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A New ‘Chapter’

Kannada actor Yash talks to Padma Iyer about his upcoming film K.G.F Chapter 1, which is releasing in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada

K.G.F Chapter 1 is very different from the kind of films you have done in the past. How did the project come about?

I always wanted to make something big for my industry. People tend to compare film industries but I believe that no industry is big or small; it all depends on the kind of films they make. I have always wanted to show the world what the Kannada film industry is capable of. Since my films have done well at the box office, it gives producers the confidence to further invest money and bigger films can be made.

Coincidentally, at the same time, Prashanth Neel was planning his second film. I had watched his first film and loved it. He is a wonderful guy and a wonderful director. He had written a bit of the K.G.F story keeping me in mind. And I too wanted to work with him. The producer of this film Vijay Kiragandur is like my brother. This is my second film with him. We are like family. So, all of us came together with a view of making a big film in Kannada. And when Baahubali happened – they had released the film in five languages – we thought that instead of releasing K.G.F with subtitles, we could also dub it and release it in other languages and cater to a larger audience.

The film is dubbed in four languages. Why didn’t you lend you voice for all the versions?

I have dubbed only in Kannada. I would have to work on the other languages if I had to dub in them. I don’t want to jeopardise my film just to prove that I am a hardworking actor and I can do it all. Nobody is bigger than cinema.

How did you prepare for the film and the character?

I was part of the research on the film with Prashanth, so we knew exactly what we were making. As an actor, I didn’t have to work much. It would be a lie if I said it took me a while to get into the character or that I had done some special prep. Acting is my job and I do it easily. A lot depends on how well you understand the script.

I went through a lot of readings and discussed the script with the director. That is how K.G.F evolved. All of us sat together and discussed it. Prashanth used to tell me about each and every scene that he had written and then we would discuss it. I knew exactly what he was making and what he wanted. The toughest part in the preparation was sporting a beard!

You don’t like it?

I do. My wife and my mother don’t. And I had to maintain it for two years.

There is talk of K.G.F clashing with Zero in the Hindi belt. But what is interesting is that your film will go head-to-head at the box office in every language it is releasing in. How do you look at this?

When you have this kind of release date, one that is close to a festival, there will inevitably be releases around that time. It is a wonderful date and a lot of people will be in the mood to watch films at that time. Yes, there will be competition but I believe there is always space for two to three films to release at the same time. It all depends on how good your work is and how much people want to watch your film.

I feel that K.G.F is very unique. If the other movie is good, let the audience watch that movie as well as this one. I feel I have nothing to lose. I am very confident especially with the way the trailer has been received here, and the way the (Hindi film) industry is treating us. This shows that our work is being noticed. I am very sure the audience will also respect it.

Do you think K.G.F will change the perception of Kannada films?

It is a beginning. So any success will change a lot of things and with K.G.F’s success I expect the same. Even if that doesn’t happen, I will consider myself a soldier. Irrespective of whether a soldier wins or loses the war, he is always respected. K.G.F is the pride of our industry.

While this film is being dubbed and released in other languages, we don’t have films being dubbed and released in Kannada. It has been a long-standing policy. How do you look at it in the present scenario?

The world is always changing and you have to cope with change, or else you will be left behind. There was a lot of competition for the Kannada industry from other industries and they wanted to encourage local talent. Today, the Kannada industry is doing really well. In a way, I think it was a good thing because we are able to understand many languages since we watched a lot of other language films that were not dubbed in Kannada. But I think we should change slowly.

There has been a lot of interest in South Indian films. Earlier, they were being remade and now we have production houses like Excel Entertainment presenting South films and releasing them in the Hindi belt. Do you think this is because South Indian filmmakers are not worried about the box office and are ready to make large-scale films, especially with different subjects?

We do keep the box office in mind but we take bigger risks because anyway we are competing with a lot of people. And there are some really good technicians in South cinema. They think of unique subjects and bigger films. Also, the producers don’t treat cinema as a business. For instance, Vijay sir has never thought of cinema as a business. We all did. We thought about the market. He only thought about the fact that it was going to be a massive film, which would be the pride of the film industry. To date, he has never asked about the budget. So there are such wonderful producers and technicians there.

I cannot talk about Bollywood as I don’t know how things work there. Yes, we are a little crazy when it comes to films. We go a little overboard and try to do different things. We are not scared of failure. If you stick to a formula thinking about numbers, you will end up making mediocre stuff. We have to show the audience what different kind of cinema can be made.

This is K.G.F Chapter 1. When do we get to see Chapter 2?

The script is ready. All we need to do is start shooting. Now I am busy with the promotions of this film and then I want to spend some time with my family. After a two-month break, we should start working on Chapter 2.

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