Son of an auto driver and schoolteacher, Adarsh H. Eshwarappa recounts his story of how he went to film school in Los Angeles and came back to namma Bengaluru to make a Kannada cinema.
There’s something to be said about the zeal of young filmmakers these days and the things they’ll do to make their film. Take the case of Bangalore boy Adarsh H. Eshwarappa, a mechanical engineer who said no to campus placements, chose to work in a BPO with American clients so he can slug it at night shifts and live his dreams during the day.
Battling odds all along his journey, Adarsh is finally screening his Kannada film, B.E. (Mech), tomorrow in the city. The film’ trailer has raked in one lakh views on Facebook already. “I can’t release it in theatres because that will cost me more than the film’s budget,” he grins. But make no mistake, this is no tacky piece of wok put together in a hurry. “There is no force in the entire universe, which could break the relationship between a man & his dreams..!!” is the tagline of Adarsh’s film. It pretty much sums up his relentless efforts to achieve his dream.
Adarsh is a good storyteller and begins at the beginning. The son of autorickshaw driver Eshwarappa H.M. and schoolteacher Manjula H.B., he laughs as he recalls his college days at MVIT while he studied his engineering, and spent three months choreographing a dance! His dad, and both grandfathers were into theatre, so her had one foot wedged in there too. The turning point came when at one inter-college dance competition, they got disqualified and Adarsh locked himself up in his room and thought hard about his life. The result — he decided he must make films! Despite a good percentage when he finished his engineering, he refused campus interviews so that he could put in place his “BPO work plan”. While he worked at IBM, and later Dell, he started renting movies everyday and over two years saw more than 1,000 films “to learn the grammar of filmmaking”, says the 30 year old, who sees Steven Spielberg as his Dronacharya.
The New York Film Academy in Los Angeles beckoned him. “My parents and sister were very supportive of my dream,” he says. And so it was that he put together all his savings, quit his job, took his PF out, and worked towards getting into the course. The first U.S. visa interview flopped — an engineer heading for a three-month film course in the land of dreams was viewed as a potential immigrant. He came back dejected, but the next day pulled out his last salary instalment credited that morning, and re-applied. This time, with better luck. Four years after he graduated as an engineer, Adarsh found himself on a plane to America in 2010. “It was the first time I was even seeing an aeroplane from that close,” he says self deprecatingly. “It was an amazing experience learning with people from 15 different countries who all had the same passion for cinema. Once I came back, I wanted to join the film industry here as an assistant film director. But I had too many financial commitments, and a five-lakh debt to clear. So it was back to my BPO life.” He joined Unisys. He had made three short films during his course; he followed it up with another short while he worked. Called Maretenendukondeya?, he produced the film and made it with a group of 10 friends. “We screened it twice…since two of the actors were from tech companies we had a good tech audience gathering for the screening. But then the big question, ‘what next?’ kept bothering me.” He stated putting down his struggles in writing. He logged in at work at 10 p.m., logged out at 7 a.m. every day. But from 9 a.m. till about 3 p.m. he wrote vigorously.
In May 2012 he started giving it the shape of a script for B.E. (Mech). “It’s not my life story. But I definitely have drawn on some experiences, like the bother-sister relationship…my sister is super supportive. I followed the Hollywood process. I had everything typed out, and even did a complete scene-by-scene storyboard, which is never done here.” He was keen on doing the film with sync sound (recording sound live on location) and on Quickr found fellow Bangalorean Jamie DSilva who could do it. “But I still didn’t have a producer.” That problem got solved when his father’s cousin, Madesh T. Bhaskar wrote him a check, fully well knowing there would be no returns. He gathered friends, spread word and over a month put together a team of 15 that rehearsed on weekends for two months! “Such long and elaborate rehearsals are again unheard of here!” The team consisted of techies spread across four companies — Unisys, Oracle, HP, and Infosys. Then came the hunt for a cinematographer. He posted an ad on a Bangalore film school site and Karam Chawla agreed to work on the film — he had been assistant director of photography on films like Dirty Picture and Special 26, and agreed to do the film for almost nothing. Sai Kiran, a childhood friend came on board as music composer (the film has four original Kannada scores). ‘Mukta’ Nanjunda Murthy Rao, a popular TV actor and a friend of his helped source a big part of the crew and acted in the film too. “The entire film has been made unconventionally, outside the ‘system’. We shot in 30 days flat. Everybody on the team did everything; there wee no egos. My manager was encouraging too to give me that kind of leave…even the crew took time off from work,” says the 30-year-old.
With sync sound came one more challenge. They couldn’t shoot during the day because of all the traffic and other ambient sounds. And the underlying mood of the film was dark; so a large part of the film was shot at night. Bryan Garner, Adarsh’s course-mate in U.S.A. and a projectionist at IMAX sourced and sent him a tripod from America for the shoot; he also shot the climax of the film, acted in it, and sent it across. Garner also sourced Hollywood tracks to be adapted in B.E. Mech. Adarsh himself edited the film on his desktop at home.
What was the point of the film if he knew it wasn’t going to make it to the theatres? “It was about gaining confidence that I can handle a full length feature film. I needed the confidence to approach a producer next and ask him to finance my film. This film is my show reel,” says a confident Adarsh. He next wants to take his film to colleges, hoping to inspire college students who face struggles commonly — be it about their studies, impending career, or love life.
B.E.(Mech) will be screened tomorrow at K.H. Kalasoudha, Hanumanthnagar, Ramanjaneya Temple Compound, at 11 a.m. You can book your tickets on www.buzzintown.com/Bangalore (Rs. 100). Call Adarsh on 98867-02168.