Queen's Road: Agasi Parlour, written and directed by theatre actor-director Mahantesh Ramdurg, had its first screening for a public audience on Sunday at the Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFes).
"Earlier, we had screenings only for the team," says Mahantesh, who is planning a theatrical release early next year. He's happy that he has received positive feedback via text messages and emails. "Many people from other countries also enjoyed the film. They might want to screen it in other festivals too," he adds.
The film, with Prakash Belawadi playing Appanna, one of the lead roles, is about a village barber who loses his livelihood to a posh, more expensive salon that comes up.
Meanwhile, Appanna's modest dwelling, where he lives with his wife and daughter, is at risk of being pulled down to make way for a TV tower. Just then, there's promise of his son, whom no one could locate so far, of coming home, of clearing dues and of helping set right his sister's dysfunctional marriage.
All of the characters, who have been inspired by people Mahantesh has seen around him, speak in the Uttara Kannada tongue. Ask him if it was hard to get them to speak that way, and he answers with a negative.
"No, because they're all from a theatre background, and experienced actors."
All the characters are dear to him since he wrote them, but his favourite is 'Huccha', the mentally challenged son of a zamindar who is often the barber's source of news. "If you use him to criticise the world, people don't blame you. If you do it through Appanna or someone else, people won't accept it," he adds.
The most challenging aspect of the project, says the debut director, was managing finances.
"In theatre, a lot rides on faith and trust. For films, you have to have money. Overcoming that challenge was a big thing for us. Luckily, a producer came up," he says.
One of the plus points of the project for him was working with an experienced filmmaker actor, theatre artiste and director like Prakash Belawadi.
"The discussions we had were very interesting," he says.
How the film changes from the script to the screenplay and from the shots to the work on the editing table is another aspect of cinema that he found fascinating. "You break it and make it constantly," he says.
Mahantesh hopes that the film that was completed last December will see a theatrical release in January.
"We want to release it in a couple of multiplexes here, and in more theatres in other districts as well, especially the Uttara Kannada region," he shares.
He's acting in a friend's film and working on another script, and is on the lookout for a producer. But for now he's looking forward to today's screening of Agasi Parlour at Fun Cinemas, Screen 2, at 3.15 pm.