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January 24, 2000


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Deviri goes past the Censor Board

Nandita Das in Deviri When a character in Kavitha Lankesh's Kannada film Deviri says 'Soolemagane' (son of a prostitute) on screen, the Censors might have winced. But they let the word pass, as they did several other choice expletives, and even cleared the film with a U certificate, much to the elation of the debutante director.

"The film has a lot of objectionable language," remarked a member reproachfully to the nervous Kavitha. But the board as a whole agreed that the profanity the film abounds in seemed appropriate to the urban slum setting in the film, and the characters, which include two pimps, a prostitute and a drunkard. The dusky, Delhi-based actress Nandita Das makes her debut on the Kannada screen in this film, which is slated for release in the first week of February.

Deviri, which is based on Kavitha's father P Lankesh's acclaimed novella, Akka (elder sister), is set almost entirely in a slum. However, when Kavitha found that shooting at length in an actual slum was too difficult, set designer Shashidhar Adapa created a segment of a slum for her at Shankar Art Gallery on Kanakapura Road. Adapa's skills have been matched by excellent cinematography by award-winning cinematographer S Ramachandra, who says that "the magic of cinema looks real only when camera work and sets complement each other. If the sets are good, but the lighting is bad, the whole scene will look very artificial."

"In a real slum, a house is just about 6 feet by 8 feet and it is impossible to shoot and light the characters in such a small space," explained Kavitha. "With a set, we could remove one or two sides of the wall whenever necessary, to facilitate manouvreability of the camera and characters. Building a realistic slum set is a much harder task than one would imagine: just think of the myriad obviously fake slums that we see in regular commercial cinema, and you will know what I mean. We are proud of the fact that a few friends who have seen my rough cuts could not distinguish between those scenes filmed on our slum sets and those shot in actual slum locations in Bangalore."

Anuradha, Hariharan sing for Kannada film

Anuradha Paudwal The list of playback singers for this film reads more like it belongs to a Hindi film than a Kannada one. A Hariharan (of Colonial Cousins fame), Anuradha Paudwal and Hemant Kumar have all sung for the Kannada mega-movie, Preethse (which means Please love me), a remake of the Hindi movie Darr. Preethse has been produced by successful producer Rockline Venkatesh, who is known to favour only remakes as he finds them good business.

Like its Hindi counterpart, Jadoo tera nazar, the title track of Preethse also promises to linger in the memories of viewers, with its plaintive but catchy tune. There is something strangely melancholic about the way in which Hemant Kumar warbles Kannu muchi preethse, mana bichi preethse (please love me blindly and with an open heart).

Hariharan appears to be the voice for popular hero Shivaraj Kumar who plays the role of the tough guy hero and sings two tracks in the album. Paudwal sings three numbers: two with Hariharan, and in a group song, Holi holi, which sounds as if it might become a hit in the roadside tea stalls. Suresh Peter uses his husky, sibilant vocals for two other songs which are obviously part of the scary music in the movie.

The music has been scored by well-known music director Hamsalekha. Interestingly, popular young playback singer Rajesh Ramanathan has sung in only one group song. The audio cassette of Preethse, manufactured and marketed by Akash Audio, the leading music label of Bangalore, is already out in the market and doing reasonably well.

Actor-director Upendra, who is undoubtedly the most rapidly rising star in the Kannada film industry now, is cast as the stalker in the movie (the role played so memorably by Shah Rukh Khan in Darr.) This will be the first time he is attempting an anti-hero role of this kind, as he has mostly starred in his own movies, all of which are wholly commercial, so far.

Setting new standards

Those members of the Kannada film industry who have sighed over Ramoji Rao's film city in Hyderabad were in for a pleasant surprise recently. They were treated to a glimpse of a perfectly designed mini-shooting sets city, erected at a cost of over Rs 50 lakhs, on the campus of the old Raja Mills in Malleswaram, an old residential locality of Bangalore. It was created in 20 days by over 100 craftsmen, working day and night, for actor-director V Ravichandran's new blockbuster O Nanna Nalle.

V Ravichandran There are well-laid tar roads, all kinds of houses ranging from posh bungalows to hutments, rows of shops selling all kinds of wares and even a college campus as well as a watch tower. The local industry was surprised that such an elaborate set had been put up purely for use in just one film.

...Nalle, scripted and directed by Ravichandran, is being produced by well-known producer R B Chowdhary and Bangalore-based distributor Kuppaswamy, under the banner of Super Good Combines.

The film is actually a remake of the Tamil superhit Thullada Manam Thullum, which was also produced by Chowdhury. It is a soft romance about Raju, a singer, and Ranganayaki, a fan, who loses her eyesight in an accident before she ever sees him. Circumstances make Raju the secret benefactor in the lives of the now-blind Ranganayaki and her grandmother thereafter, and Raju slowly falls in love with the gentle Ranganayaki.

Ravichandran himself plays the role of Raju, of course, as he invariably stars in the films he scripts and directs. This time, he goes a step further, and is also directing the music of the film, apart from writing some of the songs himself. He has cast Isha Koppikar, who is still remembered by Kannada audiences for her performance in Suryavamsha, the Kannada version of the Tamil superhit Suryavamsham, as Ranganayaki. Kishori Ballal, Mandeep Rai, Srinivasamurthy, Vijay Kashi and Mandya Ramesh make up the rest of the cast.

Shivaraj vs Shivaraj

Shivaraj Kumar Popular hero Shivaraj Kumar just might find himself in the odd situation of having three of his films competing against one another in a few days from now. Three of his just-completed films are awaiting release. Yaare Nee Abhimani (Who are you, oh secret admirer?) directed by D Rajendra Babu is ready to hit the screens while Preethse released last Friday. Indradhanush (Rainbow), the movie which Shivaraj began shooting on the same day his father started Shabdavedi, is also expected soon.

Shivaraj probably does not know whether to be glad or sad about this problem. One wonders what happened to the producers' forum set up by his mother Parvathamma, wife of the legendary Dr Rajakumar. Parvathamma had said that this guild would try to ensure that there was a gap of two or three weeks between big releases, to enable producers to make their money.

Ironically, two other Shivaraj starrers have been held up due to problems far beyond the actor's control. The posters of litterateur Baragur Ramachandrappa's much talked about movie, Hagalu Vesha (masquerade) have been up all over Bangalore for over three weeks now. But the release of the film has been held up because of some problems of the producers.

Gelaya Gelaya (friend, friend), directed by award-winning director T S Nagabharana is stuck halfway through filming because the producer is reportedly facing some financial problems. Shivaraj, who is known to be a hard-working and cooperative star, has invested quite a lot of his effort into both these, and is now waiting anxiously for the two projects to hit the roads.

--M D Riti

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