The life of a legend

Experienced filmmaker

The life of a legend

It’s seldom innovation and experiment that make someone stand apart. The true test of time is consistency. Director Shivananda Somappa’s work is enough to speak for his wisdom. With an experience spanning over two decades in the industry, his recent work, ‘Arivinamane’, sparkles of the same rigour and passion for films as he tells a story to inculcate values in society.

“‘Arivinamane’ is about Basava’s ideals and works. He was a poet, philosopher and finance minister in the 12th century. I felt that the young are moving away from age-old traditions and decided to tell his story. I found today’s generation straying away from following fundamental principles such as love and truth. Through my research, I found a lot of similarities bet­w­een him and Karl Marx as they both talked about value for labour, and Basava and Mahathma Gandhi, as they talked about truth.

He talked about the lack of distinction between the rich and poor. What he said 900 years back is still relevant today. Many do­n’t know about this inspiri­ng figure which is why I set out to make a movie on him.” Though he is an old and experienced filmmaker, he still co­mes with the curiosity of a ch­ild and mingles with young fi­lm makers, learning about aspects like the digital revolution in cinema, the workings behind a film festival and ev­e­n the mechanics of short fil­ms.

Though he is not expecting a global reach for his movie and says that it is difficult to expect an audience beyond Karnataka as translation is quite hard, Shivananda says that it was a joy to portray the life of Basava. Moved by Basavanna’s ideals, Shivananda portrayed the character as a down-to-earth, historical figure, who mingles with the common man despite coming from the royal palace of Bijapur. Though it was a challenge to make a low budget film and try to adapt a historical narrative in today’s context, Shivananda chooses not to talk about such challenges. “There was a lot of research involved as I went to his birth place and collected information to put a film together. However, I didn’t look at the movie as a burden as for me, cinema evokes a mixture of happiness and wisdom. I never thought about whether youngsters will appreciate this movie or not but I’m confident that they will see it.”

Continuing to make films in an age which is ridden with money and commercialism, he gently says that topics like love stories,  violence, teenage angst and the like don’t appeal to him.  “Sure, there is money is there. However, I want to work on a film that is about social reform and reality. Historical figures like Raja Ram Mohan Roy inspire me I and feel film is my tool to make people aware.” Next, he is working on a movie on Gautama Buddha. “The script is ready but I am a little cash strapped. I am making this movie in English so that I can screen it in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Japan — where people are inspired by Buddha.  I always want my films to be realistic.”

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