A filmmaker learns lessons with every project, and director Anup Bhandari shares that he understood the importance of self-evolution right in his second film, Rajaratha. “I learnt what I shouldn’t do from Rajaratha. There were a lot of things I did right, but what mattered the most was what I didn’t do right. I felt the need to focus on the story and work on the screenplay to connect with the audience, and I worked along the lines for my next, Vikrant Rona. In general, even when I look back at Rangitaranga, I see a lot of faults in the film. It is also the same with films helmed by other directors.
I usually find it difficult to enjoy the film because I always spot the loopholes. Having said that, Vikrant Rona, from script to screen has been a satisfying journey. I’m waiting to know the audience reaction,” says Anup Bhandari ahead of the film’s release on July 28. Sharing that the responses have been overwhelming, Anup exudes confidence about the way the film has shaped up. “It will work even if the audience connects to 50 per cent to the film. I am not nervous at all, and it might also be because I am too tired to have any other feeling,” says the filmmaker.
Vikrant Rona is Anup Bhandari’s step into the big leagues, but how did such a blockbuster collaboration with Sudeep happen in the first place? “I initially hesitated to tell Sudeep sir about Vikrant Rona because I didn’t feel that it was an out-and-out commercial film. But I had discussed it with Jack Manju, who later became the producer of the film. Manju liked the script and asked me to tell Priya (Sudeep’s wife). She was so convinced with the story and put in a word to Sudeep.
Once he heard the story, he wanted to make this a big film,” he says. Anup Bhandari categorises himself as a director who makes commercial films with a sensitive subjects and feels that any film that makes money should be considered a mass film. “I don’t agree that 5 fights and songs make for a commercial outing. I call it a formula subject,” says Anup, who adds that in Vikrant Rona, the commercial aspects come organically.
“I usually stay away from illogical scenes, and this film did not demand that kind of sequence at all. Luckily, Sudeep liked the film for what it was. Had he said that the story is good, but let us make it commercial, adding fights and mass dialogues, the subject would have died. But he never went into that zone. That way the essence of the film never got lost, but only became big. Sudeep’s presence in the film gave me the license to implement what I had envisioned,” he says.
The film was extensively shot on the set, and it was a new experience for Anup. “I usually like shooting amid nature, and even this film has a few portions shot in Kerala and Maharashtra. But when it came to working on the set, it needed a lot of planning, but I felt a lot more in control,” says Anup, who credits his technicians for being supportive. While Anup was clear that the film is fit to be shown in multiple languages, the content is suited to be made in 3D, says the director.
“The output of 3D is realistic and mounted on a bigger scale. 3D has not been used as a gimmick in the film. It helps to take the audience into the world of Vikrant Rona and adds depth.” The film also starring Nirup Bhandari, and Neetha Ashok is a fantasy mystery thriller that also comprises a handful of child actors including Anup Bhandari’s daughter (Nishka Bhandari). “There are a lot of kids, who come at different points in the film. The angle of kids narrating the story connects with the film. Subconsciously, this will also attract kids to the theatres. Rest everything else is organic,” he says.