The life and work of actor Anant Nag has been included in the ‘Retrospective’ section of the forthcoming Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFes) to be held at various venues across the city from February 26 to March 4.
The Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy has chosen six of Anant’s best films --‘Anaahat’, ‘Swathi Thirunal’, ‘Ganeshana Madhuve’, ‘Minchina Ota’, ‘Kalyug’ and ‘Beladingala Bale’ -- to be screened during the festival.
Admired for his natural style of acting, Anant began his career in theatre and swiftly moved on to cinema. His popular projects in Kannada are ‘Chandanada Gombe’, ‘Naa Ninna Bidaalare’, ‘Benkiya Bale’, ‘Ibbani Karagitu’, ‘Makkaliralavva Mane Thumba’, and ‘Mududida Taavare Aralitu’. The many State and National awards that he has won over the last five decades has only inspired him to do more films. In a quick chat with Metrolife, Anant shares his thoughts about each of the six films selected for BIFFes this year.
‘How I was introduced to Marathi’
Anant began his career in theatre. After a rather long stint in Konkani and Kannada plays, it was Amol Palekar who introduced him to Marathi and Hindi theatre in Mumbai. “Amol had directed me in some plays in Mumbai. He said that he was a doing a film in Hampi and he wanted me to act in it. It was first meant to be a Hindi film that later changed to Marathi. Actor Sonali Bendre and I acted in it,” says Anant.
‘I had a wonderful time’
Anant grew up in Anand Ashram which is in Hosadurg near Kasargod. One of his Kannada films ‘Narada Vijaya’ was dubbed into Malayalam and it did really well in Kerala. It was during this time that director Lenin Rajendran and cinematographer Madhu Ambat approached Anant to play the role of Swathi Thirunal in the movie ‘Swathi Thirunal’ that was released in 1987. “At first, I was reluctant because I was busy here. I finally agreed to act in it and I had a wonderful time working there,” recollects Anant. He said that working on this film was particularly memorable because he remembers that he couldn’t adjust with the food there. “I had to ask my wife to come over to Trivandrum and she was then pregnant with our daughter,” he says.
Negative roles narrated in a comical way
Anant had worked on a few comedy films but ‘Ganeshana Madhuve’, directed by H S Phani Ramachandra, was his first full-length comedy film. “This film kicked started a series of comedy films. “The speciality of these films were that they were all negative roles but they all became super hits because they were narrated in a comical way,” explains Anant.
Won many noteworthy awards
Directed by his brother late Shankar Nag, ‘Minchina Ota’, that released in 1980, won many awards, recollects Anant. The film was produced by Shankar and him and they both acted in it as well. The concept of the film was given by the late Girish Karnad, adds Anant.
Film based on the Mahabharata
This was one of Shyam Benegal’s best films. It was produced by Shashi Kapoor who played Karna, Amrish Puri played Krishna, Victor Bannerjee portrayed Duryodhana, Rekha played Draupadi and Anant played Arjuna. It was a modern version of the ancient mythological story, says Anant.
‘It was a tough role’
The Telugu novel ‘Vennelalo Aadapilla’ by Yandamoori Veerendranath was translated to Kannada by Vamshi as ‘Beladingala Baale,’ which later was made into a film. Anant says that this was a much sought after film that both Phani Ramachandra and Sunil Kumar Desai wanted to direct. “Finally, Sunil got to direct it. It was a tough role and I was the only actor. There was no actress. I had to imagine everything, both the action and reaction was there for me,” he says. Anant says that for that kind of a theme, the film did well at the box office. “That showed the maturity of the Kannada audience,” he adds. Director Sunil, says Anant, is someone who depends on inspiration rather than a definitive script and looks forward to improvising all the time. “The script is just a skeleton for Sunil. He infuses it with flesh and blood. You will see flashes of directorial brilliance. It is a thoroughly enjoyable film,” says Anant.