'Ghost' was originally penned with Shivanna in mind,' says Srini

The door to entering the industry as an actor and director was opened thanks to the support and opportunity provided by Uppi.
Shivarajkumar, director Srini and Jayaram on the sets of Ghost
Shivarajkumar, director Srini and Jayaram on the sets of Ghost

Srini started as a background dancer, which led him to turn choreographer and then embarked on a stint as a radio jockey. This phase provided him with invaluable insights into the world of sound and its profound role in the realm of cinema. Subsequently, he ventured into crafting short films. Among these, it was a particular short film that served as his breakthrough moment when he was offered a project by filmmaker, Upendra, who gave him the opportunity to direct him in Topiwala. This then ushered in a cascade of opportunities in acting and directing. Currently, he’s preparing for his upcoming major film, Ghost, featuring Shivarajkumar.

Srini
Srini

“I consider this journey a blend of both fortune and skill,” he reflects. “I’m a self-taught filmmaker with an online education. The door to entering the industry as an actor and director was opened thanks to the support and opportunity provided by Uppi. Directing a film for Uppi felt like attending a school. As I yearned to satiate my hunger for acting and directing, I brought forth Srinivasa Kalayana, followed by a thrilling venture in Birbal, and a family entertainer named Old Monk.

At one point, Srini did express his desire to direct Shivanna, and an opportunity materialised through Ghost. “Intriguingly, the story of Ghost was originally penned with Shivanna in mind. The opportunity came about when I got connected with producer Sandesh Nagaraj through a relative who inquired if I had a script for Shivanna. When I shared the subject with him and met Shivanna, he was immediately captivated by the title itself and readily agreed. All of this unfolded within a mere two days, and we swiftly announced the project. We commenced work last Dasara, and this Dasara, we are prepared for the grand unveiling,” he says.

Ghost, being a heist thriller, stands as a much-anticipated multi-starrer, boasting a remarkable ensemble cast hailing from various regions, including Malayalam actor Jayaram and Bollywood veteran Anupam Kher, along with Prashant Narayanan. Reflecting on the casting process, Srini comments, “Initially, when we were deliberating on the cast, and as we did have a female lead. While we sought to balance the ensemble, I had a list that I presented to Shivanna. It was his suggestion that lead us to consider actor Jayaram, convinced that his experience would prove invaluable. Jayaram found resonance with the story and character, and he readily joined the team. When I conceived the story, Anupam Kher was already on my mind, and it became a reality, serving as a significant boost.” The film also stars Santhosh Hegde and Arachna Jois in pivotal roles. “Each of them play an indispensable part in the film. Moreover, I always strive to introduce fresh faces, as they infuse a sense of novelty into the project.”

Keeping Shivanna’s role shrouded in mystery, Srini comments, “Typically, revealing it would compromise the suspense in a thriller. I want the audience to savour the element of surprise, especially as Shivanna portrays two or three distinct shades. Whether the entirety of the film unfolds within the confines of a jail or not will be unveiled during the screenplay.”Ghost explores a genre that is less explored in Kannada, and Srini believes that action films possess universal appeal, rendering a heist thriller suitable for a multilingual release.

When asked about the film’s reliance on technology, Srini credits every technician, including the VFX experts and music director Arjun Janya. He also gives a special mention to Mahendra Simha, a former still photographer turned cinematographer. “His initial foray was into the realm of photography, and Mahendra Simha’s extensive experience in lighting was of paramount importance,” he says.

Srini’s first stint with a multiverse comes with the inclusion of Birbal’s character in Ghost. Srini explains, “A heist narrative necessitates the involvement of numerous characters, leading me to contemplate, and when I thought, ‘Why not introduce Birbal into the mix?’ As I stepped in front of the camera, it became apparent that Birbal had a place in Ghost, and this decision proved fruitful. Over the course of a decade, Ghost will develop with distinct characters, as well as Birbal,” he says.

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