In “formula films”, the climax is the end, whereas in non-formula films, “it is the beginning of another story”, director of award-winning Kannada film Bettada Jeeva P. Sheshadri said here on Friday.
During the discussion that followed a preview of the film organised by Journalists' Study Centre, Mr. Sheshadri said this in response to a question from a student about whether his cinema was made with the intention of entertaining people. He said that cinema was “not a medium of entertainment but an art”, and unlike commercial films, which had clear-cut “stories” with a beginning and end, the climax of his film was the “beginning of another story”.
Cinema is not entertainment; rather, it is “enlightenment”. He said he did not agree with the notion that “art cinema should convey a message”. He said that he was of the opinion that “cinema was an experience”.
Members of the audience who had read K. Shivaram Karanth's novel of the same name, on which the film is based, raised questions about the discrepancies between the novel and the film.
When asked that the ending of the film broke the “pleasantness” of the story, Mr. Sheshadri replied: “That was the intention”.
Mr. Sheshadri said that it was not necessary that the director merely reproduce a novel on celluloid, and that the director was free to interpret a text in a manner that she or she wished.
Actor H.G. Dattatreya, who played Gopalayya, said that such “social comment” was important.
He had introduced the element of the freedom struggle to place the film in the 1940s. He made some characters speak and sing Tulu, the language of the region, to “localise” the film. The novel did not use Tulu, he said.
About on the process of adapting the novel to film, Mr. Sheshadri said the text of the novel was not easy to adapt to the visual medium because it had “no story”. Karanth himself had said that he had not told a story through the novel.
Mr. Dattareya said that it was not difficult to enact Gopalayya's character as the tough aspects had been dealt with in the script. It was physically challenging.
Mr. Sheshadri said that he often walked several kilometres for a single shot. Two scenes that he liked most in the film were the ones in which Gopalayya makes up with his wife Shankari for having spoken in a raised voice and one in which he and his wife express their love for each other.
Filmmaker Natesh Ullal said he appreciated the scenes between Shankari and Gopalayya and said that it was unlike the “synthetic romance” shown in commercial films.