Director Chethan Kumar waited for almost five years to direct Puneeth Rajkumar in a film. And finally, his dream came true with James, which has turned out to be quite an emotional ride. “James has been the hardest journey, emotionally and physically. It was bittersweet every time I watched the shots, and his presence will be missed,” says the director, who started off the James journey in 2015 with a poster, and the film finally went on floors in 2020.
“Helming a film for Appu has been every Kannada director’s dream. Given an opportunity, I didn’t mind waiting. I was hopeful about our collaboration, and it finally came through,” says Chethan, adding, “My first connect with Appu Sir was in 2012 when he switched on the camera for my first film, Bahaddhur, and also gave a voice-over for the film.
When we were discussing James in 2015, Appu Sir had committed to three films. Since it was taking time, he made sure I continued to do other projects. Finally, after 5 years of talks, James muhurath took place on January 19, 2020, and on the same day, my third film, Bharaate, completed 100 days in the theatres.”
Chethan had a handful of scripts in the bank, and he felt Puneeth perfectly fit the bill in an action entertainer her had ready. “Puneeth’s fitness was a perfect fit for an action entertainer I had in mind. Even though my film has no connection with a Bond-style film, I still felt James would be an apt title,” he says.
Chethan, who did not wish to reveal the storyline of James, shares that everybody should experience the film in theatres. “As an actor, Appu was a complete entertainer, and his void can’t be filled,” says Chethan, who believes Puneeth’s portions as a soldier will be widely appreciated. “Every fan of Appu will be thrilled to watch him as an army officer.”
Chethan revealed that Appu had watched the film entirely but in parts. “Appu was always there during the spot editing, and he knew how the film was shaping up. But I wished he had watched the entire film,” says Chethan, adding, “He is one actor, who had good faith in the directors, and believed in their work.”
The worldwide release of James coincides with Puneeth Rajkumar’s birth anniversary and the film has been breaking many records in terms of the ticket price, and theatre count. The satellite rights of James, which was sold to Star Suvarna, is said to have been the highest ever in the actor’s career, and the digital rights have been sold to Sony LIV for a whopping price.
Incidentally, James is the first Kannada film to be aired on this platform. “The respect for Puneeth is not just as a hero, but also for his personality. James is just not another film, it is a tribute event that is given by all Kannadigas,” says Chethan.
Signing off, Chethan had a message to all the Appu fans, “I request all Appu fans not to watch James as a regular cinema. It was his wish to release James on March 17, which we have managed to fulfill. Watch James for Appu, and enjoy every bit of his presence on the silver screen.”
James backed by Kishore Pathikonda has an ensemble cast and features Puneeth in multiple shades. The film stars Priya Anand as the female lead, also stars Sarath Kumar, Meka Srikanth, Chikkanna, Shine Shetty, and Tilak playing prominent roles. James has music by Charan Raj and cinematography by J Swamy.