Director Harish Shankar believes that opportunity to work with Allu Arjun is the realization of a 13-year-old dream. “I’ve been wanting to work with Bunny from the time I watched Arya. As they say, when you wish for something with all your heart, the universe conspires to give it to your,” says Harish, who is gung-ho about the prospects of Duvvada Jagannadham produced by Dil Raju under Sri Venkateshwara Creations, which is set for a massive release on June 23. Excerpts from a conversation.

The tile, Duvvada Jagannadham has a traditional Telugu ring to it…

Yes. Nowadays, a protagonist in Tollywood has very cosmopolitan names. But I’m a big fan of characters like Diwakaram from Vamsi sir’s films like April Okati Viduhudala etc., which have a lot of nativities. I first decided on Jagannadham and Duvvada came next. The day the title was announced, we got a thundering response from everyone.

Allu Arjun shed his Stylish Star image and transformed into a simple Brahmin boy for this film. Did he have to struggle a lot?

Oh yes! Bunny worked very hard to get into the skin of the protagonist, Duvvada Jagannadham. He underwent special training to get his diction right and even abstained from non-vegetarian food while preparing for the role. We wanted to ensure that the look and feel of the film are to quality. So we roped in Bollywood stylist Subarna Ray Chaudhuri who worked in Salman Khan’s’ Bajrangi Bhaijan and cinematographer Ayanaka Bose who worked in films like Kaabil, Kick and Dhishoom. His dedication is awe inspiring. That is why I think most directors want to work with him. Bunny’s performance is going to be a treat for the audience.

When the controversy over the usage of the phrase ‘Namakam Chamakam’ in the song, Gudilo Badilo Madilo… broke out, you strongly defended that there was nothing derogatory about it. Dil Raju announced that the lines were changed a couple of days later…

When the controversy first broke out, we consulted experts and got them to listen to the song. And they said there was a possibility, albeit a remote one of the lyrics being misinterpreted. So we had fresh lyrics written. What pains we most are to hear people complain that the lyrics are still not been changed. The original song must have been downloaded much time before we changed it and that could be the reason.

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