Director sees healthy change in audience taste

Director sees healthy change in audience taste

Dayal Padmanabhan’s Aa Karaala Ratri (That Dark Night) is showing in the Indian cinema section

Aa Karaala Ratri is based on a play by Mohan Habbu.

Dayal Padmanabhan followed the herd but burnt his fingers early on. Like many aspiring filmmakers trying to find their feet in the mainstream set up, Dayal churned out several commercial films with no success. The director then did something interesting.

Dayal found his calling in independent cinema. He began making ‘small’ films with a pattern that struck a chord with the masses. Dayal gave a spin to the thriller genre by nicely weaving in themes like psychology and relationships with minimal characters. Also, extra care was given for the technical department.

Haggada Kone (2014) is a bit loud and manipulative towards the end. But the film makes one think and keeps us invested throughout. With just two characters in Actor (2016), he made a big statement. This approach from Dayal was a welcome deviation.

With Aa Karaala Ratri, adapted from Mohan Habbu’s play of the same name, Dayal finally tasted box office success. The changing taste of the Kannada audience played a key role in Aa Karaala Ratri rake in profit. After impressing critics and the general audience, the film has found its way to film festivals.

While talking to Metrolife about the film, currently competing in the Indian Cinema section at the BIFFes, Dayal also speaks about the Kannada industry and more. Excerpts:       

Aa Karaala Ratri was among the 27 films that fought it out for India’s official entry to Oscars this time…

We were confident of our content in Aa Karaala Ratri so we decided to send our film when Film Federation of India (FFI) invited entries. The FFI committee felt the film was a bit loud and hence we missed out. But the panel did like the film and recommended it for a couple of film festivals which are scheduled for June and July.

In the end Village Rockstars (Assamese) was picked and I felt it was the right decision. It’s a beautiful film. But overall, I am happy the way Aa Karaala Ratri has been received at festivals. We got positive feedback at the Indian Panaroma Film Festival and we were appreciated at the BIFFes too.

Your latest film Puta 109 released with three other films. Does the Kannada industry lack proper planning in film releases?

We faced issues during the release of Puta 109. When we fixed the date we thought we will get a clear run but a couple of films joined late. We had to fight for prime time slots in multiplexes. Puta 109 was a critically acclaimed film.

Not all experimental films appeal to the masses. Perhaps, the idea of two characters locked in a room and involved in a lengthy conversation didn’t work as well as we expected. But in Sandalwood, we need better planning. For example, after I finalise a release date, many other films too fix the same date. We need better communication among filmmakers. There should be a body to monitor this aspect. In the Tamil Industry, films need clearance from the Tamil Film Producers Council (TFPC) before their release. I feel we need something like that here.

Currently, you have been tagged as a content-oriented filmmaker. Will small or independent films, based on literary works, be the way forward for you?

I feel it’s the safest platform in cinema. When it comes to time, budget and actors’ availability, I feel independent cinema is a good option. It’s all about getting the content right. And the risk involved here is very little. Apart from the logistical aspects, these films give you a great deal of satisfaction. I feel happy that I have made something meaningful. So I have decided to do more content-oriented films.

You have formed a successful team. There is actor JK (Jayaram Karthik), PKH Das (cinematographer) and Naveen Krishna (actor-writer). How did this happen?

We have struck good chemistry and we are going well as of now. There is actress Anupama Gowda too in the team.

We trust each other a lot and that is the biggest strength of the team. 

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