Joining the list of engineer turned directors is Akash Srivatsa. The youngster is making waves in Sandalwood with his debut directorial venture 'Badmaash'. In conversation with NewsKarnataka.com, Akash speaks about his film:
Tell us about yourself?
I completed my engineering in 2005. I decided to work in films after that. I started to do short movies with handicam. However, social media was not so powerful those days as it is today. I met popular actor Ramesh Arvind during an event and showed him some of my short films. As soon as he saw the film, he said that I will become a director one day. I was very surprised to hear that from him. He asked me to work as his assistant. I worked as assistant director in his directorial venture 'Accident'. After working in 'Accident', I started to direct corporate ads for popular brands. All these experiences helped me to gain experience in direction department.
Tell us about your popular short film “Sulle Sathya”?
I met Ravi Kashyap and we both were trying to collaborate and do something from seven years. I got the idea about “Sulle Sathya” from my friend. I discussed the idea with Ravi. He liked the idea and decided to produce the short film. “Sulle Sathya” was well received. In Cannes Film Festival, ours was the first ever Kannada short film to be premiered. We decided to make this short film reach maximum people as possible. With the help of Touring Talkies, we reached many people statewide.
How did the idea of 'Badmaash' come about?
I had written many scripts during the time I was doing short films. After 'Sulle Satya', I decided its right time to enter Sandalwood. I decided to make my debut with 'Badmaash', which is a political thriller. Ravi Kashyap was very happy with our association in 'Sulle Satya' and agreed to come on board as producer for 'Badmaash'.
Is 'Badmaash' a mass or class film?
I see many discussion regarding mass and class films in social media. Some people bash mass films and some people bash class films. I believe there is space for both in our film industry. I would like to classify my film as mixture of class and mass. For mass audience, we have an introduction song, fight scenes and songs. Same way for class audience, we have a great layered story. The film is inspired by Ramayana. As we know Ramayana is not only about Rama, it has many sub plots like of Sugreeva. Same way we have many sub plots which will connect to the main plot of the film.
How was the response to the teaser?
The response to the teaser was good. People have loved the teaser especially the 'Rama Rama' song which was played. We released the teaser almost a year back. People were curious with various characters which were played by Dhananjaya. Bollywood superstar Salman Khan was also impressed with the teaser and got in touch with our producer. He told that the film has the potential to be made in Bollywood. We will be arranging special screening for him by this month end.
Even thought the teaser of the film was released a year back, the film has not been released. What is the reason for delay?
The film was completed last year. However, our producer has different plans. We wanted to promote the film in the best way. Ravi was also busy with 'U Turn', for which he was the co-producer. He did not want his films to clash. Same way our lead actor Dhananjaya had many films for release. We did not want films to clash.
Don’t you think the delay will affect the film’s prospects at box office?
I do not think so. Other than the teaser and a video song, we have not released anything. If we had released the trailer a year back, it would have affected. We have still not released the trailer. We will release the trailer soon.
When are you planning to release the film?
We are aiming to release the film by August end or in September. We do not want to clash with big films. We will announce the release date soon. We will be getting the film censored in a few days.
Why did you cast Dhananjaya in the lead role?
I signed Dhananjaya when he had just signed 'Raate'. So I did not know that he will be acting in so many films before the release of ‘Badmaash’. And I wanted relatively a new face for my debut film. I did not want a popular actor. I wanted an actor who is known to audience. Dhananjaya fitted the bill perfectly. I first met him during the screening of 'Sulle Satya'. We have become close friends now. He is the best actor to work with. He is very interested in films. He asks questions and gives suggestions, but will never force his opinion. I think more than actor, he is like the best associate director on the sets. He loves Kannada language so much. He also helped me in dialogues for the films. After completing the shooting for the film, I feel no one could have done the role better than him.
How did you approach Sanchitha Shetty?
In our film, we had a great character for heroine. The heroine's character is a RJ and her passion is to teach Kannada to outsiders who do not know Kannada. The character was inspired by my radio show, 'Why Like This Kantha', wherein I used to sarcastically make comments on people not talking in Kannada. I used to speak in Upendra's voice of ‘Raktha Kanneeru’. Sanchitha is from Karnataka. However, she was based in Chennai. In an interview, I saw her giving statement that she is not getting good roles in Kannada film industry. I approached her for this role. I was impressed with the way she spoke Kannada and signed her for the film.
In today's age marketing a film is as important as making a film. How do you plan to promote your film?
We have certain ideas to promote our film. Along with regular promotion, we are planning for different types of promotion. We are just waiting for the release date to be announced, so that we can start executing it. We have already promoted the film in different colleges, where we have received very good response.
What do you have to say regarding your technical team?
'Badmaash' is a complete team work. We have worked like a cricket team. I have been helped by each and everyone, whether it is our cinematographer Shreesha or editor Srikanth. My associate directors have been of great help. Screenplay writers Prashanth and Santosh helped us lot. They were present on the sets and improvised the scene on the sets.
Tell us about your film's music?
Judah worked in "Sulle Satya" for two songs. He is very good and very spontaneous. He helped me a lot. The songs of 'Badmaash' have been appreciated well. Judah was very relaxed and was able to get the work done brilliantly. Jaynath Kaykini and Yograj Bhat and I have written the lyrics for the songs.
What do you have to say regarding the current trend in Sandalwood?
I think we are in the best phase. Realistic films as well as commercial films are doing well. As I said, we have space for both class and mass films. I loved recent films like 'U Turn' and Godhi Banna Sadharna Mykattu'. We should support good content films and within four years, our industry will be in better phase. I hope that script becomes the hero in future.
What are you planning to do in future?
I do not have the habit of planning anything. I never planned that I would be directing a political thriller like 'Badmaash' as my debut. However, I would clarify that I would like to work on different genres. It may be a horror or a comedy genre. I am not sure about it. I have written many scripts and will start working on them after 'Badmaash' releases.
Akash looks like having all qualities of making it big in Sandalwood. We hope his debut film does wonders at box office and Sandalwood gets another talented director.
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