‘I share an emotional connect with Kannada’

Suneel Puranik says the Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy will introduce new courses in filmmaking, organise film festivals across the state

It’s less than a week since actor, director and producer Suneel Puranik took over as the chairman of the Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy. In a career spanning a little over three decades in the Kannada film industry, Suneel has held several prominent positions, including Jury of National Film Awards, 2016 and jury member in the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in 2018. 

He spent a better part of his growing years and youth in Dharwad and Hubbali and later joined the Adarsha Film Institute in 1985 and trained under stalwarts like Girish Kasaravalli, B Jayashree and Malathi.

In an interview with Metrolife, Suneel talks about the challenges involved in his new role and his vision for the Kannada film industry.  

When you were appointed there were questions raised about you primarily being a television actor. How do you react to such criticism?  

I took it in a sportive manner. The revenue and reach of television are more than films. The medium is the same. The work pattern and direction is one. Actors always go where there are opportunities. All my serials have done well. Today, if people have to go to the theatres, they must have good enough films like ‘KGF...’ and ‘Pailwaan’. 

What is your vision for the Kannada film industry?

The Academy wants to focus on work that benefits and reaches the common man. There are many senior actors and directors who have worked hard to strengthen the art, culture and ethos of Kannada language and film industry. We want to do something for some of the senior artists who need assistance. We release at least 300 to 400 films a year, so we would like to introduce an orientation course where youngsters are taught the nuances of filmmaking, the challenges involved and how to handle success. We also want to hold these workshops in the different districts such as Kalaburagi,  Vijayapura, Dharwad and Hubballi. We want to spot good talents and put them through the course so that they gain the confidence to take on bigger challenges. It is important to identify new talents because Kannada film industry is competing with at least 10 regional languages. We also intend to revive and restore the negatives of the old films and archive them. We wish to create a library or a museum of old Kannada films and preserve content related to Kannada history, art and culture. 

What is your take on the dubbing of other language films into Kannada? 

I share an emotional connect with Kannada. I will be the first to protest if any injustice is meted out to the language and its culture. The constitution and the Supreme Court have allowed dubbing. And we are bound to respect that decision. 

Could you explain the structure of the Academy?

The head of the Academy is the chairman. It has a 17 or 18-member committee with representation from the directors, producers and television associations. It also has the commissioner of the information department and the secretary. So far only the chairman has been active. There were no members. We will now constitute a committee and start functioning in a full-fledged manner.   

We have never seen the Academy go beyond organising BIFFES. Why? 

You are right. We want to develop content that will go beyond BIFFES and reach out to the common man in a big way. We want to organise film festivals in other parts of the state as well. We wish to introduce courses on filmmaking across the state. We want to highlight the importance of budgets, star cast and why it is important to reach the global market. This will attract new talent.

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