Tanikella Bharani is set to make ‘Bhakta Kanappa’ with actor Sunil

It is a strange combination but an interesting one. Director, actor Tanikella Bharani who won encomiums for making Mithunam is set to direct comedy hero Sunil in the title role of Bhakta Kanappa a magnum opus and a full scale entertainer. What made him zero in on Sunil? “I feel he is capable of essaying any role. When a comedian can turn hero and has the will power to work out for a six pack, he can easily fit into the director’s scheme of things. I actually went to him with a different story, he said he liked it but mentioned his desire to act in a film that will be etched in the memories of the audience for a long time, like Nagarjuna attempted in Annamayya.”

Bhakta Kanappa is a Shiva devotee and making a devotional or a period film isn’t an easy task. Producers should be convinced that there is an audience for it and also popular artistes should believe in the role and take it up. Ultimately the producer should gain financially along with getting the satisfaction of making a good film. The director adds, “I asked Sunil for a day’s time to return with the subject and when I did, the actor wasted no moment and okayed it. Things rolled swiftly. It is a period film based on a story written originally by Dhoorjati in the 15th century . The screenplay will be different from the previous two films. Rajkumar acted in Kannada and Telugu and it ran for one year. Thirty years later, Bapu made a film with Krishnam Raju. Now almost after 30 years I am making this film. It will begin in June.”

The director avers that he had done a lot of research, been through plays, stories, Puranas to see if anyone had written anything more. Then he looked for a saleable hero, though he admits the story is the real hero. “I do not know if I will do a wonderful job but people believe that I will not spoil the work. I am basically a Siva bhakta, I would rather call him my friend. I have written so many songs, many Siva Thatvalu which talks of the philosophy of Lord Siva that I wish to propagate through this film.” Bharani adds that Shiva is a God worshipped by all people. The story of Kanappa might be old but it can be retold numerous times efficiently and skilfully. It will take at least a year to complete the movie and it will be shot either in Sri Lanka, Malaysia or Kerala as the entire story is set in the forest.

One hears it begins with the unfolding of a tribal love story and moves on to the devotional part. Tanikella Bharani further describes the love of the tribal for his God. “He is a God who is easily accessible to the common man. It is about how a naïve devotee worships God; the story tells us that to worship God one need not be a knowledgeable person, or follow sacred rituals. Usually it’s God who gives boons but here it is the other way round.”

Is there anything new in the story that the audience is not aware of? “I am going to narrate a familiar story in a fresh way,” he says.