Santhosh Ananddram: ‘Raghavendra Stores’ will advise people to be non-judgemental

Kannada director Santhosh Ananddram says his fourth venture ‘Raghavendra Stores’, starring Jaggesh and produced by Hombale Films, is a fun ride

April 23, 2023 12:02 pm | Updated 12:02 pm IST

‘Raghavendra Stores’ director Santhosh Ananddram (centre) with the film’s lead actor Jaggesh (right) and producer Vijay Kiragandur, the founder of Hombale Films

‘Raghavendra Stores’ director Santhosh Ananddram (centre) with the film’s lead actor Jaggesh (right) and producer Vijay Kiragandur, the founder of Hombale Films | Photo Credit: @SanthoshAnanddram/Facebook

Director Santhosh Ananddram’s movies (RaajakumaraYuvarathnaa) with Hombale Films came with much fanfare. Raghavendra Stores is the third project from the combination, and for a change, the film is hitting theatres with low-key promotions on April 28. Everything about the film is unlike both Santhosh and Hombale. While the former delivered a hat-trick of hits with superstars (Yash, Puneeth Rajkumar) the latter is a mighty production house known for big-ticket films (The KGF franchise, Kantara). Raghavendra Stores, with a runtime ofunder two hours, seems like a small film with a big heart.

It’s Santhosh’s maiden collaboration with Jaggesh, a yesteryear star, and the director is dealing with the comedy genre for the first time. The film is about people’s perception of late marriage and the taboo attached to it. Jaggesh plays Hayavadana, a 40-year-old cook struggling to get a bride. He goes on a bridal hunt with his father (Dattanna) only to realise that finding a partner at his age is far from easy.

The film’s success will extend Hombale’s dream run even as it perhaps could inspire Santhosh to think of more off-beat topics to work on. Ahead of the release, the director talks about teaming up with Jaggesh, exploring different layers of the plot, and his plans for launching Yuva Rajkumar, the grandson of Kannada thespian Dr Rajkumar. Excerpts:

Before this film, you had made only star vehicles. Raghavendra Stores seems like a proper genre movie with senior actors. Why did you think of experimenting?

I wanted to do an organic project, a content-driven film in which I respond to the demands of the story and not try hard to satisfy the distributors or uphold the image of an actor. Some recent popular movies and the presence of quality content on OTT platforms impacted me just like how they have changed people’s perception of good content.

Is the film’s title inspired by the famous eatery Sri Raghavendra Stores near Malleswaram in Bengaluru?

I grew up in Malleswaram, and the outlet was one of the inspirations behind the film’s title. Also, the film exudes some sort of divinity, and Jaggesh sir is a big follower of the great saint Guru Raghavendra Swamy. We talk about feeding hungry people in the film. Throughout the year, many Raghavendra Swamy mutts serve food to devotees. So, the title makes sense for many reasons.

There is a sense of familiarity attached to Jaggesh’s films. Many of his hits are adult comedies. Will this be a different Jaggesh film?

The film is about late marriages. While there is naughtiness, be it in the dialogues or scenes, people won’t complain of vulgarity while watching Raghavendra Stores. You won’t see the adult humour usually associated with Jaggesh’s films because we have dealt with a sensitive topic. The hero, Hayavadana, and the heroine, Vyjayanthi, hail from orthodox Hindu families. She is an Iyengar, and the hero is from the Brahmin community. We have tried to showcase the concept of marriage and other topics as seen by these families. There is tongue-in-cheek humour, but nothing in the film will make you uncomfortable.

Jaggesh in a still from ‘Raghavendra Stores’

Jaggesh in a still from ‘Raghavendra Stores’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

How challenging was it to write a comedy film? Many filmmakers confuse exaggeration for good humour while some don’t go beyond the tried and tested jokes...

The film is a fun ride, but I didn’t write characters or punch lines just for the sake of them. When you do that, the humour feels forced. The situations in the film will leave people in splits. That said, the final act of the film will haunt people. The core of Raghavendra Stores is emotional. People are sure to leave the cinema halls in tears as the film’s aftertaste will linger for a while.

Your films tend to talk about social issues. Raajakumara was about youngsters abandoning their parents at old age homes while corruption in the education system was the central conflict of Yuvarathnaa. Will Raghavendra Stores also have a message?

Through this film, we are telling people not to judge anybody. We are fighting our own battles, so we expect others to be empathetic to us. As for cooking, the film makes the point that preparing food isn’t a job that can be taken lightly. We have even addressed a political issue, and that will surely surprise the audience. The film also tries to convey that any form of service must be done with genuine interest and not with the only intention of gaining fame. There are social and individual issues, and we have balanced them both nicely in the film.

Jaggesh in a still from ‘Raghavendra Stores’

Jaggesh in a still from ‘Raghavendra Stores’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement.

You had announced your third film with Puneeth Rajkumar a couple of months before he passed away. What was the film about?

It was about a man who rises from the ashes. I had written Puneeth’s role as someone who makes a grand comeback after being down in the dumps. I would definitely want to revisit the script some other day and think of making it into a film.

With your next film ‘Yuva’, you are launching Yuva Rajkumar, the grandson of Dr Rajkumar. Isn’t it a huge responsibility considering how the three sons of the veteran actor — Shivarajkumar, Puneeth Rajkumar and Raghavendra Rajkumar — made grand entries into the film industry? 

It is a big responsibility, but I have decided not to focus on just that aspect. If you do that, you are putting too much pressure on yourself. I know that all debut films of actors from that family are blockbusters. I know that Yuva should create an impact and make Yuva Rajkumar a household name. I have been working on that, and the pre-production has taken eight months. As for Yuva, he has an angry young man’s charisma in front of the camera. His eyes are magical. They speak a lot. I think, every decade, you need an angry young man on the celluloid, and for now, Yuva is the one.

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