Retro-themed films are the latest trend in Kannada. Bell Bottom and KGF, two films now running, bank on elaborate costumes and accessories popular four to five decades ago.
Getting the retro look is not easy, though. A lot of work goes into recreating a bygone era, say directors.
Bell Bottom, released last Friday, showcases Rishab Shetty as Detective Divakar in his Trojan flared pants, and Harripriya in bright saris sporting flowers in her hair.
Jayathirtha, director of Bell Bottom, got Rishab to ride a Jawa and Harripriya to ride a Suvega.
“We rented these vehicles and two Lambretta scooters from a vintage vehicle collector in Mysuru. We also got an old Mahindra van and many cycles. We spent Rs 7 lakh to rent these. We spent Rs 10 lakh on creating period costumes, and sourced accessories from antique shops in City Market in Bengaluru and also from Mysuru,” he told Metrolife.
It was impossible to get old Nirma washing powder packets, so the covers were recreated for a scene.
“We also created some lamps and film posters. We referred to old Kannada movies like Keralida Simha, Minchina Ota and Jimmygallu and Hindi films like Sholay and Himmatwala to get the detailing right,” he says.
Jayathirtha used his tape recorder and cassette collection in some scenes to add to the look and feel.
“When such things are subtly added to a scene, they increase the credibility,” he says.
Prashanth Neel, director of KGF, referred to Amitabh Bachchan films such as Don, The Great Gambler and Sholay.
“I was deeply influenced by ‘70s films, which led me to make KGF. Designing the film was nostalgic. We didn’t want to make any mistakes so we spent eight months getting the right costumes and automobiles. We sourced Rajdoots, Lambrettas and other vehicles from Mysuru and Bengaluru; we also bought some Jeeps and Ambassadors. We spent about Rs 50 lakh on all of it,” he says.
KGF, described as a monster hit, was shot at Hotel Metropole, KRS Gardens, Lalit Mahal Palace Hotel and near the university in Mysuru. To recreate the Bengaluru of the ‘70s, Neel went to northern Karnataka towns.
“Scouting for locations took almost three-and-a-half months,” he says. He then spent eight months on getting the right colour for the film. “We coordinated with a team of colourists in Bengaluru and spent almost 1,000 hours on the work.”
The trend is catching on now, but was attempted 12 years ago by director K M Chaitanya in his film ‘Aa Dinagalu’.
The film was based on a book by Agni Shridhar, who had seen first-hand the crimes portrayed in the film.
“He wrote the screenplay and knew all details about how Kotwal Ramachandra and M P Jayaraj looked and behaved. The difficult part was to convince him it was a period film and so needed various props to depict it,” says Chaitanya.
From billboards to cars, Bengaluru had changed a lot from the ‘70s and ‘80s, he says.
The crew hired 15 Ambassador and Premier Padmini cars for use in the background, and shot at the City Armed Reserve quarters, which established the old Bangalore look.
“For the songs, I made actors Chetan and Archana reach Cubbon Park and Bible Society before 6 am. We would shoot for 20 minutes, as after 6.15 am, the roads would get busy. For almost 40 days, we did this. We used old-looking posters of Ramakrishna Hegde in the background and added coin phone booths to the scenes,” recalls Chaitanya.
Other details like Kotwal’s hairstyle had to be given a lot of attention. “It took almost 90 minutes to set,” he says.
Virat Manjunath is working on ‘Photographer Pandu’, which he started shooting last September. He is recreating old Bengaluru in Kanakapura, a town 63 km from the city.
“We spent almost 40 days to find suitable locations since the Bengaluru cityscape has dish TV equipment and advertisement boards. Eighty per cent of the film will be shot in Kanakapura and the rest in Bengaluru,” he says.
The unit would stop shooting the moment a newer motorcycle or vehicle went by.
Long-collared shirts and puffed blouses are part of the costumes.
“The most important part of the film was Pandu’s camera. We bought 20 vintage cameras from a collector in HMT Quarters in the city, and selected a 1980 Pentax camera for the lead actor. The story revolves around a phone booth, which we created with help from images on the Internet,” he explains.
Check out the bike beauties
In Bell Bottom, now showing across Karnataka, hero Rishab rides a Jawa motorbike, while heroine Hariprriya rides a Suvega moped.
Jawa, of Czechoslovakian origin, was manufactured in Mysuru, and was a rage in India between 1960 and 1973. The name was later changed to Yezdi. Production stopped in 1996.
Suvega was the Indian name given to a French moped called Motobecane. It was manufactured in India at a factory in Tirupati. The company was in business from 1962 to 1988.