‘Sandalwood doesn’t see many sports movies’

Director Yogaraj, known for romance and comedy movies, is exploring the new genre of sports with 'Panchatantra'.

Screenwriter Maasthi (left) and actor Vihan Gowda at the DH office.

Director Yogaraj Bhat has cast fresh faces Vihan Gowda and Sonal Monteiro in ‘Panchatantra’, a directorial based on sports. When the team of the movie visited the DH office on Thursday in the course of their promotions, Vihan and screenwriter Maasthi engaged in a candid chat with Metrolife.

Saying that he doesn’t have much acting experience, as he has acted only in a few movies, Vihan shares that his interest in the field spiked when he accompanied his friends in the UK to watch plays.

He was introduced to Yogaraj by a friend, and the director admired his confidence.

Says Vihan, “I was signed up for a small role in his movie and was later given the lead role in ‘Kal Kg Preethi’. He was impressed with my performance and decided to cast me in a special project. That is how Panchtantra happened.”

Maasthi, who is collaborating with Yogaraj for the first time, says that he is thrilled to have worked with the ace director.

The storyline of ‘Panchatantra’, he says, is based on the rabbit and tortoise story. “It shows the sport of racing, along with action, love and emotions; we figured it is a first-of-its-kind in the Kannada movie industry.”

Saying that the race is shown only in the last 20 minutes of the film, he adds, “It was a challenge for us to keep the first half engaging, leading to the race.”

Sports movies not favs in Sandalwood

Maasthi believes this is because there is a safety zone which the distributors do not want to cross; they want movies that sell.

Vihan thinks only established directors like Yogaraj can make a sports film because newcomers cannot afford the higher expenses involved in such projects. “Sport is a risky genre. The racing scene in this film alone was like shooting an entire film; we had seven or eight cameras placed all around.”

Vihan, who is already familiar with the sport, further adds that he had to practise racing for about 25 days as the director didn’t want to use graphics.

The duo agrees that the Kannada film industry is embracing newcomers and fresh concepts and cited the works of directors Pawan Kumar, Suri, Rishab Shetty and Prashanth Neel while talking about films that have had a nationwide reach.

Maasthi also added that the audience played an important role in the success of cinema. “The audience should understand cinema better, they shouldn’t see it only as entertainment.”

A director with an eye for talent

Director Yogaraj is known to introduce fresh faces in his movies — like actor Ganesh with Mundgaru Male, Diganth and Aindrita with Manasare — who go on to become quite popular later on. When asked if he will be joining the list, Vihan says, “That’s what the whole team believes. I don’t really see my potential, but the team does.” He reveals that the director found his body language and voice unique.

Talking about the industry as a whole, he adds, “Everyone in the industry is supportive, which is quite surprising considering the things we hear outside. If we need any help or publicity, they do it.”

Fun moments on sets

Vihan and Maasthi say that the atmosphere was a lot of fun both on and off camera.

The actor revealed that apart from driving cars, he used to take the autos and caravan on the sets for a spin. He also worked as an assistant director for a day, which he says was “difficult and drained him out in half a day.”

Future projects

Talking about future projects, Maasthi says he is writing dialogues for a few movies.

Vihan says that he is in no hurry to sign more movies as he wants to see how this movie is received.

Panchatantra was released on March 29 and has garnered positive reviews. 

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