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Pawan Kumar says 'move on' with Lifeu Ishtene

Last updated on: September 8, 2011 11:29 IST

Pawan Kumar says 'move on' with Lifeu Ishtene

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Shruti Indira Laskminarayana in Bangalore
Pawan Kumar's directorial debut with Kannada film Lifeu Ishtene! has created a lot of curiosity. Before this, he had assisted director Yograj Bhat by writing the story and screenplay of Pancharangi and the screenplay of Manasaare.

He has also acted in these films, as well as Inthi Ninna Preethiya, Circus and Mr Garagasa. He has a theatre background too. 

On the eve of the release of Lifeu Ishtene!, Pawan Kumar talks to Shruti Indira Laskminarayana about the film and the censor board's reaction to it.

What is Lifeu Ishtene! about?

Today's youth, especially guys, chat a lot about their relationships. People being in and out of relationships is common these days so I felt this is one concept that people will relate to.

When guys catch up, they end up discussing their crushes from school and college. These things seem funny later, more so if they have settled down. Life is about learning from such experiences, moving on and starting all over again. Thus this title was apt.

Also, since I was working seriously on this subject at a time when the song Lifeu Ishtene... from Pancharangi was becoming popular, we decided to name the film so.

Does your love life also figure in the film?

My experience is not distinct from what many others have gone through. So the film chronicles stories of many people. Take for instance the song Yarige Helona Namma Problemu. One bit speaks of how the hero had to let go of a girl because she grew taller than him. This was the true story of our music composer Mano Murthy. 

There are also episodes where the girl whom you love comes and ties a rakhi on you. This could have happened to any one of us. The song Yarig Helona summarises the character of Diganth in the film. He plays a guy who falls easily in love with every other girl he meets and the film observes the consequences.

Image: A still from Lifeu Ishtene (inset) Pawan Kumar

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'Theatre has helped me understand audience reactions'

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What is the weirdest thing that you have done when in love?

Today I am a happily married man. But I do remember walking all the way from Ashoka Hotel to J P Nagar when I was dumped by a girl. I was 19 years old then. I was doing an animation course as the time I was seeing her and to impress her, I had even made an animation film, but of course that proved useless.

But now I feel the animation course that I did and the film I made have all come in handy. I am capable of clearly explaining to the graphics guys what I want.

Did your theatre experiences also contribute?

Theatre productions teach you to work with limited budgets. It disciplines you and helps you plan things carefully and well in advance. This attitude came in handy while scheduling my shooting. The low budgets in theatre forced me to experiment with designing myself.

So I used to sit for days on end and learn Photoshop to make posters. Lighting was something I dabbled with when I was doing theatre in Mumbai and that too proved useful for me during editing. See, you have fade-ins and fade-outs in plays. And you can compare that to cutting the shots in a film. So I knew where the cuts would do good.

Most importantly, theatre has helped me understand audience reactions. I have held several repeat shows and through them realised what makes people laugh or cry. I have applied my understanding to my film and going by the feedback of people who have seen the film, I have succeeded in most places.

Image: A still from Lifeu Ishtene

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'Diganth comes without any baggage'

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How has working with Yograj helped you?

I realised direction is 30 per cent creativity and 70 per cent management and planning. And it is this management skill that I picked up from Yograj.

He is a very producer-friendly director. He wastes neither time nor money. Handling 70-80 people is no joke. Everyone is waiting for your instructions. Your word is final and wrong or right, people follow you. Our shoot went as planned and we completed filming in 44 days.

It is not often that you find people encouraging youngsters in this industry, but your mentor is an exception. Yograj, and even director Suri for that matter, have helped others. There were people who recognised their talent and gave them a push and so they are very supportive in turn.

Was your lead actor Diganth equally supportive, given that he is said to be quite unprofessional?

Since I had worked on Pancharangi and Manasaare, I knew Diganth as an actor. He is one person who comes without any baggage and someone I feel can pull off anything.

I wrote the film for him and he has been involved at every stage. He hopes to get back on track with this film. Yograj, after watching the film, said, 'What I wanted to bring out from the actor in him has come out through this film.'

Image: A still from Lifeu Ishtene

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'The tagline of the film read 'Move on sucker''

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Is it just hearsay then that he dozes off on sets for long hours putting the crew to inconvenience?

Diganth is a hassle-free guy. He has no hang-ups. He does sleep a lot. But that's a genuine problem and not a starry tantrum.

In fact, this tendency of Diganth's to sleep was central to his character in Pancharangi

The censor board upset you by asking for some cuts...

The tagline of the film read 'Move on sucker' and they took exception to the word sucker. I tried to explain that it is slang for someone who is gullible enough to fall for obvious pranks. But I was told by the officer concerned that he was not interested in the meaning but how the phrase would be perceived. It was to appear three times on screen and we had to cut it out, which cost us nearly Rs 60,000! It's easier to cut a shot than it is to meddle with the graphics. What's funny is that the same man had passed the trailers showcasing this word.

 I was also asked to delete a comic episode surrounding the use of a condom. When I argued that people need to be made aware and there are advertisements on TV relating to that, I was told that channels can be changed unlike in the case of films! I disagreed, and the scene remains but at the cost of a U/A certificate.

 Next, I was asked to delete a scene that showed a woman smoking. I was trying to show the ill-effects of smoking and not promote it. So I decided to go ahead with this scene too.

A lip lock scene in the song Mayavi... was also taken objection to. I wonder if showing romance on screen is more dangerous than depicting violence.


Image: A still from Lifeu Ishtene

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'My role in the film was redundant so it was edited'

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Tell us about the leading ladies in the film.

There is Samyukta Belawadi. She had auditioned for Pancharangi and we chose her for this film because she seemed very talkative and the character in the film was a lot like her.

I chose Sindhu Loknath for the other role as her character needed to convey a lot through silence. I had seen her do that in one of the short films that I had directed. Most importantly, I wanted Kannada speaking girls to do the parts and they fit the bill. 

You being an actor yourself, will we see you acting as well?

I had played a role but edited that scene as it seemed redundant.

Image: A still from Lifeu Ishtene

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'Acting is stress-free'

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Are you acting in any other projects?

Once you become a director, it is not often that you get offers to act. May be Yograj or Suri will consider me. Also, the role needs to appeal to me. I have moved on to writing and direction. But I maintain acting is stress free. 

Tell us about the music of your film.

This is Mano Murthy's 25th film as a music composer. The song Yarig Helona... written by Yograj is already popular. We have shot two songs in Ladakh as well. The weather there was difficult but the backdrops were beautiful. They were picture perfect.

We went to Ladakh because it was difficult to get permission to shoot in certain heritage places in and around us. Thanks to that, we have great locations in our film.

Image: A still from Lifeu Ishtene

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