Dear Mr. Bhat,
I hope this message finds you in good health and spirits. I also hope that this message I am trying to convey, despite the openness of its nature, finds its way to your eyes in some form.
Sir, my decision to embark upon this possibly futile venture of trying to write to you was one that did not originate from me but was rather made for me. By whom, you ask me? Well, by you of course. Indeed – it was after watching your latest directorial venture “Pancharangi” last night that I found myself at this inevitable state where writing to you directly seemed the only way forward. But before I embark upon my thoughts on your movie, let me make one thing clear to you. Like most of the Kannadigas I know, I heard of you only after your hugely successful venture “Mungaru Male”. I am sure you will agree that the success that movie found was something even you possibly couldn’t have anticipated. In a time when Kannada movies had become meaningless concoctions of hackneyed scripts and a reeking haven of mediocrity, you brought to it the sound of music. You brought to it the green and blue and red that spreads majestically across her beautiful self. You brought to it, for the lack of another word, true “Kannada”ness. We all were genuinely proud, sir, that a man from our midst had the tenacity and the vision to look at the same things as we were but from a completely refreshing angle. For that, you shall always have my respect.
But post “Mungaru Male” the rains of creativity seemed to have stopped their relentless downpour in the forests of your mysterious psyche. Notwithstanding the huge expectations people had from your follow up “Gaalipata”, I must confess I felt seriously shortchanged at the way the story ended. I am not sure what world you consider yourself a citizen of, but the one I come from where real events take place, women do not change their mindsets as easily as your female protagonists do. Yes, as shocking as it may seem to you, even if it means abandoning your beloved poster boy Golden Star Ganesh for a life partner. I am sure you are no stranger to the works of Kanagal Puttanna. If ever there was a bible of a man who truly understood the complexities of a feminine mind, it was he. So to paint your stories with whimsical twists concerning the female leads (and this includes Nandini’s laughable reaction to Preetam’s deceit in “Mungaru Male”) would be the first thing I’d stop doing if I were you. You work so hard on your locations, your background score, your dialogs and even the lyrics. Then I fail to see what stops you from writing robust, realistic and reasonable female characters. I do not know if this unrealistic bent in your thought process about the feminine nature of things is a result of your personal experiences or the fact that you do not trust your audience to value women in your films. Sir, we are Kannadigas. We loved Puttanna’s movies because they highlighted the feminine component in masculine equations. So to mistrust us on that account is insulting us beyond mortal comprehension.
Now, coming to “Pancharangi”. So many questions! Firstly, what does the title of the movie have anything to do with the content of it? Speaking of which, what was the content of it? And what is so fascinating about motor mouths that you always make them talk themselves to drive us crazy! It was new in “Mungaru Male”, fine. It was tolerable in “Gaalipata” but in this one? I had to fight with myself from walking out of the cinema after the first 20 minutes! Adding an annoying “galu” next to every damn word the hero utters is neither creative nor amusing (that is if I choose to ignore the glaring loophole that he abandons his already asinine philosophy on life within minutes of stating it to the girl!). We know you are a master in the nuances of the language and have probably read more Kannada books than most of us have books. But could you please stop hammering us mere mortals with it so mercilessly? It is not that we don’t appreciate the language. Heck, isn’t that why we are even seeing your movies? Then why on God’s green earth do you push our patience by writing absolutely nonsensical, irrelevant and extremely obnoxious Kannada (even in its purest form!) to add that integral “namma naadu nudi” angle to your movies? All this is what we call in decent English, “steaming horse manure”. This is only apparent when there is absolutely no story to tell. Sir, this is the kind of stuff that first time film makers and amateurs do to fill in the blatant voids in their work. Not you, sir. Not the man who has finally embarked on the mission to showcase Karnataka in a whole new spectrum back to us wayward Kannadigas in a bid to help us find our way home.
We live in tough times, sir. We are not the once prosperous and healthy film industry we used to be. What is tragic is that instead of making cinema that people will enjoy, our producers are fighting the wrong battle. How does reducing cinemas for non Kannada movies help the Kannada film industry? Does that not mean that because of this limitation these movies will run for longer duration in those small theaters? Please excuse me as I am no expert in the field you are clearly more adept at, but this logic seriously needs reconsideration. In such dark times of peril, we look towards film makers like you, sir. You are among the few distinguished bunch that have redefined our industry in the past few years and given us some glimmer of hope that we too can call ourselves a creative house of rational intellectuals. So please do not make cinema that will blow out even that last atom of faith we have in you by churning out half baked, insipid, whimsical and absolutely meaningless cinema such as “Pancharangi”. What’s worse is the shocking misuse of genuine talents such as Anant Nag, Padmaja Rao and Sudha Belavadi. These are theater personalities who are starving for some challenges in their roles. By smearing them with gigantic clichés you are not only doing them huge disservice, but also slapping away any possible interest we, your fellow Kannadigas, might have in your genre of film making.
I realize I have rambled on much, sir. All I want as a Kannadiga who is longing to see the day our films too make consistent headlines across the nation and the world the way other language films make, is that film makers like yourself realize what a huge responsibility you have on your shoulders. This phase we are going through in our industry is quite possibly the worst one yet what with remakes galore and flops inevitable. At such a time, please do not dishearten us further by being reluctant to make some bold and path breaking cinema. Do not undermine your female protagonists by making them mouth juvenile nothings. Do not overload your films with unrealistic love stories that have been shown a million times already. Please return to Kannada literature, sir. I am convinced that if you choose something inspired from them that hits your heart, you have the faculty to execute it to become one of this century’s greatest cinematic milestones. That much, I can assure you.
On this ambitious tone, I take your leave.