Kannada cinema: ‘Writing is simple, yet it’s not’

Research is the backbone of any script, says screenwriter Anirudh Mahesh

Updated - May 26, 2023 10:05 am IST

Published - May 25, 2023 11:45 pm IST - Bengaluru

Actor Yash in a still from the film KGF 2.

Actor Yash in a still from the film KGF 2. | Photo Credit: special arrangement

What are the basics of storytelling? Filmmaker D. Satya Prakash (Rama Rama Re..., Ondalla Eradalla fame), who ran a script-writing class for youngsters for a couple of years, has an answer. “Evoking emotions is the main job of a writer. But most of our writing enthusiasts are engineers. They are technically sound but write emotionally weak stories. They aren’t exposed to literary classics. So, they fall short in the art of constructing stories,” he says.

Rishab Shetty and writer Anirudh Mahesh

Rishab Shetty and writer Anirudh Mahesh | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Research is the backbone of any script, says screenwriter Anirudh Mahesh. “Kantara began with one idea from Rishab sir. The film was set in a particular region. So, we explored cultural elements that could complement the story,” he says. Anirudh loves to add a humorous touch to his dialogues. “I believe that cliches, if presented from different perspectives, will still be interesting,” he says.

Also read: Where are the writers in Kannada cinema?

It’s should be like how people talk

Gundu Shetty, who works with Hemanth Rao as a co-writer, explains his process of penning dialogues. “Often, the focus isn’t on writing catchy dialogues. The idea is to write something that clearly conveys the scene’s intention. The conversations must sound like how people talk around us,” he says.

Gundu has co-written Hemanth’s upcoming Sapta Saagaradache Yello. “In romance, we believe intimacy is stronger than words. So the challenge is to infuse these thoughts in the screenplay, and portray emotions on screen in a realistic manner,” describes Gundu, who grew up loving the “meditative storytelling” of Akira Kurosawa and reading Kuvempu and Poornachandra Tejaswi. 

Stories that are different

Screenwriting is a cumbersome process, says Hemanth. “Ernest Hemingway once said, ‘There is nothing to write. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed’. Writing is simple, yet it’s not. You sit in one place for a long time and still end up feeling tired. Stories that stand out are the ones that are different. Coming up with such content can be a taxing job,” he says.

Also read: The script and track of a master storyteller

Hemanth, whose email address is accessible for writers to pitch their stories, wants filmmakers to read scripts instead of listening to narrations. “We must develop the habit of reading scripts to understand a writer’s cinematic grammar. Listening to narrations won’t help them understand the depth of the script. Also, gifted filmmakers can fumble while narrating a story. They could feel intimidated by the opposite person,” he says.  

A still from the film Richard Antony

A still from the film Richard Antony | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Rakshit, in a recent interaction with reporters, spoke of going to the US to write the script of his upcoming Richard Anthony, a prequel to his Ulidavaru Kandante. “I need complete peace while writing my scripts. I am going to the US to write as I could be interrupted by several phone calls here in India. When all of them are sleeping in India, I will be writing my script,” he says.

Real-life stories

Daredevil Musthafabased on Poornachandra Tejaswi’s short storycarries great promise. The film’s success could inspire more book-to-screen translations. Apart from adaptations, filmmakers must tell real-life stories, feels Shyam. “You can make your life’s story into a film. Sunil Kumar Desai did that with Beladingala Baale, and Suri did it with Inthi Ninna Preethiya. But you can’t keep repeating your life incidents. Then you must chase for other real-life experiences for your content.”

Vasudhendra makes an interesting observation. “We are seeing an increase in writers. However, people, especially youngsters, aren’t reading Kannada works. Private schools ignore the language while government school teachers are mostly inept,” he says. In a nutshell, this observation predicts a tricky future for writing in Kannada cinema.

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