‘Act 1978 is against our corrupt system’

‘Act 1978 is against our corrupt system’

The first new Kannada film to release since the pandemic is a thriller that speaks out against the humiliation of citizens in government offices. An interview with Mansore

Director Manjunatha Somashekara Reddy, better known as Mansore, has taken a leap of faith by releasing 'Act 1978' in cinema halls across Karnataka.

Mansore, who worked on the script for more than a year, says that the film is based on real-life experiences. Known for his sensitive films such as ‘Harivu’ and ‘Nathicharami’, the latter film, on the sexual desires of a young widow, won several awards.

“There’s really nobody who is a stranger to bad treatment at government offices,” he told Showtime, talking about why he made ‘Act 1978’. The inputs for his script came from friends, acquaintances, police officers and government employees.

The film shows why government servants behave as though they are a law unto themselves. “Ordinary citizens feel insulted and humiliated when they are made to wait, sent from one desk to another, and forced to part with a bribe. What happens if they react?” he says.

Mansore recalls an incident in Haveri in northern Karnataka, where a man, made to run from pillar to post at a government office, caught a snake and let it loose inside the very office that had tormented him.

“Another frustrated man burnt alive a tahsildar in Hyderabad,” says Mansore, who feels such instances are the result of the extreme arrogance and indifference at government offices.

Mansore has first-hand knowledge of how government employees behave when he had to run around for his father’s pension. He was made to wait for months and the work got done only after he threatened to go to the media.

Mansore explains his poster in which a pregnant Yajna Shetty, with a bomb strapped around her waist, is looking into the distance, her eyes angry: “The baby in the womb signifies birth and the bomb symbolises death. The woman is a common citizen, caught between life and death. Her characterisation is strong, bold and powerful. What drives her to this desperate situation is the crux of the story.”

Strong, relatable content

Shruthi, the well-known actor who plays the head of the Human Rights Commission, says: “The film is technically very sound. Whether in spot recording, lighting or use of multiple cameras — it is ahead of its time. It has the potential to leave a huge impact, given what is happening all around us.”   

Yagna Shetty, who plays the heroine, says the character was strong and challenging. “A great team that has perfectly executed the director’s bold vision,” she says.

Released yesterday

'Act 1978' was released on 92 screens across Karnataka on Friday. The response has been enthusiastic, with the film reporting 60 per cent collections on the first day. Many cinema halls are reopening after a seven-month break.

What is Act 1978?

An Act to regulate the recruitment and the conditions of service of persons appointed to Civil Services of the State of Karnataka and posts in connection with the affairs of the State of Karnataka.