Lingadevaru: National film awards are decided on merit

Lingadevaru: National film awards are decided on merit

Director and producer B S Lingadevaru

Director Byalakere Shivananjappa Lingadevaru is known for the National Award-winning films ‘Mouni’ (2003), ‘Kada Beladingalu’ (2007) and ‘Nanu Avanalla Avalu’ (2015). He has produced and directed several serials for Bengaluru Doordarshan too.

Lingadevaru hails from Byalakere in Chikkanayakanahalli taluk in Tumakuru district. “Our village is at a distance of 1.5 km from the taluk headquarters. I come from a family with an agriculture background. I started watching films when I was in high school. I still remember listening to the Shammi Kapoor’s famous song ‘Chaahe Mujhe Koi Junglee Kahe’ and ‘Namo Venkatesha’ (sung by Ghantasala) in theatres. I was a great film buff. My tryst with films started then and continued when I came to Bengaluru for high school. I was engaged in film distribution for some time. But I gave preference to education and later completed PUC, D.Pharma and joined the BSc course.”

Kannada television was becoming popular then (1989-90) and serials were being regularly made. “Some serials were shot in our college. I met very good and talented people working for TV.  I produced my first serial ‘Athmanivedane’ in 1992. I also did some film-based programmes, like Teremareya Tareyalu for Bengaluru Doordarshan. I wanted to do something different,” he says.

Lingadevaru has the credit of bringing film actors to TV serials. “In those days, film actors would not act in TV serials. Some of them considered TV serials inferior. Part of the reason was that producers would not offer them cars for pick up and drop.

I was determined to bring these actors to the small screen. I was fortunate enough. I convinced Kalyan Kumar and Lokesh. They acted in my serial ‘Swarasampada’. I acted in it myself. Later, Lokesh and senior actor Lokanath uncle appeared in my later production ‘Raitha Yodha’. Ashwath acted in ‘Bhaavi Bharatha Shilpigalu’. That serial became quite a sensation in those days,” he says.

“Later, producer Shivanandam wanted to make a film. Instead of making a commercial film, we decided to make a film based on a Kannada literary work. Also, few films were being made on the basis of novels and literary works. I came across writer U R Ananthamurthy’s comprehensive volume of stories and zeroed in on the story ‘Mouni’. I come from an agricultural family and we sell coconuts. In the story Mouni, protagonist Kuppanna Bhatta is an areca nut seller. I thought I could relate to this story. That story was written in 1966. But the problems portrayed there are relevant even today. It stands the test of time. Hence, we made that film. It was received very well and actor Dattatreya received the jury’s special mention for acting at the national level.”

At the state level, Ananthamurthy received the award for best story.

Lingadevaru later directed ‘Kada Beladingalu’ based on a story by Janaki (Jogi). It dealt with the impact of urbanisation on old people living in the villagers when their sons migrate to cities in search of jobs. It won the National Film Award for best feature film in Kannada and the State Award for best social film. “We had also touched upon on the issue of Naxalism in the film. Later, I came to know that the youth, who played the role of a Naxal in the film, was shot dead.”

‘Naanu Avanalla Avalu’, a film on the life and sufferings of the trans people, was his next film. “This was one of a few films that spoke about trans people. It was based on the biography of Living Smile Vidya. Their world is entirely different. They are looked down upon and no one goes near then,” he says.

It was premiered at the International Film Festival of India and at the National Film Awards, won two awards; best actor for Sanchari Vijay and best make-up artiste for Raju, Nagaraj.”

Lingadevaru has been a member of the National Film Awards jury thrice (2013, 2016 and 2018). “There are so many hearsays about the selection of the films for the National Awards. Nobody gets National Awards without merit. The procedure is very transparent. We see the films for three months, discuss them and then announce the awards. I have made elaborate notes of the films of the region I represent. It is sufficient for a book. The jury has members from all over India representing different regions.

In my experience, the award selection is a very transparent process. In 2018, Kannada films won awards in 11 categories for the first time (including five for ‘Nathicharami’). There is no truth in the claim that national awards are given on people’s whims and fancies.”

He says TV serials were dialogue-oriented earlier they are more visual now. “Technology used in films and serials are the same today. Kannada serials are not only about the language, it is connected to our life and culture too. The dubbed serials are not good. A day will come when original serials will replace the dubbed ones.”

Lingadevaru is now making preparations for his next film.

He has two daughters. His elder daughter is a BE graduate who is working from home and the second daughter is a first PUC student. His wife is a homemaker.