Varun Tej, Aditi Rao Hydari on bringing the space thriller genre to Telugu cinema

In 2017, when filmmaker Sankalp Reddy made his debut with the war drama Ghazi, it was more than enough to believe that he was on a quest to push the envelope, when it came to storytelling. War dramas are a rarity in Telugu Cinema and Ghazi, which dealt with how PNS Ghazi sank in the Bay of Bengal during the 1971 India-Pakistan war, was the showreel that Sankalp needed to dream big and convince everyone that he’s going to pull off ambitious ideas. Less than six months later, he had finished writing an early draft of his second feature film Antariksham, and this time, the drama unfolds in space where a bunch of Indian astronauts race against time to save the world.

Anthariksham : Behind the launch

Admittedly, it was a news article that urged Sankalp to write the story of Antariksham, and he vehemently denies rumours that the film is inspired by other space dramas like Gravity or Tik Tik Tik. The first time when Sankalp met Varun Tej to pitch him the idea, the actor recalls being fascinated with the director’s narration technique. “He brought along a few miniature rockets and satellites to explain what he had in his mind. I loved the idea and we decided to work together. Since he had already made Ghazi, I was confident that he could pull it off. More than thinking about how we are going to shoot the film, the look, the sets, and costumes, our initial discussions were more about finding an emotional hook to the story. Telugu audiences aren’t use to this genre (space thriller), so we had to add quite a few layers to make it relevant for our audience,” Varun Tej recalls, adding, “Thankfully, everyone knows about ISRO, and the rocket launch centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. But at the same time, the subject itself is quite universal.”