Director Nikhil Manjoo, who shot to fame with his award-winning films ‘Hajj’ and ‘Reservation’, returns with ‘Ammana Mane’. The film with actor Raghavendra Rajkumar as the lead releases on March 8. Nikhil says that most of his films are a reflection on reality and he wants to use cinema as a medium to make a difference in people’s lives and convey a strong message.
In a conversation with Metrolife, he shares his experience working with actor Raghavendra, about the film and more.
What made you choose Raghavendra Rajkumar to play the lead?
I am surprised by how the story connected so well to the character. We have made films with relevant topics because cinema is a reflection of life. Cinema is a medium to express whatever we want. We hear stories of parents being left on the streets and at old age homes; it is sad. Keeping this as the backdrop, we started writing the story. ‘Ammana Mane’ is a small project with a big star. Raghavendra Rajkumar is a natural performer, and similar incidents have taken place in his life. We thought he would be the best person to breathe life into the role because his experiences are real and rich.
Any memorable incidents on the sets?
There is a scene in the movie where he had to ride a bike. We don’t know how he did it, given his physical condition. He rode it effortlessly and asked me if the take was alright or if we had to shoot one more time.
Tell us about the leading ladies in the film.
We can’t do anything without women; life is incomplete without them. With ‘Ammana Mane’, I have tried to project the women characters we come across every day, in a positive light.
Tell us about the reason behind the title ‘Ammana Mane’?
The title is close to my heart because nothing gives you more happiness than going to your mother’s house.
Has your approach to filmmaking changed in this film?
Yes, the movie is very different when compared to my other films. ‘Hajj’ and ‘Reservation’ had casts comprising theatre artistes, and they were screened at film festivals. So they were conditioned in a certain way. Since ‘Ammane Mane’ is a theatrical release, we had to make some minor changes in terms of the script, shooting and also marketing.
How did Raghavendra react when you offered him the role?
When we approached him with the script, he was worried whether he would be able to complete the project. He told us that he would come as a blank sheet of paper and that we could fill in what we thought was most appropriate. He also asked me what he should bring along and what he should leave behind. The latter part of the question was a perplexing one. What made our job easier is that he came with no ‘isms’. This made it easier to work with him.