‘It's upsetting that most Kannada films are remakes’
... says director Girish Kasaravalli, whose new film got him a 12th National Award
As one of the country’s youngest filmmakers, Girish Kasaravalli won his first National award for the Best film in 1977 with his debut flick Ghatashraddha. Accolades haven’t stopped coming his way in the last 35 years, the latest being a national recognition for his movie Kurmavatara. This is
the 12th time that Girish has won a National Award, yet the filmmaker remains grounded.
Winning an award is the last thing on his mind when making a film, says Girish. Yet he hits the jackpot almost everytime. Kurmavatara was based on a novel by Veerabhadrappa, and produced by Basant Kumar Patil, who has produced Girish’s earlier films — Gulabi Talkies and Kanasemba Kudureyaneri that also won National Awards. So how does the filmmaker feel to have won the award a 12th time, and as a hat-trick this year? “It feels different and I am elated. Kurmavatara has a very contemporary feel to it. It was about the Gandhian movement and discussed issues that needed to be addressed. In the film, Vishnu takes on the avatar of a tortoise,” explains Girish.
Being a hardcore arthouse filmmaker, we wonder
what Girish thinks about Sandalwood’s commercial films. “I don’t know whether I am inside or outside the Kannada film industry. There is a vast divide between art and commercial cinema. I’m not aware of the problems that commercial cinema is facing, but I am happy about the way art cinema in Kannada is progressing,” he says. Yet one issue that he has often noted is that in an industry of abundant talent, the expression of films is not right. “Unfortunately, the kind of experimentation in Kannada films is not heading in the right direction. Filmmakers lose out on the expression, and hence, the film fails to make an impression. It’s upsetting to learn that a lot of movies produced today are remakes from other languages. We are not able to find original scripts and are satisfied with remakes. Irrespective of whether the film does well or not, at the end of the day, the Kannada sensibility is lost,” says Girish.
He also points out that filmmakers today don’t attempt to make a connect with local subjects. “Take for instance the Tamil film Aadukalam, the theme of the movie immediately connects with the audience as it is based on a local game. The Tamil film industry often brings out simple films like Angadi Theru. We should revive Kannada literature and achieve that connect with our people,” he explains.
But will audiences accept such a change? “Of course, they will. We don’t have as big a movie watching audience as compared to other states. A change is bound to happen and it should be a collaborative effort,” he signs off.