“When I started 20 years ago as Assistant Director, I had great aspirations. I worked with directors like Sekhar Kammula and Nagesh Kukunoor on the evolving films of the time like ‘Hyderabad Blues’ and ‘Dollar Dreams’. Then, I became a producer. Today, I am able to do what I perceive. I did have set backs. Before ‘Oh Baby’ I did ‘Bangaru Kodipetta’ which people said was ahead of its time. I have seen financial troubles. But every day you learn something new and apply it in your next project. That is the beauty of film field or even print, television or digital – with each lesson you keep on sharpening your intuition,” she shares.

The creative producer as she prefers to call herself for all right reasons saw a Korean film – ‘Midnight Runners’ and decided that she has to remake it into Telugu. The film speaks about a crime not referred to in Indian films until then – ‘Egg Harvesting’. She decided to produce the film under her Guru Films banner with Suresh Productions, which is also where she worked in the initial years when she first left behind her career in television to get into films.

Somewhere along the way she decided to remake ‘Midnight Runners’ her way. She will not have two heroes protecting women being exploited and unlike the original it is two women trainee officers who set out to protect women and bust the egg harvesting mafia in her film. She calls this empowering and credits the women in her team for the idea.

The decision to make a film with women as lead is double the hard work, especially to promote. “It was after ‘U Turn’ – Samantha said it is difficult to promote a female oriented film. For this film, we had star heroines with us, the characters are right, the story is good, and I knew we had to take it forward in the right direction.”

Sunita and her team not just remodelled the film; she personally stood like rock with her director Sudheer Verma to ensure the film has all commercial elements and yet is female centric and has championed for it with all her might. “Sudheer is a producer’s director. He knew what we wanted and promised to deliver it within the time frame.”
“The film has a script that helps you stay positive and light hearted despite the seriousness of subject. Without humour there is no humanity. We started with open intent and what turned out is better.”

The film – first of its kind in more than one way released to great response followed by amazing reception on OTT. Immediately in the next week after ‘Saakini Daakini’, yet another film – ‘Dongalunnaru Jagratha’ under Guru Films banner released. It is a survival drama conceptualised during Covid lockdown where the entire film happens inside a car. The film is also a commentary on petty thefts that majorly go unreported but end up having life changing impact on people affected.

Her earlier films like ‘Sahasame Swasaga Saagipo’ and ‘Bangaru Kodipetta’ were critically acclaimed as well. But, the confidence to do what she believes in has increased with her ‘Oh Baby’, she admits. With actor Samantha Ruth Prabhu in the lead and Nandini Reddy wielding the mega phone – the film ‘Oh Baby’ had the best team behind it, and an entertaining premise – also a Korean film remake but fitting into the cultural fabric of Telugu people, the film went on to become a massive hit – which surely shifted the fortunes for Sunita.

“‘Oh Baby’ is a ticket that allows me go everywhere. There is a validation to what I do now. When I identified the film, and was able to convince a talented actor like Samantha to do the film, that itself gave me confidence. The world of ‘Oh Baby’ is all about Sam’s charm and Nandini’s talent. Today the reach of the film is such that a German film production wanted to reach out to Lakshmi garu to check if she will do a role for them.”

She explains her love for Korean films. “When I wanted to bring world cinema to India, I saw that the Italians, Spanish people and Korean emotions are similar to us. They are also family oriented and you see the entire families, especially grandparents together at airports like in India. Their emotions are similar. I especially I like Korea – as a country It is a small, perhaps the size of our state, but has progressed in such a short time. And then there is this whole love for K drama across the world. I am proud to be part of the journey.”

That said Sunita is all set to introduce a new director in a straight Telugu film. “I will also be directing a film, and we will be doing three original productions for OTT out of which one is a feature film. There are also remakes lined up,” she relates.

While she does understand that a cinema is more for entertainment and cinematic experience rather than learning life lessons – her brand of films in recent times deliver an important message tucked into the commercial format.

She explains, “Audience is changing, and we have to respect that. They are the final and only decision makers. If quality parameters have changed, we need to check and change. It has to be Personal Perspective Reverse Engineered for the sake of the audience,” she states.