Kavitha Lankesh started her career as an ad film maker but soon switched over to feature films. Her first Kannada film, Deeveeri (based on a story written by her famous father, the late writer P Lankesh) won the Best Regional film award at the National level, besides winning the Best Film award from the Karnataka government and the Aravindan Puraskar.
She received one more National Award for Preethi Prema Pranaya which dealt with problems facing the aged. The film, which starred experienced artists like Anant Nag, Prakash Raj and Bharathi Vishnuvardhan, ran for 100 days.
In this interview, Kavitha talks about her recent film Avva, which is also based on another of her father's novel, Mussanjeya Katha Prasanga. Excerpts:
Did the failure of your last two films Thananam Thananam and Avva rattle you? While you were making Avva, you were confident that the film would be accepted. What do you think are the reasons for the failure of the film?
First and foremost, I would like to reiterate that Avva is not a failure as has been described by trade pundits.
A film is a hit if the money the producers spent is recovered and Avva has managed to do that in the first week of its release. As the budget was not as a big as a mainstream film, we have recovered the money.
Now, the film is invited for screening at many international film festivals. Hopefully next year, you will see Avva doing the festival circuit as well. I am also sure that Avva will get a lot of recognition at the national and international film circuits.
Trade pundits say collections of Avva are nowhere near Vijay's last film Chanda...
I want to reiterate again and again that Avva was not meant to please the trade pundits! The film was for those who watch and enjoy quality cinema.Yes, Avva is a lesser hit than Chanda. I agree. But then can you compare S Narayan with Lankesh?
I want an honest answer to this question. Are you happy making films like Thananam Thananam and Avva, which are not viewed by majority of the people?
I admit Thananam Thananam was not a film of my liking. I was impressed with the story and really wanted to make it a musical. But halfway through the film, I made many compromises and the film lost its direction. I am glad that even the people rejected it.
A director has to be first happy with his or her film, and hope that the audience like it too. I am very happy that I made a film like Avva which has an extraordinary story and good technical work.
But response to the film was mixed. Even the critics were not that appreciative of the narration?
As expected, response to the film has been mixed. You have to understand the difference between a film and a book.
There was lot of criticism about the kind of foul language used in the film...
I know many people say that there are many 'bad' words in the film but I don't agree. We only used a special dialect, which may sound odd or even bad to many who are used to 'sankritised' words. You should understand the characters in the film are rooted to the soil.
It has now become fashionable to use foul language only in English! But bad words are part and parcel of village life. It is natural for a single woman with a grown up daughter in a village to use such language.
You chose an action hero like Vijay to play a dummy character in the film. Do you feel that he was the perfect choice for the role?
I never said Vijay is the hero of the film. If anyone comes close to being a 'hero', it is Shruthi who played Rangawwa. The film has many characters and Vijay happens to be one such character. Only in the mainstream Indian cinema, a hero is a hero. And Avva is not that film! There were no songs or fights for the so called hero!
If a person is exposed to international cinema, he or she will understand what I say. Take the Oscar-winning film Babel. Brad Pitt is just one of the characters in the film, and not the regular hero.