A stellar efficiency by actor-director Rishab Shetty mixed with the technical mastery of the crew produces a surprising climax in Kantara. But, an earlier easy dialog within the much-celebrated ecological drama is as highly effective as its many visually interesting sequences.
In the movie’s final act, the protagonist Shiva, a carefree and feisty younger tribal man, enters the home of a feudal landlord (Achyuth Kumar) with confidence. You hear a piercing screech as Shiva, belonging to a ‘lower’ caste, drags a chair to take a seat throughout the eating desk from the treacherous zamindar. The landlord’s annoyance is clear when he sees Shiva serving himself meals as an equal. “You have entered our house. Then, why can’t we?” Shiva questions the owner, who’s scheming to seize the land from the natives.
This scene is a nice instance of the ‘plant and payoff’ approach in screenwriting. Anirudh Mahesh, one of many writers of Kantara, explains the concept.
“In an earlier scene, the landlord slaps a tribal trying to enter his house. Naturally, his oppressive mindset is shocked to see Shiva being on a par with him later,” he says. “If you want to stand up to someone, you need not get physical. A small gesture can convey your intention. That’s the power of writing in cinema. We can subtly convey a strong point,” he provides.
Kantara is stuffed with such intelligent writing, identical to different blockbusters of 2022 from the Kannada movie trade, similar to KGF: Chapter 2 and 777 Charlie. The trade has all the time blown cold and warm with its type. After a terrific 2022, it’s dealing with a content material disaster with just a few high quality movies to boast of in 2023 thus far.
Anchored in moments and never complete
Lack of high quality writing — even in much-hyped newest movies like Kranti and Kabzaa — is among the greatest causes behind the poor present of current mainstream Kannada movies. “I feel popular Kannada films work on moments and not as a whole,” says screenwriting instructor and creator Samvartha Sahil. “They start with one point and end with something else. There is no coherence. You feel a sense of dailiness that you can relate to in stories of Malayalam films. Kannada films lack in that aspect,” he factors out.
While educating screenwriting to college students of the Film and Television Institute of India, Samvartha follows a way. “I make the students write a reverse screenplay. I make them watch a film, and then ask them to break down each scene, from start to finish,” says the author from Manipal, who grew up admiring the movies of Shankar Nag.
Arul Mani, author, and English professor at St Joseph’s College of Arts and Science, Bengaluru, additionally talks extremely of Shankar Nag. “Two interestingly scripted Kannada films of the 1980s were Accident and Nodi Swamy Naavirodu Heege. While the former exuded an arthouse sensibility, the latter was a well-made mainstream film. Both films boasted writerly craft,” he observes.
It’s vital to notice that even the nice Shankar Nag didn’t hesitate to collaborate with writers for each Accident (written by Vasanth Mukashi) and Nodi Swamy Naavirodu Heege (written by Manohar Katadare).
Era of novel-based movies
Unlike a lot of the current Kannada filmmakers, distinguished yesteryear administrators believed in adapting standard novels. The likes of T.V. Singh Thakur (Chandavalliya Thota based mostly on Ta.Ra.Su‘s novel), Puttanna Kanagal (Belli Moda adapted from Triveni’s novel, Nagarahavu tailored from three books of T.R. Subba Rao), S. Siddalingaiah (Bhootayyana Maga Ayyu from Goruru Ramaswamy Iyengar’s quick story), and Dorai-Bhagavan (Eradu Kanasu from Vani’s novel) delivered basic book-to-screen translations.
“Apart from literary adaptations, directors banked on stories of writers from Tamil Nadu, like G. Balasubramaniam, or ripped off concepts and scenes from major Hollywood films,” informs movie historian Ok. Puttaswamy.
“Kannada didn’t have screenwriters back then except during one interesting phase. Popular lyricist Chi Udayashankar teamed up with Tamil writer Sundar to write stories. The story goes that the Shankar-Sundar duo would meet prominent filmmakers with a suitcase full of scripts to sell,” he recollects.
A slew of remakes
From shopping for tales from writers of neighbouring states, Kannada filmmakers moved on to remaking hit movies. The early 2000s witnessed a flurry of tasteless remakes in Kannada cinema. After 20 years, the trade has kind of moved past this method, however writing attention-grabbing unique movies stays a problem for administrators who hesitate to collaborate with writers.
Well-known creator Vasudhendra feels present administrators should get impressed from their well-known predecessors and search for stable literary works to put in writing their film plots.
“Take Ta.Ra.Su‘s Chadurangada Mane for instance. It’s about two kings playing chess in a huge space using women as pieces. There is much to be explored here, like how women suffer the pain of standing for long hours in the boxes or how they learn to walk, like the different chess pieces (horse, camel, queen, and king). I find the story fascinating as it gives a chance to showcase all the nine rasas, and the director has enough room to add commercial elements in the plot,” he causes.
“Another example would be one of Masti Venkatesh Iyengar’s short stories Venkatigana Hendathi. It’s about a pretty woman married to an ordinary man. One day, she is taken away from him by the village’s rich landlord. After many years, the landlord sends her back to her husband, who accepts her. It’s a fantastic story that reflects many faces of our society. It has juicy conflicts, like the woman’s plight. Malayalam cinema loves to explore such dark themes. Kannada must do it as well,” he says.
The poster boys of new-age Kannada cinema, although few, consider in scouting gifted writers. Rakshit Shetty constructed a writing group known as The Seven Odds that co-wrote the blockbuster Kirik Party. Eight years for the reason that movie, and having labored with him within the well-mounted Avane Srimannarayana, many writers from The Seven Odds have was particular person filmmakers. The thought behind forming a writing group was to make good movies, Rakshit has typically stated. He meant to show Seven Odds right into a model that individuals can belief.
Pawan Kumar (of Lucia and U-Turn fame) co-wrote Yogaraj Bhat’s Manasaare and Pancharangi earlier than turning director. In certainly one of his podcasts, he says how Bhat listened to his suggestions and made adjustments within the scripts in accordance with his recommendations. Pawan says one of the simplest ways to boost writing in cinema is by respecting writers.
Giving writers credit score they deserve
Hemanth Rao (Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu, Kavaludaari) vouches for giving writers the credit score they deserve.
“I have always advocated for good pay for screenwriters. In the Kannada industry, there is no separate fee for the story. Sadly, makers judge writers by their appearance rather than their content. It’s extremely flawed thinking. If a big hero accepts a story, you need to put a price on it,” says Hemanth, who has co-written his movies with Gundu Shetty.
“In the industry, no director is being paid for his story first. He is only paid for his ability to direct. So, writers who don’t have the technical knowledge end up becoming directors,” he says.
Hemanth has one other huge grouse. “It’s high time Karnataka had a writer’s association. We register our scripts at the Screen Writer’s Association in Mumbai. We need a similar organisation locally to safeguard our ideas,” he states.
Leaving an indelible mark
Imagination is the start of high quality writing. Upendra, Guruprasad and Yogaraj Bhat have one factor in frequent. They attempt to be unique with each try. Before the new-gen part, these administrators pulled the gang to cinema halls.
Their distinctive choices are a rage on social media. Meme creators use materials from their movies to create hilarious reels and memes for nearly all conditions. Upendra’s movies (A, Upendra) would possibly courtroom controversies if launched immediately, and there’s no denying that his content material cared much less for sensitivity. Yet, his idiosyncratic concepts had been an enormous hit with movie buffs, making him the most well-liked hero of Kannada cinema within the late 90s.
“Upendra is a contrarian. He always does films contrary to people’s expectations,” observes senior movie author S. Shyam Prasad. “To his credit, you can’t compare his stories to any other works. Perhaps, his only inspiration, though not sure, is from a character in French writer Jean-Paul Sartre’s collection of stories, The Wall. The character of an angry protagonist shooting random people on the road in the book was re-created by Upendra in A.
Guruprasad’s dialogues from Matha and Eddelu Manjuntha — both excellent dark comedies — always keep content creators on social media occupied. “Guruprasad is a poultry scientist who turned director for the love of films. He has watched thousands of films across languages,” says Shyam.
“Yet, like Upendra, Guruprasad strives to be different,” says Shyam. “As for Yogaraj Bhat, be it in his songs or dialogues, he remains updated with the latest vocabulary of college-goers. No wonder his romantic comedies are popular among youngsters,” provides Shyam.
Writing for ladies
Mainstream Kannada movies, for a very long time, haven’t written stable characters for ladies. “If stories aren’t blatantly driven by market demands, then it’s possible to see more sensible female characters in Kannada films,” opines Roopa Rao.
The filmmaker made the wonderful Gantumoote, a coming-of-age drama from a feminine perspective. Her writing prowess was evident in how nicely she balanced a related topic set in a a lot less complicated time. “Even if one isn’t interested in writing women-centric films, at least he or she should ensure a balance between the representation of the male and female characters,” she says.