Darshan, Kannada cinema’s mass hero, is back on the screen after a gap of a year and eight months. That he was missed was evident when the first day, first show at 6 am on Friday ran to packed houses.
About 400 screens are showing the film across the state. Darshan told Metrolife the “strong story and social message” in the film inspired him take up the project.
In an interview just ahead of the release, Darshan spoke about his character, his association with director V Harikrishna, and why ‘Yajamana’ is a not-to-be-missed film.
You have been missing from the big screen for a long time. What made ‘Yajamana’ your choice?
All the characters in ‘Yajamana’ are relatable. The situations show what is happening in our society. I play a character called Krishna and he is someone who works for the larger good. He takes on a lot of responsibility and makes sure he takes his people along. The story takes an interesting turn when Krishna---’Yajamana’ or ‘master’ in his village---decides to move into the city. The contrast is interesting.
Director V Harikrishna and you have been friends for the longest time. Harikrishna is a good technician and is known as a music composer. We’ve heard his songs and loved them too. You have to watch the movie to believe what an ace director he is. He knows exactly what to do and gets what he wants from his actors.
Are you a director’s actor?
If the director asks me to laugh I will do that and if he asks me to cry the next minute, I will do that as well. I don’t question the directors because I believe they know how to translate their vision onto the big screen. I just do what I am asked to.
Did you miss being on the big screen for close to two years?
Yes, I did. But I can’t blame anybody. More than me missing it, my fans missed me…. they kept asking me when I would return. I was busy wrapping up the mega-production Kurukshetra. Work on graphics required a lot of time.
Are you choosy about your projects?
I have always worked on commercial subjects and I would like to stick to a territory I am familiar with. I enjoy working on commercial subjects with a strong message. In ‘Yajamana’, we have producer B Suresha, known for his offbeat films, and V Harikrishna, who has worked only with commercial subjects. This film has the best of both worlds.
Would you consider working in an offbeat film?
I don’t think so. I have to make a lot of sacrifices. My interest lies in commercial cinema and there are many like me, working as crew, who depend on commercial cinema for their livelihood.
You are a busy actor. Do you get time to spend with your son?
My son is nine and I haven’t been able either to spend quality time with him or take him on a vacation. I miss being a regular father but he understands my work. In fact, there are days when he manages fans who come home to see me when I am working out or am busy otherwise.
We hear you had a strong production team?
This film would not have turned out the way it has without the efforts of producers Shylaja Nag, B Suresha and director V Harikrishna. These three are the pillars of the movie. Shylaja has a sound knowledge about both the technical and production aspects of filmmaking. The confidence and determination of the producers gave us the strength to perform to our best ability.
How do you handle pressure?
If you are calm then everything falls into place.
Farmers vs corporates
Yajamana is a story about a village, led by ‘Yajamana’ Darshan, pitted against big business. With elements typical of mainstream cinema, it looks at the problems of farmers and artisans caught in the throes of aggressive corporatisation.
Reviews on social media are a mixed bag. Some see it as a commercial entertainer with all elements expected in the genres. One movie buff said it was ‘sexist and … macho.’
Yajamana is now showing in cities across India: Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, Chennai, Gurgaon, Kasaragod, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, and Noida and Thiruvananthapuram.
Cut-out for Rashmika
Fans of Rashmika Mandanna, who plays the female lead, are thrilled that cinemas are also displaying huge cut-outs featuring her, besides hero Darshan.