The 2013 hit Lucia was the first Kannada film to be entirely crowdfundeded. Apart from earning critical and commercial success, the film also won the Audience Choice Award at the London Indian Film Festival.
At the helm of affairs was director-writer-producer, Pawan Kumar, whose recent thriller, U-Turn, revolving around a young journalist who finds herself entangled in a murder case while working on a story on traffic rule breakers, has got very good reviews. Here are the excerpts from an interview:
How do you look back at your journey to date?
I have been lucky. I have learnt a lot and I am quite satisfied. At every difficult point of my career, I wished for something better. But when I look back at things now, I am glad that I had to face all those problems. Those failures have brought me to this stage.
What was the transition like from being a scriptwriter to a director?
It was not really a switch, as I have stepped into both roles all the time. I still write my own scripts and direct them. In fact, this has been the case since 2002 when I started doing theatre. I think I am a writer first, and then a director who is trying to use the medium of theatre or film to convey what I have written.
Tell us about U-Turn. How was it working with newcomers?
After Lucia, I wanted to do a film called C10 H14 N2, which was about the tobacco industry. However, because of the lack of funding, I could not continue with the project. And after a year of doing nothing, I decided to work on something else. I ended up writing the first draft of U-Turn in a span of two days. I had my friends and family read the story and with their encouragement, I started working on the film. Coming to the casting, I have always worked with new actors. I like the freshness and the uncertainty they bring to the story. When we make a film together, it is like a journey for both the actors and me. This makes the process of filming all the more enjoyable.
Where did you draw inspiration for U-Turn?
The second flyover that was built in Bengaluru in 2000 had a flawed design. It was also the first flyover in the world to have a traffic signal on the top. I have used the flyover often and faced difficulties. When I was trying to write a mystery thriller, the flyover became a part of the story. I shared the intriguing storyline with my wife, and she pushed me out of the house to my office and said I must start writing it immediately.
What challenges did you face during the making of the film?
I think I have come to a point where I accept challenges as a blessing. Every challenge makes the film unique and special. It was the same with Lucia, we had lots of difficulties finding the right locations, right actors and right lighting conditions. But these don’t bog me down. Challenges give me an opportunity to make creative changes.
After the success of Lucia, did you feel any pressure while making U-Turn?
Not one bit. I don’t make films to please my patrons. I make them to please myself first. I can still see the flaws in Lucia, so its success never got to my head. I still see those minute details, which I could have improved upon. So U-Turn was more about fixing the shortcomings I had as a filmmaker.
What kind of work will your newly-launched banner PK Studios produce?
It is a private limited studio, and my idea is to make it easier for directors to make their films without the pressure of how it can be sold later. I would like to make my films first the way I want to, and then try to find innovative ways to sell it to the audience. We want to promote Kannada cinema primarily, and improve the quality of scripts, and the way productions are handled. All in all, at PKS, I would like to bring in a structure to filmmaking.
Is the Kannada industry more receptive to new concepts today?
I don’t know about the industry, but the people definitely are. In the last four years, there have been quite a few wonderful films and the audience have given them their due. So I guess we are in the transition period right now. And in a couple of years, we will have good concept-based films coming out in Kannada.
Tell us something about your upcoming work?
I haven’t really thought of anything yet. I may get back to working on C10 H14 N2. There are also a few more scripts that I am looking at. I want to do some short content that can be made and delivered on the internet. Hope it all works out well.