Happy New Year will be the first Kannada film to face the Rs 200 cap on ticket prices and the debutant director has a unique way of looking at it. “Whenever there is something new in someone’s life, it marks a new year for them. Similarly, this is a Happy New Year for Karnataka because its moviegoers have something new, the Rs 200 ticket pricing,” he says cheerfully.
Pannaga Bharana’s debut venture had been a little delayed. After eight years of study at the New York Film Academy, the director started on this film and he says it was worth the wait. “The delay has taught me to be more patient,” he says. “I has taught me that patience and perseverence, which are very important tools for a director. I think, probably, if I had started earlier then things would have been very easy for me and I wouldn’t have experienced difficulty of getting out a good film. This is also a lesson I have learnt and I am taking it as a good thing.”
Though he is known as the son of national award-winning director Nagabharana, Pannaga has not fallen back on that. He is trained under his father but the young director says his ideas have changed over the years.
“The last film I worked with my father’s film was Allama and that taught me a lot,” he says. “Working with great technicians, who are national and state awardees was a new experience, and I earned it. This experience guided through my first film, Happy New Year, and much more than I had imagined. I was well prepared for it and I knew what I wanted. All that happened was because of all the learning I took from my previous films.”
Did his theory lesson in New York help him practically? He says, “Ofcourse... Shooting is a creative pursuit and it depends on each individual. But when it comes to planning of preproduction and post production, it is very important for a filmmaker to save money. And this is where my study at New York Film Academy came in handy, in structuring the film. In fact, I had planned a schedule for 50 days and the project was done in 46 days.”
Like every newcomer who tries at a new aesthetic, Pannaga too wanted to do something out-of-the-box in his first. The director in Happy New Year brings together 5 movies in one film and everything runs parallely. How will get the audience interested in this new concept? “That was the biggest challenge,” he says. “The screen-time for each story was a little short and we had to establish the characters, their background and their motives, and place an obstacle in their path before the end. Many thanks to my writers who have done a fabulous job. We as a team figured out how to end Happy New Year.”
Pannaga is happy to be in the industry at a time when newcomers are coming in and experimenting with fresh stories. “This helps with healthy competition and there is also an audience for it, who line up for good films,” he says.
The director has been considering this subject and the idea for a while, and he had been on the lookout for the right producer like BC Patil who would understand the structure of the film. “I never thought that Happy New Year will be my first film because I had thought producers might hesitate to invest in such a new concept,” he says. “Then BC Patil came on board and I am thankful for it, and pleasantly surprised.”
Pannaga, even before turning director, has had a good rapport with people in the industry and this helped him get the best star cast. Except for Srusti Patil , who is a new comer, the director has brought in well-known faces from the industry including BC Patil, Saikumar, Sudharani, Vijay Raghavendra, Diganth, Dhananjay, Sruthi Hariharan and Sonu Gowda.
Was this a risk as a director? He says,”Not at all... After seeing the final product, I know it is a complete entertainer. Anybody who comes in looking for entertainment, good performances and a good story, Happy New Year is the complete package, which different people can enjoy. Like producers like to say, ‘Slum to software’, everybody will love the film.”