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Director Guruprasad interview: On ‘Ranganayaka’ and forming a hit combination with Jaggesh

Director Guruprasad.
| Photo Credit: N Ravichandran/The Hindu

Kannada director Guruprasad turned heads with his debut Mata (2006)a sharp satire that questioned the sanctity of mutts — revered as sacred institutions across the country — and slammed the dwindling credibility of pontiffs. He then followed it up with Eddelu Manjunatha (2009)a terrific black comedy on the life of a lazy and unemployed man.

Both Mata and Eddelu Manjunatha had Jaggesh in the lead role. For his third film, Guruprasad took a break from Jaggesh and cast Rangayana Raghu as one of the protagonists in Director’s Special, a dark film on human greed. The film opened to mixed responses and denied Guruprasad a hat-trick of hits.

“I will clinch a hat-trick with Ranganayaka,” says the filmmaker on his third collaboration with Jaggesh. The film will hit the screens on March 8, clashing with Yogaraj Bhat’s Karataka Damanaka, starring Shivarajkumar and Prabhudeva.

“After my first two films, there was a lot of talk about my potential hat-trick. I could have made a run-of-the-mill commercial film and minted money. People had huge expectations from Jaggesh and I, and it would have been tough to impress them again so soon. So I made a film that made them think. That’s what Malayalam films do; they entertain yet make you think,” explains Guruprasad.

Jaggesh in ‘Ranganayaka’.

Jaggesh in ‘Ranganayaka’.
| Photo Credit:
Vikhyath Studios/YouTube

Ranganayaka is touted to be a satire on the Kannada film industry. “It is going to be a laugh riot,” says the director. “People will surely demand yet another film with Jaggesh,” he says, without forgetting to heap praise on his long-time friend and collaborator. “Jaggesh is a gifted actor. In Eddelu Manjunatha, he took three days to get into the character. After that, we finished the movie in just 17 days. The industry still hasn’t explored the range of Jaggesh; when you box him in a stereotypical comical character, it shows your limitations.”

While they keep you hooked, Guruprasad’s films suffer from abrupt endings. But the director defends his style of finishing a movie. “Even after I entertain you for two hours, if you still feel the film should have lasted longer… then the film has impressed you. My policy is that a film has to be worth your ticket price, and shouldn’t overstay its welcome. In fact, Fazil, the popular Malayalam director (Manichitrathazhu fame), writes his climax first in the script… I follow the same pattern,” he says.

ALSO READ: Directors’s Special: A dialogue with greed

Guruprasad’s excellent hold on Kannada leads to inventive world play, and his dark humour makes his movies stand out. “Language is the biggest gift we have got from this world. Humour is born through language. In my formative years, I would test my humour with my family. My parents, siblings, and relatives would always laugh at my jokes. I always felt confident that I can make people laugh,” he says.

The director often gets criticised for delaying his projects. There have been several reports of his strained relationship with his producers. “I see a producer-director relationship as a marriage. A film is their child. If they get along well, people will speak highly of their product. I have had my share of bitter experiences with producers. But today, I am in a position to fund my movies.”

What about claims that he is an egotistic creator? “Ego is often misunderstood. If I love my art form, I will ensure I strive hard to do full justice to it. For instance, during the shoot of Eddelu Manjunatha, I kept repeating a scene. Jaggesh felt I was becoming egotistic and told me he would not give me more than three takes per scene. I told him I wasn’t being unnecessarily persistent, and that I was thinking from the audience’s perspective. When I don’t laugh at a scene while shooting, people won’t laugh in the theatres, right? You can’t take the art form for granted,” he concludes.

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