Jatta by Giriraj is drawing as much attention as Lucia did. Through this well-made film he voices his concern for the underprivileged

Of late, the Kannada film industry, is forcing critics and the audience to revise their opinion. Lucia, which has won critical acclaim is now being made in other languages. Jatta by B.M. Giriraj is another such attempt in the direction. Because of the subject and its treatment, the film received appreciation from mass and class alike. Film enthusiasts from neighbouring states are flocking Sapna theatre in Majestic area to watch Jatta. While sensible film makers in Kannada film industry are appreciating the film, Sudeep made sure that he got the DVD of the film sent to Hyderabad where he is shooting. The film, through its plot, questions society, culture and tradition in a different way. It addresses the delusions, stereotypes, hypocrisies and other contradictions in culture and society. As Giriraj himself admitted, “it is confessions of his own guilt.” It is significant that Jatta won’t fall under the regular pattern of the kind of films that are being made and the language employed is also completely different (Malnad dialect).

Guided by his literary and theatre background, Giriraj has made an honest attempt to translate the ideals and philosophy he believes in, and also voices his concern for the underprivileged, especially tribal community and women on celluloid through his characters. Of course, actors and technicians ably supported the endeavour by understanding the director’s intentions.

Focussing on four pivotal characters, the director tackles “isms” such as feminism, Ambedkarism and cultural chauvinism, while touching contemporary issues such as deforestation in the name of development, moral policing, eliminating tribal culture and beliefs, marriage system, women’s empowerment and a host of other issues.

In fact, it is not a feel-good film, it disturbs the viewers. However, in his eagerness package all he wanted to say, director loses focus at certain points and turns preachy. Armed with his literary and theatre background, Giriraj has directed Naviladavaru with a meagre investment of Rs. 35,000. His film Adwaita, about child rights is yet to see light of the day.

Giriraj grew up under the influence of Yakshagana and rural theatre. He formed Bhoomi his own theatre troupe when he came to Bangalore. He did not complete his education, fearing of getting employed in a most unproductive job. Giriraj decided to work behind the screen, and only as a director. He assisted Nagabharana in Manase O Manase and Mahamaye tele-serials and worked as assistant director for Moggina Manasu and Krishnan Love Story by Shashank. He did not give up his flair for writing despite opting for the celluloid medium. Kathege Savilla, his short story bagged the Kannada Sahitya Parishat award. Yet another story Ello Hutti Ello Beladavaru, bagged a prize in a contest conducted by a leading Kannada daily. Prize money has helped him in producing Naviladavaru, which received rich accolades. So far he has written over 20 short stories and is planning to bring out a collection.

Ask him what inspired him to direct Jatta? Giriraj says, “Having witnessed the plight of people in Malnad, especially the tribal community which is a facing threat of evacuation in the name of development, onslaught of cultural and economical influences, compelled me to make a film like Jatta.”The film is about Jatta- a forest guard and his misguided outlook (later set right) of the society. The film opens with a self-styled protector of Hindu culture, igniting emotions of youth and promoting moral policing. Giriraj uses the recent attack on women at a pub and home stay in Coastal Karnataka and unveils true face of the champions of Hindu culture.

In this film, Giriraj tries to deal complex human relations through a multi-layered plot. He does not want to classify Jatta as commercial, art or bridge. “Though the film has technical qualities of an art film, its narration has qualities of a commercial cinema and will not test the patience of audience,” he asserts. “I strongly believe that narration is quintessential to a film.” Admitting that his literary sensibilities helped him look at the subject in a different perspective, Giriraj notes that the experience of reading a literary work and cinema are totally different. “Literary work gets a different dimension when it was adopted to theatre or films.”

Adwaita is all set to release in the next few weeks. Maithri with Mohan Lal and Puneeh Rajkumar will perhaps release next year. “Puneet is Puneet Rajkumar in this film. He consciously shed his star image to act in this film,” he smiles.