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“I've always been crazy about films and used to direct skits right from when I was in school. I wanted to study at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) but my father and grandfather wanted me to do a ‘regular degree'. I wasn't interested in stereotyped education. So I ended up at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath. There I picked up a handycam and started doing small documentaries for college. I also got interested in photography,” says Sriganesh, without pause.
He also points out how it was all the more difficult because his cousins were either doctors, engineers or chartered accountants. Even at college, theatre was taken seriously. “We would hire directors to do our plays. We attended workshops…that's where I learnt my discipline.” He also did a short-term course in filmmaking which taught him the basics. After college, he set up his own agency and did over 150 corporate and ad films, radio jingles etc.
Many ad filmmakers have tasted success making feature length films. Does he agree? “It's a very simple formula. In an ad, we tell a story in 30 seconds, and in about six minutes in a corporate film. In feature films, we have the privilege of narrating the story in two hours. It's like…too much,” he laughs. And then argues that it's better to swim in a large pool than in a bath tub.
All along, he kept writing stories and scripts. Actors Diganth and Kiran, who star in “Kaanchaana”, were neighbours! (Wow, you think…this guy's really had it cool and easy.) So did he roam the streets of Gandhinagar, the hub of Sandalwood in Bangalore, script in hand, looking for a producer? “Actually, instead of me going to Gandhinagar, Gandhinagar came to us,” he says, adding to the shock. Sriganesh had narrated his story to Diganth and Kiran; they in turn “started talking about the story” in the circles that mattered. Of course, there was an unsuccessful experiment in between, about five years ago — he tried to make a digital film for the multiplex market, but the money dried up. That's when he got serious about finding a producer. “You either have to be an assistant for a minimum of two years to break into the industry or learn all on your own,” he surmises.
“What we've done in ‘Kaanchaana' is not a regular format of a film. But producers don't want to experiment; they trust older filmmakers and they want it to be a certain formula,” he explains the difficulties. “But right from the beginning we had on board Sundarnath Suvarna, who's our cinematographer; he initially started off the project.” Then financer Srinath Reddy hopped onto the bandwagon to produce the film.
So will his e-book have lessons on the “how to”s and “how not to”s? “It's called ‘Nanna Modalane Cinema' (My First Film). It will be in Kannada and English. I'm not saying (in this e-book) this is how you have to make a film…but it will definitely help a first-timer.” The e-book will be up on the film's website, and social networking sites too. But don't filmwallahs generally guard these “secrets” close to their heart? The young filmmaker recalls how a TV serial director was taken aback when he invited him to discuss his script. “He was also making a film, and he was surprised…but what's wrong with discussing your ideas? It will only produce better films in the industry. There's enough in the universe for everybody.”
“Kaanchaana”, written and directed by Sriganesh, starring Diganth, Kiran Srinivas and Ragini Dwivedi releases today. Yograj Bhat has written the title song; the rest have been penned by Hridaya Shiva. Rishikesh Hari has scored the music.
Actually, instead of me going to Gandhinagar, it came to me