Always Championing the Underdog

Love for Kannada draws NRI director Priyabharati Joshi back to roots to make E-Preeti.

Published: 15th November 2014 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th November 2014 02:55 PM   |  A+A-


She has studied medicine and computer science, has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is also a trained Bharatnatyam dancer, has played the lead role in the crowd-funded comedy-drama Arranged to Settle, and has directed three Kannada films. Meet Priyabharati Joshi or Priya Jagadeesh (her screen name).

An NRI who came to India with the intention of entering the film industry, she was India’s youngest female director when she directed Guttu, a tele-film in Kannada. In her new venture, she is all set with E-Preeti, another Kannada flick, which was to be India’s first digital film but now delayed by five years.

“I was originally doing English and Hindi projects in the US and didn’t know Kannada very well. I used to watch classic Kannada films and memorise all the dialogues without understanding much of what I was saying. I visited India while on a college holiday and noticed that there seemed to be an emerging atmosphere among some circles that Kannada films were not as ‘cool’ as Hindi films, and I wanted to defy that stereotype. I have always been someone who feels compelled to champion the underdog. So I decided to change tracks and learn some serious Kannada,” says Joshi, who was raised in the US and Canada.

Busy promoting her film in the corporate circles as well as family audience due to its ‘universal appeal’, Joshi is hoping for a simultaneous release in the US and India. “The US government may have some minor issues about the fact that our plot was inspired by a recent government contracting scandal. But I am returning to Washington for a week or so to clarify things with them, and then hopefully they will approve for a simultaneous release,” she says.

Talking about the delay in the release of the film, Joshi says it was indeed a blessing because the film’s use of technology, smart phones, etc. is more apt today than it was back then. “How many people had Skype-enabled smartphones back in 2009? I feel that length of production time is irrelevant to the fate of a film. Also, when we started shooting, digital camera technology had not yet reached India. When I told people in this industry that I planned to shoot with Red’s 4K digital cinema cameras, everyone thought I was crazy. We had trouble even finding such a camera to rent for the India portions of the shoot,” says the self-proclaimed geeky feminist teetotaler who wears Hinduism on her sleeve.

Another challenge that she faced was finding established dialogue writers for E-Preeti. “They felt they couldn’t relate to many of the tech-oriented scenes, and thus couldn’t make the audience relate,” she says.

For her next, Joshi is considering the true story of Mylar Mahadev, a freedom fighter who marched alongside Gandhi. She is also looking at a romantic comedy of errors about superstitions and blind beliefs and another about a World War II survivor who takes extreme measures to ensure that such horrors never happen again. “I will take a final decision by the end of this year,” she adds.

As for acting, Joshi says she loves to make people laugh but explains that Indian films don’t have many comedic opportunities for women. “I would love to be in a dance movie, no matter the size of the role,” she signs off.

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