December 2018 changed the course of Kannada cinema. The release of Prashanth Neel’s K.G.F: Chapter 1 broke cultural barriers, making it a global film. Its buzz prompted even social media influencers from Australia and Pakistan to post reviews of the film.
Cut to 2022 and the K.G.F mania seems to have hit once again. Pre bookings for the second installment have sold out across the world just hours after its commencement.
The brain behind the much-anticipated K.G.F: Chapter 2 is the soft-spoken, media-shy Prashanth Neel. Starting off his career with an action film, Uggram, starring Sri Muruli, Prashanth went on to direct K.G.F films, which he calls as a “simple Kannada film that became a pan-Indian project”.
How did that happen? Says Prashanth, “When we started shooting K.G.F: Chapter 1, we never thought it would get this big. All we wanted to do was make a huge Kannada film. During that time, Baahubali released and we noticed that people beyond Andhra watched it when it was dubbed into other languages. That got us wondering about how people watch films in other languages too. For K.G.F, it was never about the scale but content. It was only after Yash and I watched the film before its release that we decided that it had the potential to cut across boundaries,” says the director, adding, “It was only when the film released did it hit us that people connected with the story, emotions and its belief system”.
The film leans heavily towards action as well as many slow-motions stunts. Prashanth is often asked in a lighter vein if K.G.F is an anti-gravity film, to which he responds: “The ‘anti-gravity’ is just one aspect of the film, which brings heroism on the large screen. We have used a larger-than-life approach to make characters come alive. All these aspects will not work if you do not have strong emotional content driving the storyline. Rocky Bhai, Yash’s character in the film, was created with a certain amount of emotional madness that justifies the fact that he is able to hit 100 people.”
Given the expectations for the sequel, does he feel the pressure? “K.G.F: Chapter 1 had both story and emotion. I will ensure that all my projects will have both these elements in good measure. My USP is presenting the hero in the best way possible, keeping in mind his fan base too.”
How did Raveena Tandon and Sanjay Dutt happen to become part of K.G.F: Chapter 2? “Sanjay Dutt was in my mind ever since KGF: Chapter 1 was created. We did not approach him earlier as he was not needed in Chapter 1, but in Chapter 2, he plays a major part. Raveena was chosen as we wanted a Hindi-speaking actor with a strong presence and she fit the bill.”