu comedy crime drama was a raging hit and its dialogues continue to have recall value. When we begin this interview for Tillu Square, scheduled to be released on March 29, Siddhu laughs heartily when reminded of his statement. 

The making of the sequel has been anything but easy. “It is a mixed bag of emotions,” he says. “DJ Tillu was a fresh outing and we did not anticipate it would become so huge. We began the sequel with a bigger goal and it was my responsibility to take it forward.”

Siddhu says there were days of high stress when he questioned his decision to take up the sequel. “There were also times when an episode would turn out so well that the effort seemed worth it. At the end of the day, what matters is whether I worked with honesty and was not driven only by the motive of becoming a star. We all tried to tell a story in an entertaining manner.” 

Street culture and philosophy

The character of DJ Tillu came from a combination of Siddhu’s experiences and observations in the neighbourhoods of Warasiguda, Chilkalguda and Malkajgiri areas of Secunderabad, with generous cinematic liberties. Siddhu describes the character as a reflection of street culture and philosophy. “If you observe carefully, Tillu was philosophical beneath those layers of wacky fun. But I did not want to be poetic or artistic about those philosophical statements. I chose sarcasm as a medium to convey his thoughts.” 

Siddhu discloses that there was no blueprint for a sequel. Plans were chalked out only after the audience connected with the first film. He and the production house Sithara Entertainments had wanted to work on another film but decided to take up the sequel first since it had good business potential. “We thought the risk would be higher but so would be the rewards. Only later did I realise that we jumped into a well without knowing its depth.”

Anupama Parameswaran and Siddhu Jonnalagadda in ‘Tillu Square’

Anupama Parameswaran and Siddhu Jonnalagadda in ‘Tillu Square’
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Director Vimal Krishna of DJ Tillu, meanwhile, was busy with another film since the sequel was not planned. Siddhu and Mallik Ram were to work on another film together and Siddhu suggested that Mallik steps in for the Tillu sequel. The writing, says Siddhu, was a collaborative process with the involvement of Ravi Anthony, Mallik and others.

The writing took time. Siddhu wrote the first draft for six months only to scrap it and start afresh. “When I narrated the story to a few people, they did not think it could be a sequel to DJ Tillu. When I stepped back and analysed it, I realised they were right. I started all over again.”

Ask Siddhu how many drafts they had for the final screenplay and he remarks, “Recently when I told a friend that the film’s runtime is about two hours, he remarked that I had material for four films but made one. That’s how much we kept writing and filtering. We wrote 600 to 700 pages. I think I have aged more in the last two years than in the last decade. The writing took a lot of effort.”

The constant spotlight on the making of the film made things tougher. Siddhu points out that several changes were made even during the making of DJ Tillu but it did not make headlines since not many knew about the film. “I would like to think of all the attention as perks that come with making a sequel of a successful film. After a point, I decided not to give those speculations the merit of my attention.”

To focus better on the writing process, Siddhu says he had to “regain consciousness of my hunger to write without being swayed by what was happening outside. We had to decide what aspects to retain from the original and what to change. We wanted the audience to have the familiarity of the first film and yet give them something new and more wacky.”

Constant state of chaos

Writing, rewriting and giving his inputs for editing, he says, “was a constant state of chaos in my head.” There were days he would observe a scene being filmed and think it had no place in the final edit. “Once, one of my co-stars noticed that I wasn’t going all out while performing and asked what was holding me back. I said maybe this scene may not be needed for the film. So sometimes, the filtering happened on sets.”

Tillu’s small world comprising his parents and friends will remain unchanged but he will face a new set of adventures with the arrival of a new character in the form of Lilly (Anupama Parameswaran). Anupama, says Siddhu, was the first choice for the female lead. “During the initial discussions, a few other names were considered. Even before we made a formal announcement, some of those names got leaked and we could not help it.”

Siddhu is aware that sequels are subject to comparisons and criticism and says, “We stuck to our gut instinct and tried to make a fun film and hope that the audience likes it. Irrespective of whether a film turns out to be a blockbuster on Friday or not, we have to move on to our next film on Monday.” 

Siddhu will move on with an untitled film he signed with director Nandini Reddy, Telusu Kada by costume designer-turned-director Neeraja Kona, Jack with Bommarillu Bhaskar, among others. “I wanted to ensure versatility and these will be completely different from the Tillu films. All my characters are vulnerable, have some flaws and insecurity that make them human.”

Crime Today News | Lifestyle & Fashion

Source | Powered by Yes Mom Hosting

Crime Today News

Welcome to Crime Today News, your trusted source for timely and unbiased news coverage. Since our inception in 2014, we have been dedicated to delivering the latest updates to our valued readers and viewers across Telangana.

Related Posts