Another award, another Lotus
Dweepa is another feather in
Girish Kasaravalli's cap
Imagine your homestead being cut off from
the mainland by an overflowing dam. You and the two men in your
family are alone on your own little island, battling Nature and
This is what Nagi, the heroine of Girish Kasaravalli's Kannada
film Dweepa (The Island), faces
onscreen. The film has won the Golden Lotus National Award for
Best Feature Film this year. This is Kasaravalli's fourth Swarna
Kamal and the film will screened as the opening film at the film
festival commencing in Mumbai August 4, 2002.
Popular Kannada star Soundarya plays Nagi in this unusual film,
which has a cast of just four people. She is also the producer of
this film, with two members of her family as executive producers.
Soundarya approached Kasaravalli a couple of years ago, saying she
would like to produce a Kannada film in the memory of her father,
Satyanarayana, a well-known Kannada film producer in his time.
Kasaravalli had, meanwhile, been toying with the story of Dweepa, based on a novel by Kannada
novelist D'Souza, for a while. "I had read the book and liked the
theme very much," says Kasaravalli to rediff.com, in an exclusive interview in a sound
mixing studio where he was working on his ongoing Kannada serial
based on writer S L Byrappa's novel.
"It is all about how people's lives change completely when the
land around them gets submerged. It is not just about physical
change and survival, but about changes in culture, value systems
and even basic self-confidence, caused by circumstances beyond a
Alienation of various kinds has been a favourite theme of
Kasaravalli for two decades now. In his first film Ghatashraddha, the heroine, who is a
young widow, is cast out of her family and alienated by them when
she dares to fall in love again. In Mane his last film before Dweepa, a young urban couple is alienated from each
other and from society following an incident.
Kasaravalli won his first Golden Lotus a couple of decades ago for
Ghatashraddha. Ajit won the Best
Child Artiste Award for it.
His second was for Tabarana
Kathe, starring Kamal Haasan's elder brother
Charuhasan, who also won the Best Actor Award for his performance
as the ageing pensioner Tabara Shetty.
More than a decade later, Kasaravalli won his third Lotus for
Thaayi Saheba, the period film
starring its producer, Jayamala, a yesteryear heroine.
There were, of course, other films in-between.
Perhaps it was the success of Saheba that inspired Soundarya to attempt the same
kind of thing by producing a woman-oriented film and starring in
it as well.
Soundarya loved the story when Kasaravalli narrated it to her.
They were to start shooting in August 2000, but it got delayed as
the Kannada industry ground to a standstill due to kidnapping of
Kannada superstar Dr Rajakumar.
As heavy rains is intrinsic to the plot of the film, shooting had
to be postponed to the next monsoons. The rains failed that year.
But Kasaravalli shuttled up and down to the location (the Jog dams
and the villages of Bellenne and Taleguppa near them), with his
crew, trying to get the rainy days on film. Finally, by December
that year, they had completed shooting. The film was ready for
release by December 2001.
It was screened for the first time at the film festival in Kerala
in April. Kasaravalli also showed it to the film appreciation
course students of the Film and Television Institute of India,
Pune, and got excellent responses from them.
Somewhere along the way, Kasaravalli had made many changes in
D'Souza's original story, with the author's glad consent. The
human dimension of the interaction between characters came to the
forefront of the story, with social concerns like dams displacing
people becoming secondary.
Kasaravalli's films are often spaced five years apart. "I wish I
could churn out films with greater frequency, but I am unable to
do so," he says ruefully. "It takes me time to find a subject I
like, then study the subject matter and background carefully,
write and rewrite the script."
Right now, he is busy shooting episodes for his ongoing television serial, Grihabhanga. He expects the serial will conclude by early next year,
and he will then be ready to look at another film.