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'I don't want to make commercial films'

By Shruti Indira Lakshminarayana
January 03, 2011 17:29 IST
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It's been two years since the release of Kannada film Gulabi Talkies but the compliments have not stopped pouring in.

But not one to rest on past glories, Girish Kasarvalli came back with Kanasemba Kudureyaneri last year.

The director discusses the film that wooed film festivals and award juries alike with Shruti Indira Lakshminarayana.

Take our readers through your national award winning Kanasemba Kudureyaneri.

It is based on Amreesh Nugadoni's book Savaari. I was thrilled when I read the book. The film looks at our myth making process.

The story takes places across two days. It looks at possibilities of superstition and belief on relative terms. It also examines whether 'progress' can be achieved only after destroying one's beliefs; it shows how it is difficult to live without hope. The narrative technique used in the film makes the story multi-layered. Though the back and forth narration is used, they are not flashbacks. 

You chose a comedian, Biradar, to play the serious role of Irya, the protagonist.

The problem in this industry is that there are uni-dimensional notions when it comes to actors. Once someone is cast as a comedian, he/she is offered similar roles. But Biradar is a seasoned actor. He has received a lot of appreciation.

Characterisation is what makes the difference. It also becomes necessary to record characters properly. I guess that's what had happened with Biradar or even Bramhavar, to that matter.

Proper lensing of actors is a must. If not, one's acting won't get registered. The camera angle, lighting, design, movements, expressions... everything matters. Acting is not just about dialogues. And most importantly it is the script that matters. If the script is not strong, even an actor like Naseeruddin Shah can't salvage a film.

What other than good scripts will make Kannada commercial films more successful?

We need to look beyond formulae. For instance, when Mungaru Male became a hit, you saw many films being made on those lines. We constantly need to try to do something different. Also, we need to develop more self confidence.

I was recently at the Chennai film festival and there was a filmmaker claiming that Tamil films were among the best films made. Whether or not they are secondary, there is a need to develop that attitude. We should stop being negative about our films. We have to come out with significant popular films. We have a tendency to say that other regional language films are bringing out quality films. We make these statements based on the hits they give. What we forget is that those industries are also not flop free. It's just that we are looking at their hits.

Will we see you make commercial films?

No. I don't want to make commercial films. It's like asking, why did you become a journalist and not a doctor!

Are you then happy with the way parallel cinema is being received?

We definitely don't have to feel ashamed about the offbeat films being made in Kannada. There have been a few real good attempts in Kannada. Sheshadri's film that came out last year was good and Kanasemba was well received. In fact, even filmmakers like Adoor Goplakrishna thought it was one of the best films released last year. Indian off beat films today have a niche audience across the globe.

Coming back to Kannada, parallel cinema was at its peak in the 1970s. For instance Ghatashraddha ran for over 80 days. In the 1980s and 1990s the response was not that flattering. But now, especially after the emergence of multiplexes, things are looking up.

Are awards important to you?

Why not? Awards tell you that people who understand the medium have appreciated your work. Having said that, it is equally important for audience to like my films.

Which is your next project?

I haven't given it a thought.

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Shruti Indira Lakshminarayana in Bangalore