Papa Rao Biyyala, a former Home Secretary of Assam and UN official, is embarking on a new journey as a film director with his debut project, “Music School,” featuring actors Sharman Joshi and Shriya Saran.
The film “Music School,” released in Hindi, Telugu, and Tamil, holds a unique significance in several aspects. Firstly, it stands out as a rare family-friendly entertainer in contemporary cinema, tackling the lesser-explored theme of stress among children. However, what truly sets it apart from other movies is the individual leading the project, Papa Rao Biyyala. As a first-time filmmaker, his unconventional path diverges from that of typical directors, encompassing a career as a civil servant and a tenure as a United Nations officer before venturing into the world of cinema.
Papa Rao Biyyala, popularly known as BVP Rao, is a distinguished figure who served as a member of the Indian Administrative Services, belonging to the 1982 batch. With a background in law and having pursued his studies at Osmania University, he decided to set aside his aspirations for a Ph.D. when he successfully qualified for the prestigious IAS. Throughout his career, Biyyala held various notable positions as an IAS officer across different regions of India. Notably, he served as the Home Secretary in Assam from 1994 to 1997 and subsequently contributed as a Civil Affairs Officer at the United Nations Mission in Kosovo in 1999. Additionally, from 2014 to 2019, he assumed the role of a policy advisor to the Telangana government, further showcasing his expertise and dedication in the field of public service.
Biyyala’s journey into the realm of filmmaking commenced in the mid-1990s, sparked by a fortuitous introduction by his friend and actor To Alter to acclaimed filmmaker Jahnu Barua, a recipient of the National Award. Under Barua’s guidance, Biyyala immersed himself in the art and skill of filmmaking, gaining valuable insights and knowledge. His passion for the craft led him to pursue further education, culminating in a Diploma in Film Making from the esteemed New York Film Academy in 1996. This dedicated pursuit of learning solidified Biyyala’s foundation in the world of cinema, equipping him with the necessary tools to embark on his own creative endeavors.
After having directed a documentary in the 1990s, Papa Rao Biyyala is now taking a leap into the world of feature films with “Music School.” The film, starring Shriya Saran and Sharman Joshi, was released in theaters on May 12. In an exclusive conversation with DNA, Biyyala discusses the significance of the film’s theatrical release, stating, “As a first-time filmmaker, many perceive this as a significant risk. However, life is incomplete without taking risks. I strongly believe that this film deserves to be experienced in the cinema halls.” Biyyala’s unwavering determination and conviction emphasize the importance of the theatrical experience for “Music School.”
“Music School” delves into the narrative of a music teacher who guides students through the pressures of exams while encouraging them to explore their co-curricular passions. Reflecting on the parallels between administrative work and filmmaking, Biyyala shares, “While the creative aspects of writing and directing differ greatly from the realm of governance and management, my role as a producer in this film draws upon my experiences in the civil services.” Although distinct in nature, Biyyala’s multifaceted involvement in the production process allows him to incorporate the valuable expertise gained from his previous work in civil services.
Biyyala confidently expresses that the endeavor of creating a film did not overwhelm him. He explains, “Having organized much larger events and undertakings in the past, such as coordinating Prime Minister’s visits or managing crisis responses, shooting a film didn’t pose as significant of a challenge.” With a wealth of experience in handling complex tasks, Biyyala found the process of filmmaking relatively manageable. Presently, “Music School” continues its theatrical run, captivating audiences nationwide.