'TV industry is bigger than film'
Kannada film director Prakash of Milana fame is testing the waters as a Kannada television producer with Lakumi.
He talks about this soap that comes with a social message, the growth of television industry and his wish to direct a film with Shah Rukh Khan. Excerpts:
Why did you zero in on a serial like Lakumi?
At the outset, I want to clear the misconception of a lot of people who think I am directing the soap. It is being directed by Ramesh Krishna who has done Kadana and Ardha Satya.
About why my production house Sri Jaimatha Combines chose to produce it was because of the interesting screenplay, which runs parallel in the village and the city apart from the social message that it carried.
Lakumi reflects on how girls are treated in rural areas. We have tried to dwell on this issue from a 13-year-old's point of view. Simultaneously the story tracks the life of a city bred girl Navya, thus allowing for comparisons between girls living in urban and rural areas.
Sushma, a newcomer plays Lakumi. Popular Kannada film comedian Kari Basavaiah is playing the role of a politician here. We have also introduced a lot of new faces.
How has the response been so far?
It's been three weeks since we launched the show. The TRPs show positive result. Our serial is gaining steady popularity especially in rural pockets across the state.
'Television is a 365 days kind of job'
How different is the television industry from that of the film industry?
I usually produce and direct one film in a year or a year-and a-half. It's more relaxing. But television is a 365 days kind of job. And you need to think creatively all the time. One advantage of this medium is that it enables constant customer feed. Depending on this, we can navigate our show in the necessary direction. Also, we get to know which age group is viewing it more. This helps us take into consideration their mindset while progressing with the story.
What do you think of the present television scenario?
I think it's exciting. There is a lot of competition for our industry given that people are today exposed to other language channels and shows, especially in a fragmented city like Bangalore. But constant feedback helps us update our shows. In fact a testing period of two-three weeks helps in guiding us in the proper direction. It also seems like reality shows are a fad these days. A lot of money is being pumped into these shows. I won't be wrong in saying TV industry is thus bigger than the film industry.
What is your take on tele-films?
They are a seasonal concept. We've had Kannada channels screen them before. But I think the scope to experiment is limited. Also while making a tele-film, one should cater to all age groups. When you are doing something on television, it also becomes necessary to make it family oriented.
Image: A scene from Lakumi
'TV also has time and time again provided us with new faces'
A Hindi channel is planning to make a tele version of the film Jab We Met. If you would want to make a Kannada film into a soap, which one would it be?
K Balachander had also experimented in a similar fashion. A serial took off from where his Sidhubhairavi, starring Suhasini, had ended. I, however, am yet to give a thought to such a concept. But if tele-screen writers want to adapt any of my films, they are welcome.
What will your production house have next in the offing for the TV industry?
It will definitely be fiction shows again. Very soon, we are likely to come out with a family drama. I'm open to hosting a travel show as I enjoy travelling. But I have not thought about producing it as yet. It will require a strong creative and technical team and probably when I have it in place, I will give it a second thought.
Do you think television is a good support structure for films?
It is a good medium to reach out to the audience and let them know about our films. TV also has time and time again provided us with new faces. In fact I have cast tele-artistes in my films. Television is a good talent base.
Image: A scene from Lakumi
'I became a director thanks to my mother's belief in me'
What has your biggest challenge been as a director?
Audience. I am yet to understand how they receive a film. For instance, while I knew Milana would make an impact on public, I didn't expect it to create this kind of a record. On the other hand, Gokula, my recent directorial, I thought would make waves, but it didn't generate the kind of effect that I was hoping for.
How did direction happen for you?
Given that we had a production house, I always knew that I would be associated with films. But I became a director thanks to my mother's belief in me. We were looking for a director for Kushi, for which I had written the script. When we couldn't find anyone suitable, my mother suggested that I do it myself. So here I am today with Kushi, Rishi, Milana and Gokula.
You have mostly worked with your family members in your films
If you mean Vijay Raghavendra, Puneeth and Shivanna, well that's because they suited the roles best. I have no qualms working with anyone as long as they fit the bill. Yash and Pavan for instance were also leads in Gokula along with Vijay. And I have had talks with Sudeep and Ganesh among others and when a suitable script comes up, I will definitely work with them.
Image: A scene from Milana
'Shah Rukh Khan is a good way to reach out to a cross section of audience'
Which are the films that inspired you as a director?
Bangarada Manushya and Manasasarovara. I enjoy watching Shankar, Ashutosh Goawariker and Siddalingaiah's films.
Kannada film industry is seeing a surge in remakes, your comments
When things are going well, no one has the time to notice, but when films don't run, then everyone has some wrong thing to point out! And remakes have always been there. People who want to do it, do it and those who don't want, keep away. While I'm not keen on remakes as it deprives me of the kick of wanting to do something new, I'm not against those who are for remakes either. But I did feel the urge to remake Happy Days when I saw it. That would have been one movie I would have remade if offered.
Is there a particular actor you are looking to direct?
Yes. I want to work with Shah Rukh Khan and am working on a touching story about a father-daughter relationship. While I feel that the concept is good, it also becomes necessary to present it to the audience in a proper way. Shah Rukh Khan is a good way to reach out to a cross section of audience.
Lakumi is telecast on Suvarna between Monday-Friday at 9.30 pm.
Image: A scene from Kushi