Director Sesha Sindhu Rao is well known for her Telugu film Choosi Choodangaane. The feel good movie found a place within the audience’s hearts, primarily owing to the director.
With this clean romantic debut, she proved herself as one of the most versatile film directors in India. Sesha Sindhu has many other roles in her kitty, having worked behind the scenes for many films. She was even an assistant cameraman for a few films in the Telugu Film Industry.
She is a staunch believer in women empowerment and encourages women to reach their goals. In fact, the majority of the crew members for Choosi Choodangaane are women. Sesha Sindhu feels proud to be part of such an amazing film.
Family comes first
Sesha Sindhu was born to Mr. Y.V.S. Chalapathi Rao and Mrs. Sridevi at the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on January 27. Her father used to work for the central government of UAE. Her mother was a well known Novelist, who had departed early to God’s abode.
A middle child, Sesha Sindhu has two sisters, all born in UAE. They returned to India when she was in 5th standard. Elder sister happens to be an actor and has done production design for the film Choosi Choodangaane. Younger sister is an aspiring singer and has acted in a few short films. She plans to venture into other departments of filmmaking too.
The formative years
Sesha Sindhu has a very strong educational background. Her schooling was split across 3 different schools, the first in Dubai. A scientific mind, she chose Bi.P.C in her Intermediate and completed it from Sri Chaitanya Narayanaguda. Further, she earned an engineering biotech degree from CMR college of engineering.
Through those years, Sesha Sindhu had many memories. Even a single day wasn’t wasted as she says everyday is different and memorable. She has been a certified movie buff since early childhood. Her love for cinema resulted in her growing up on a diet of Shah Rukh Khan movies. Subsequently, he became her inspiration to enter the film industry. As her favorite actor, Shah Rukh made an impact on her decision to enter films since childhood. Sesha Sindhu never shared this until after her first day of shoot of her first film.
As a child she was the loudest and naughtiest wherever she went. Her parents always received complaints for her behaviour. She was a very social person and made many friends throughout her life. She can confidently say that a lot of them stuck around, barring a few who left. She had an easy and fun childhood with a known routine.
Her UAE school finished by noon, after which she used to watch a film everyday with family. They watched the first half after lunch and the second half at dinner with homework and games in between. Sesha Sindhu and her sisters watched almost every old Hindi and Telugu movie. Every week, they watched a new release at the theater.
Describing what is a set lifestyle, she elaborates further on her fun escapades to meet family friends at their houses over the weekend. However, the shift to Hyderabad marked a big change. And yet, here too, her mother used to take them for films. In a hilarious insight, Sesha Sindhu shared that it was fun to watch The Mummy in Telugu.
While she and her younger sister enjoyed the multitude of bugs and mummies in the movie, her mother was visibly grossed out. Later, watching Tholi Prema made her fall in love with Telugu Cinema. It was very different from her earlier movie experiences. Funny enough, the first film she watched with friends was Nethi Gandhi. She says it was fun walking or cycling to sushma and sampoorna theatre to watch films.
Sesha Sindhu also describes her college days as ‘super fun.’ Elaborating, she says “I think there was not even a single movie that I missed watching in the theatres during this time. I covered every English, Hindi and Telugu movie that was released, even stood in line to get tickets from the RTC cross roads theatres.”
She used to watch two to three films at the theaters and a few at home. While excitedly remembering good memories, of which she has many, she prefers not to talk about the bad ones. In her sharp mind, she remembers all of the good memories, hence her difficulty in picking just one out.
Training on the job
Sesha Sindhu never attended film school. She took a more practical approach towards gaining knowledge by working in various departments. These include cinematography, art direction, costumes and more. She also tried acting to understand the process. While working for Director Krish as an assistant director, she shot for a short film during breaks.
Sesha Sindhu has the ability to laugh at herself as she describes that she was not at her best in the short film. “Thankfully it never came out,” she agrees. The stint still proved to help her understand the process a little. She truly enjoys every part of film making.
Fun activities of a fun-loving person
Sesha Sindhu is a people’s person. On a lighter note, she takes pleasure in dancing at Sangeets and Baraats. She is also an avid traveller. She loves to travel to beaches, mountains, forests and is a wildlife enthusiast.
Not one to restrict herself, she can also photograph and cook. Sesha Sindhu says she loves to cook and feed people. She even got back to reading during the lockdown, having read some classics in Telugu and English. Music also relaxes her.
A self proclaimed ‘partyholic,’ she adores spending time with friends. At this stage in her life, however, she feels she has mellowed down.
Journey towards her film goals
In an insightful thought, Sesha Sindhu shares that struggles are common in any industry. She doesn’t like to talk about them, but agrees it was a roller coaster ride.
She describes her journey through life as both funny and dramatic. She had initially planned to travel to Australia for a Master’s degree. It so happened that there was a delay in the admission process that deferred her admission by 6 months. These months changed her life. She is not one to take breaks or sit still for long.
Hence, she finished a course in photography and designing. In tune with her active mind, she attended an interview for an advertisement in Idlebrain. She says, “I didn’t get the job but I enjoyed talking about films with the director and made some contacts which opened new doors.”
The first day of shooting was quite dramatic, in her words. Without good grip on driving, she drove a car about 30kms to the set early in the morning. She was immediately in awe of the set and shoot. She worked in the cinematography department for the film ‘Money money more money.’
After the shoot, the DOP took her to Anand cine services and introduced her to the head. She was asked to coordinate the lights and equipment. Driving back home in heavy traffic was another challenge. Sesha Sindhu was apprehensive to tell her parents that she was an AC for a film, but the reaction was surprisingly pleasant.
After her first film as an AD, she met a director who was making his debut. During conversations, he suggested if she would be interested in joining his department. She promptly said yes.
However, after the first schedule, the film was shelved due to unfortunate incidents. After that, she was forced to take a short break because of an accident. Still, soon after her recovery, she landed an opportunity to work with Krish for Krishnam vande jagadgurum. Then she worked for Kumari 21f, in Sukumar Writings and she says she was fortunate to have had a few good mentors from whom she learned the craft and especially discipline. Once she decided to direct, she had done independent work.
While Shah Rukh Khan is her first inspiration, she grew up to understand films and decided to be a filmmaker. Her favourite directors include Vishwanath, Raj kumar hirani and David Fincher.
Grabbing the first chance
After deciding to direct, Sesha Sindhu happened to meet a group of upcoming film makers through a common friend who is a filmmaker too. Here, she met many people who were in the same boat. They watched movies, discussed, narrated scripts and received feedback to work on the next draft. With an established comfort zone, they not only worked hard, but also partied hard.
She shares, “I met a few friends there, Padma, Maha, Santosh, Vasanth, Vamsi, Chip, and somehow we started helping each other.” Padma and Sesha Sindhu wrote for Santosh’s project and gradually became best friends. They then started an association, travelled together and she was her assistant.
After she finished her first draft, she learnt that pitching a script to producers is quite a challenge. During this time, she made a pitch video of her script. All her friends helped in its making, which she forwarded to every person she knows from the film industry. It garnered a very good response and that’s how she landed her first film as a director – Choosi Choodangaane.
Sesha Sindhu explains that it was a great experience working with friends, especially with an excellent women’s team. The team consisted of her, her writer padma who happens to be her best friend, her sister shanti, who is an actor, but took care of production design for the film and sumanjali, the stylist who worked for the pitch video.
She says, “It was amazing how a team of women single handedly took care and managed the set. Padma is my support system and has always had my back and shanti and suma were my hands. I will cherish every moment of my first film.” She feels she is glad to have friends and family who stuck to her despite her shortcomings. Her film making friends attended her pre release event as guests and pulled each other’s legs on stage. The journey turned out everything like they have imagined since the time they started out.
Work so far
- As an AD: Money money more money, Krishnam vande jagadgurum, Kumari 21f. Two films were shelved.
- Directed two ads and short films.
- Feature film debut : Choosi Choodangaane, which released in theatres on January 31st 2020 and is now streaming on aha.
Success in Career has another definition
Sesha Sindhu decided she wants to make films irrespective of the result of the film. She honestly tells us, “I really don’t know what success is. I just want to be happy with what I make, what story I tell and at least few people appreciating it.” Bad reviews are alright she continues, but receiving a message from a stranger who watched and loved the film makes her truly happy.
She still receives at least one message everyday saying that they liked Choosi Choodangaane and it puts a smile on her face. “If I could do this for whatever stories I tell, I will be happy and I think that is success,” she concludes.
Philosophically she says that a road that you have is never smooth. It is bumpy. But if your destination is fixed, you will reach it no matter how bumpy the road is.
Multiple talents for a better future
Sesha Sindhu can not imagine any other profession except films. Consequently, if possible, she wants to produce films and maybe even cook for her crew during free hours. She has plans to open up a place in the Himalayas or Goa to escape for three months every year and then return to filmmaking. Travel is definitely on her agenda.
She is working on a few scripts under different genres. One is a thriller, while the other is a black comedy/action thriller .