Director of acclaimed Kannada films Lucia, U-Turn, Pawan Kumar turns producer for his next film
He’s a new age film director who made the world notice Kannada films. Director Pawan Kumar who made successful films like Lucia and U-Turn is now gearing up to release his first Kannada production, Ondu Motteya Kathe (A bald man’s story). The film is set to premiere at the New York Indian Film Festival on May 6 and the London Indian Film Festival in June.
In an exclusive chat with Firstpost, Pawan Kumar talks why it’ll resonate with the audience, the Rs 200 cap on movie tickets in Karnataka and more.
What made you choose Ondu Motteya Kathe as your first production?
The film came to me when the film was already made at the edit stage. I heard of the project and met the team but I didn’t start the project. The team in fact is interesting because the director Raj B Shetty is the protagonist in the film, his friend is the producer, etc. They showed me the first cut of the film and I took it forward from that point on. We gave them the complete creative cut. I associated with the project because of the simplicity and the Iranian film tone it had. It’s a very simple story. Considering that my films have always been very complex and I’ve been wanting to make simple films, this is the exact kind of film I wanted to make. This seemed to be the best project to start off with.
Debutant director Raj B Shetty is the hero, Janardhan, and the screenplay writer. What did you think of his acting?
When we saw the first cut, we didn’t realise he was the director as well. The entire team had come and we presumed they got the perfect actor for the role. After the screening, Raj told us he was the director. He’s got everyone in the film to perform realistically and most of them are first-time actors. That’s what got us excited about the film. There’s absolutely no cinematic performance – it’s so real and very world cinema-like. He has got his humour timing right and along with him the others have got an equally good timing with their performances.
Janardhan is a scrawny guy who’s obsessed with the fact that he’s bald. How much will the audience relate to him?
Everyone can relate to him. The film is about a bald guy who feels insecure but I think today everyone has insecurities of some kind. A few years ago, people didn’t have their pictures plastered around so much (FB, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc). Now that this is happening, the need to look good is so strong. The hero here is so insecure about how he looks. Though the movie doesn’t overtly speak about insecurity over looks, that’s what the theme is all about. And it’s beautifully hidden in the script.
You said it’s a simple film; so what struck you about it when you watched it?
Keeping the audience engaged using complex narratives is easy – I have found it easy. It’s a very easy tool to keep the audience on your side. When I see Iranian films, I’m kind of shocked because they give you linear narrative, there’s hardly any background score and yet their films are powerful. That’s what I felt in Ondu Motteya Kathe as well – it was very linear with no great locations though the cinematography is good as per the story. It’s the content, performances and the way the story moves forward in each sequence was so engaging that I was fascinated by it. I believe making classical films is more difficult than making new age films.
There seems to be a lot of humour in the film.
Yes, and it’s not the slapstick kind of humour. It’s basically about that the common person goes through and how he gets judged. That humour is so subtle and it makes you laugh. It’s a very Charlie Chaplin kind of film. There are also emotional sequences; after a point, you feel bad that you’re laughing at him.
Ondu Motteya Kathe is the first film you’ve not directed that’s premiering at an international film festival.
When we bought the film, there was a little concern whether we’d be able to do it. With my films, I had a sense of how it would work with the audience. With Ondu Motteya Kathe, we were banking on Raj B Shetty’s content and the first cut is his cut. We didn’t insist on any changes in the film. As a production house, we were looking at making films like this and give it a bigger release and better reach. For us too it was a good exercise. We’re not worried about how the film is, that’s half the battle won – we’re looking at whether we’re giving it a good placement in terms of release. If we’re successful with this film, then we’ll be able to do it for many others. It’ll also make it easy for these filmmakers not to learn the entire process – we learnt it a few years back and now have the expertise; so they can just keep making films. I would ideally look at my production house as being a space for releasing films and the filmmakers can just focus on making films instead of worrying about how the film travels once complete.
The Karnataka government has capped movie ticket prices at Rs 200. Is it a good move for the Kannada film industry?
Since the time of Lucia, I’ve been saying that there needs to be uniform pricing. The question is whether this is going to be uniform pricing or flexi pricing. Uniform pricing is important because irrespective of a film’s language, a multiplex would only play films that work with the audience. If a film is good and it’s in demand, then give it prime shows. Right now, because of non-uniform pricing, they’ll price Hindi films higher than Kannada and play those in the prime slot. We are losing out that way. So let’s see how this pans out.