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'Not sure if Lucia will be considered for Oscars'

September 17, 2013 14:08 IST

'Not sure if Lucia will be considered for Oscars'

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Praveen Sundaram in Bangalore

Pawan Kumar's crowd-funded Kannada film, Lucia, may just make its way to the Oscars, thanks to the strong buzz surrounding it.

Prolific filmmakers from across the country like Anurag Kashyap, and Karthik Subburaj (of Pizza fame) have been praising Kumar for raising the bar for Kannada cinema.

Lucia is doing well with audiences too across Karnataka and even other cities in India.

Pawan Kumar talks to Praveen Sundaram about the success of Lucia, and more.

Lucia is a giant leap for Kannada cinema. You have probably broken every notion that is considered impossible in the Kannada film circuit and emerged victorious. How do you feel now?

I am very happy with the way Lucia has been received by the people. My intention was not to break any notion but make the film the way I wanted to.

I am taking every day as it comes. It has been doing well and from what I last heard, the second week collections have been better than the opening week.

The film has repeat value which works in your favour.

Yes, people have been looking forward to watching it the second time too.


Image: Pawan Kumar in Lucia


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'To be honest, I am not really looking at the Oscar nomination'

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Lucia is being considered for the Oscars. Isn’t this the first time a Kannada film has been considered for the Oscars?

Along with Lucia, another Kannada film, Sangolli Rayanna has been considered.

From what I hear, this is the first time two Kannada films have been considered for the Oscars under the foreign film category, but then I am not very sure.

In the past, a well deserving film such as Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday and films from various regional languages were not considered for the Oscars from India.

There is a jury and they vote after seeing a bunch of films that are being considered. One of them will get to represent our country under the foreign films category. We don’t know who the jury is and on what basis they decide to vote for a particular film.

To be honest, I am not really looking at the Oscar nomination. When I set out to make Lucia my intention was to take it to as large an audience as possible. I am trying to achieve that.

Of course, when you get nominated for the Oscars and represent our country that gives you a great feeling of pride. But at the end of the day every good filmmaker’s goal is to reach out to a large audience.


Image: A scene from Lucia


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'If we decide to make Lucia in Hindi, we would like to discuss the script with Anurag Kashyap'

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People from other film industries like Anurag Kashyap and Karthik Subburaj tweeted their appreciation of your work and Lucia. Not many eminent film personalities from the Kannada film industry have done so.

A few people like Rakshith did appreciate the film, and mostly the younger lot from the industry. Not many people are on the social media. They did call me and appreciate personally.

Did you get any appreciative comments from the Karnataka Film Chamber?

Not really. We haven’t received anything official from them or the distributers, only the audience.

Anurag Kashyap and you have been interacting on Twitter. Did you get to meet him, or was that just a mere Twitter interaction?

As of now we only interacted on Twitter, but my cinematographer Siddhartha Nuni and I intend to go to Mumbai some time next week and meet Anurag Kashyap personally. We would like to interact with him personally about my film.

If we decide to make Lucia in Hindi, we would like to discuss the script with him.


Image: A scene from Lucia


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'Word of mouth is helping the film a lot'

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Outside Karnataka, Lucia had houseful shows in Chennai and Pune, but played only on weekends.

Yes, and we also had a good run in Mumbai and Delhi. We have sent a mail to PVR, Chennai to increase the shows, at least one show a day. Sathyam Cinemas in Chennai is likely to release it very soon. I’ve seen that word of mouth is helping the film a lot. That may help to increase the number of shows in those cities.

Having a first week opening across the country is good, but if a film is really good, having a second or third week opening in other cities makes more sense because by then people in other states would have heard about a path-breaking regional film and they might show interest in watching it in their cities.

In my case what happened is, people outside of Karnataka got to know about Lucia much later. Word of mouth and social media takes time to go around. By then the one week run in other cities was already done. We hope to have more shows outside of Karnataka soon.


Image: A scene from Lucia


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'Screening B grade films is a better financial prospect'

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In the film there are characters like the Telugu speaking film producer, the Tamil speaking film director, and the man who tells Shankaranna to screen Tamil or Telugu films or even B grade films as that would be a better proposition financially than screening a Kannada film. And then there’s Nikki’s aversion to English. Were you trying to make a statement here?

(Laughs) Maybe, subtly. These are things I have heard and experienced myself in the past. While hunting for a location we came across this single screen theatre that was showing B grade films. We keep complaining that there are not enough theatres screening Kannada films, so I asked this guy why he won’t show Kannada films in his theatre and he told me that screening B grade films is a better financial prospect for him.

It is a sad state of affairs. I do not know who is to be blamed for this, filmmakers, theatre owners or the audience.

So, in my film I had to show what Shankaranna’s character stood for. As for the Telugu speaking film producer and the Tamil speaking film director in Lucia, I have seen that in Karnataka we depend a lot on talent from outside; we don’t hire local talent much. But we don’t let other language films be dubbed in Kannada. It is an interesting paradox.

To be honest, I was not deliberately trying to prove a point in Lucia with all this; it so happened that we had this film within a film situation and those scenes came along naturally. 


Image: A scene from Lucia


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'We don't have that many qualified film critics'

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Film critics, mostly the vernacular press, don’t seem to have understood the film. The masses, though, have loved Lucia.

This is not the first time that the audience loves a film that the critics are not happy with. We don’t have that many qualified film critics. The masses have accepted and embraced Lucia and they are enjoying it.

Some media publications have lauded the audience method of funding and have given good reviews for Lucia.

One of the festival organisers of the London Indian Film Festival, Naman Ramachandran, told me that he was very disappointed with the Indian reviews of Lucia and the way it was reviewed in UK was completely different.

In Western countries, film critiquing is something that you have studied for a few years, like you study science and then one acquires the knowledge to critique a piece of art. 


Image: A scene from Lucia


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'I used to be very offended when people compared Lucia to Inception'

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People have been calling Lucia India’s Inception. Some say it is a Christopher Nolan meets Anurag Kashyap type of film.

Initially, I used to be very offended, and then I thought I should just look at it positively.

Several movies have been made on dreams and split personality in the past. Inception has been the most popular in the last three years, and that’s why the comparison.

Having said that, I will not deny that I did learn a lot from Christopher Nolan’s movies.

What are your immediate plans now?

I am happy that the method of crowd-funding worked. Now the challenge is can Audience Films survive without me. I think if two more films are produced under Audience Films, people will trust it more as a company.

There have been tempting offers from other film industries and remake offers. We are working towards the online release. That will happen in the next ten days with a two-level security to avoid piracy.

 


Image: A scene from Lucia


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