In 2007, when Aa Dinagalu hit the screen, Sandalwood as well as the audience sat up to take notice of a brave experimental filmmaker. A trendsetting and risk-taking filmmaker was born. Director KM Chaitanya has lived upto his fame from then on with films like Suryakaanti, Paraari series and now Aatagara, his fourth project.
Chaitanya is a director who believes in the mantra, “if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.” And with Aatagara, he has chosen a script that calls for 10 protagonists, five supporting actors and another 10 artistes playing significant roles.
“There are not many Kannada films with multiple protagonists. Navagarha had nine antagonists but nothing was attempted yet with established actors playing the lead roles. Each actor has his own space and that is the magic woven by the script,” says Chaitanya, who adds that the experience of shooting with 10 celebrities and supporting artistes was a fantastic experience.
According to the director, it is very rare when a film gives you the creative freedom to say what you want to and still be entertaining.
“Today, the audience rejects anything which is preachy or an exaggeration. While a thriller could be the best bet, you still need to have great drama which conveys a strong message that connects with the audience. And Aatagara is that kind of a dream project for me,” he says.
His confidence comes from the fact that he has well understood the intelligence of the Kannada audience, which according to him is quite high. “Kannada audiences have always accepted a mature narration. That is why Mani Ratnam chose to do his first film here. Comparing a Kannada film to a Tamil or Telugu film is not justified because the thinking quotient here is much higher, which has been proved by films like Rangitaranga and Ulidavaru Kandante. I think it is the right time to release a film like Aatagara,” he notes.
Talking about the long list of celebrities whom he had to approached, Chaitanya says that initially he had planned to make the film with newcomers, but it was producer Yogi whose approach towards the movie made more sense to him. “Getting together with Yogi brought a different dimension to the subject. I do not always think about commercial viability, but Yogi brought in that perspective because of the strength that he saw in the script. And that is how the scale of the movie went up,” says the director and adds that Yogi’s involvement was total and uncompromisingly so. His vision only enhanced the grandeur of the film.
Chaitanya roped in actors like Chiranjeevi Sarja, Meghana Raj, Parul Yadav, Anu Prabhakar, Prakash Belawadi, Sadhu Kokila, Achyuth Kumar, Balaji Manohar and Pavana Arrohita Gowda. They were supported by Dwarakish, Anant Nag, Ravishankar among a few others and the film is shot in exotic locations. His technical team boasts of names like music director Anoop Seelin, dialogue writer Rohit Padaki, writer Kannan Parameshwaran, and cinematographer Satya Hegde. “The whole atmosphere was quite open and everybody’s creativity mingled and gave an extra touch of inventiveness to the film,” he says.
Aatagara will be the 49th film from Dwarakish Productions and according to the director, it will be completely different from any film that has come out from their banner. “The film is a signal that Dwarakish Chitra is coming out of its mould and catering to a new generation of audience. They are reinventing their own brand,” he says.
The film has been shot in locations never seen before in Kannada cinema. “This is the first time a film has been shot at Tilmati beach in Karwar. Usually beaches have brown sand or white sand, but Tilmati beach has black sand, which is very rare. We also shot in a Portuguese house in Goa, which is 250 years old,” Chaitanya says.