June 5, 2014 in Uncategorized
Its been about 8 months since Lucia released in theatres in Karnataka, 10 months since it premiered in London. Every day I still wake up to some news about this movie. To tell you the truth, even I am a little tired now, bored as well. But the news just doesn’t stop coming. As I am writing this article, I am also thinking of the show in Delhi next week at the Habitat film festival. Now I look back, and I see I am quite disassociated from the film, and that makes it very easy for me to ask – What is it that worked for Lucia?
This takes me back to Feb 2012. I had given up all hope on everything. I was frustrated, irritated, angry, and quite lost. I have come to realize that, its only when you are in such a state of mind, that you are able to do something drastic. Like the famous dialogue from the movie Fight Club, said by Tyler Durden – “Its only when you have lost everything, that you are capable of doing anything”. That is what made me do this project, the first crowd funded project in Kannada.
Why is it that I ended up doing it? Am I really that smart? Am I a businessman? Is it because I am educated? The answer is none of that. The only reason why Project Lucia was a success is because I was myself in my own eyes. I had no image of me, I had no ego. This is the single most quality that I seem to have imbibed from my family and friends, and it has given me this success.
You may ask how that is such an important thing. Well, the big mistake that we do in our industry is that we paint a false image. Yes, our job is tell fiction on screen and entertain people. But for some reason we have been doing the same Offscreen. We unnecessarily lie about the business and the health of the Industry. We have forgotten to see ourselves from the audience POV. And that is the first norm that I broke. I stepped out of my glorified position of a successful debut director, I moved away from that, went to the audience and looked at myself and the ecosystem I was part of. And I could clearly see that our ways of functioning was all wrong. It may give short term benefits but in the long run, it didnt seem progressive.
As soon as I started telling the truth to the people, on my blog, on my social network, I became a part of them. They made me one amongst them, and that is the key to the success of Lucia. They never looked at me as a guy from the industry who is challenging them with a movie, who is trying to loot them in the name of entertainment. They looked at me as a guy next door, who was aspiring to do something NEW. And that is why they supported me unconditionally.
So, when I told these people, that I will make an honest attempt to make a feature film in Kannada with deserving talents and will try to put this film on a global platform, they just wanted to support me blindly, they wanted to do that because they wanted such a thing to happen. Please note, they didn’t support Pawan Kumar, they didn’t support a title called Lucia, they supported the vision of the project. To take Kannada cinema to a global audience.
How did they know this film would do it? I had not given them any information, any film at a script level may look interesting, but they need not become great films. And Lucia was no different. I was thinking it will become a good film, but it could have been a bad one too, I could have failed. However, people didn’t think of all that. They were more optimistic than I was. They just wanted to support anyone who was going to make an honest attempt to bring in a change. And thankfully I was in the right place at the right time.
When I got the funding of 51lakh rupees, my dad told me “Now, your most important duty is to make the film, earn that 51lakh and return it back to those who had blindly trusted you” He didn’t say, take your share, make profits etc; the first priority was to respect the fund. And thankfully I had the sense and the conviction to follow that. Through out the project, my entire team’s priority was to NOT WASTE MONEY. Yes, we had a film to do, we had a dream to live, but not at the cost of someone else’s losses. Once this agenda was set, things became very clear for everyone. And everyone worked towards that religiously.
There are many unique incidents. Early on in the project, when were had just finished about 4 days of shooting, we had to take a break for the weekend. Satish Neenasam, the lead actor, gave all his costumes and requested us to have it washed before the next shooting day. Understandable, they all had become dirty and it definitely needed a wash. So I told my associate director Rajath Mahesh to find a dry cleaner shop and give it for a washing. As you all know, we were on a minimal crew set up. The whole movie was just done with below basic requirements. So we didn’t have a costumer, or a costume assistant, none of that. I knew that this dry cleaning would cost us a few thousands, and was a little worried about the money getting spent. Anyway, on monday morning, I reached the shooting spot and I saw that all clothes were washed and Satish was wearing them, I went to my associate and asked him how much he spent on the washing, and he said “I washed them all myself, I thought why waste money on dry cleaning”. That is one of the examples of how this project has shaped up. Rajath Mahesh had no reason to do it, I had not asked him to, it was something that came to him from within.
Like this, there are uncountable examples. Random people whom I have never met in my life were somehow indirectly having an impact on how project lucia shapes up. Ashok R, a regular IT Kannada person from Bangalore, an ardent fan of Kannada movies, became instrumental in providing us with the apt locations and corporate support. All of which eventually helped in raising the quality of the film. Poornachandra Tejaswi quit his Job, for a project which was not promising him any great financial support. There are just too many names to add to this list.
We all did this film for the love of it. There really was no hope for financial success. For the entire 18 months of this project, I took no money from the 51 lakh as my fee or for my survival. It just didn’t feel right to do that. I just survived on my saving, sometimes my wife was paying the bills, but we were never sad about it. I guess, we were enjoying the challenge so much that, none of the practical problems ever mattered to us. Now when I look back, it feels scary, I wonder if I have the same courage to do such things again.
As I said earlier, we gave up our ego. We told our realities to the people, to our own audience and they gladly stepped in to support us in achieving a common goal – to make GOOD Kannada films and show it to the world. That is all we as an Industry should aim at. The rest, the audience will take care.
Was Lucia a Success? It depends on how you look at success. If it is purely about Box office, then Lucia just managed to survive. The market has so much potential, I mean, when I recently said that Lucia’s 100 days collection is equal to a star’s one day collection, I was not being sad about it. Its our reality, and we need to embrace that fact. For me Lucia is a success. Lets keep aside the Box Office success, yes it earned profits, but lets just keep that aside. The fact that we can today make such stories in Kannada is a success. Many people across the globe today talk about Kannada film, thats a bigger success. People often accuse us of remakes, and thankfully this time, we have given remake rights to other languages, Lucia is getting made in Tamil, telugu, Hindi. Thats a much bigger success. Finally, it has made many people feel proud about themselves, they take pride in saying that “Kannada audience made Lucia” and I am so happy that it will be remembered that way. All this is success yes.
At the end of this article, all I want to probably sum up is, lets stop treating ourselves as creators and the audience as consumers. A filmmaker and the audience are participating together in the success or the failure of a film. As soon as we give our audience the same importance, there will be magic. Lets not challenge them, or allow them to challenge us. There are many ways to work along with them, and if that is achieved, we can take the original talents of our land to another level, give them the global attention they deserve. We shouldn’t forget that, when a talent from our state shines, its not just him or her, but it is the whole community that shines.
For ever, Lucia will be known as a “First Kannada film produced by the Audience”, and thats a title the community has earned for itself. I hope, that in the future there will be many more such examples, where the community gets the due credit it deserves.