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"Cinema is not part of the Kannada Culture" - Exclusive Interview with Yogaraj Bhat

By: By: Sunil Noronha
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Mungaru Male has shaken Sandalwood by its roots. Its has done so well that it has spurned remakes in different languages - Hindi, Tamil&Telugu, a Lage Raho Munnabhai of sorts. The man behind it all, the director of Mungaru Male, Yogaraj Bhat visited our offices and we had small little chat with him. We asked him how life has been post Mungaru Male. Here's what he had to say...

How does the success of the film make him feel?
It makes him very happy that the film has been accepted.

What is the reason for Mungaru Male's success?
The Freshness of the film. The film is watched by the 18 - 30 age group, he says. They are the theatre going folk who have the money to buy tickets for the film.

What future he sees for Ganesh and Sanjana
Both of them have acted brilliantly in the film, he said. Ganesh, he says, has a bright future ahead of him. As a matter of fact, he has almost twenty projects waiting on him.

What's next on his filmmaking schedule?
He has had many offers from big banners like Rockline Studios, KCN Chandru Movies, Vijayshanthi Films and Sandesh Nagaraj. Also he was working on a romance story of his own. He will playing a big role in the filming of Ravichandran's mega all star film.

How do Kannada Films these days fare?
He said that the Kannada Film Industry was stuck in a stereotype and that the new generation of the Kannada audience wanted something real fresh and new. The fresh and new kind of films that are coming out these days like Mungaru Male, Duniya etc. are examples of this new and fresh style of film making. They are breaking the stereotype...

Cinema is not part of the Kannada Culture...
Kannada culture, he says, does not have cinema imbibed in it which explains why Kannadigas are generally not crazy about movies. Tamilians, Telugites and Malayalees are all passionate about movies and so these film industries are growing. If a bad Telugu film is made, the audience will watch it only once. In the case of Kannada Movies it the opposite - people say that they will see film if it is good. When they make good films, people don't make any effort to watch it. It is a mindset that is to be changed, he says.

About star value...
Trying to add star value to your film by roping in the big names and centering the story around a star can only get you an initial good run, he says. Then the filmmaker makes his money and doesn't really care about the film's performance. The star only guarantees the financial success of the film. Commenting on the recently seen trend of films with new faces, he said that it is a good thing for new faces to come in. They bring in a certain freshness to the films.
Filmmaking is a risk...

Filmmaking, he says, is a risk. You can never really tell whether or not the film will work or not. It a chance that you take and your gut feeling that you trust. He will never be able to make another Mungaru Male ever again

Mungaru Male will dog him forever...
He says that he knows for a fact that he will never be free of being known as the director of Mungaru Male. People will always compare all of his future projects to Mungaru Male. That is something that he will have to live with. He says that he can expect a maximum run of 18 months...beyond that it is out of his hands

How to handle the new money and the new talent coming into Gandhinagar?
Gandhinagar, he says, is laden with cash overflowing from all sides. There will always be enough and more to support all good filmmakers dreams. The only problem that he sees is the cultivation of new talent. Remakes, he says, are made because the probable new faces (and new ideas) of every aspect of Sandalwood are not making their mark well enough. There are not enough scriptwriters for orignal movies to be made. There aren't enough new actors to keep Sandalwood fresh.

How do you raise this? By his very USP as a filmmaker - that gut feeling of yours. Everybody's got to follow their gut feeling and push forward with their ideas. Only then can we see some originality and quality coming out of Gandhinagar.

How does he thank the fans who have made his film a success?
The three things that he would like to say to them are:
1. He respects them
2. He values their interest in the film (and in good cinema)
3. He feels that it is an honour that they are reciprocating the effort that he put into the film.

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