S.K Bhagwan is one of the veterans of the
kannada film industry. In his career spanning for over 40 years he has worked in
many departments of the film industry.
He has been Dr Rajkumar’s close friend since
he started working in films from the year 1954. Popularly known as Dorai Bhagwan
(Dorai was his partner and friend), the director duo have given some of the most
memorable films to the Kannada Film lovers. He has worked in films like
CHANDRAVALLIYA THOTA, SANDHYA RAAGA, KASTHURI NIVAASA, YERADU KANASU, VASANTHA
GEETHE, OPERATION DAIMOND ROCKET, and JEEVANA CHAITHRA.These are considered to
be some of their best films. We met Sri Bhagwan at Adarsha Film Institute (He is
the Principal of the Institute)
OKC: You started your career in the fifties
when very few kannada films were made. Tell us about those days.
Bhagwan: Those were
the golden days of kannada cinema. Although very few films were made, the
quality of films were excellent. Film stories were based on Hindu mythology. Most
of the actors those days were stage actors who used to perform in front of live audiences. They
also knew to sing. Making movies with such artists was indeed a privilege. Only
about two or three kannada films used to be released in a year. People had to
wait for a long time to see a movie.So the anticipation was huge.
OKC: Dr Rajkumar has worked in most of the
films you have director. tell us about him.
Rajkumar is one of the best actors the world has ever seen. He is absolutely special. His
dedication, commitment and the love for his profession has made him what he is today. His
contribution to kannada cinema is immense. The moment a director says action
you can see a different Rajkumar. If he plays
the character of Ranadheera Kantheerava,you tend to believe that Ranadheera
Kanthirava is in front of you. Such is the impact when he acts. I have been very
lucky to be his director in more than 30 films. Personally he is a very good
human being. He is a versatile singer and a musician. He is the father figure
for all the kannadigas will cherish each and every moment I have spent with him.
OKC: Dorai was the integral part of your
long journey in the film industry. How was the experience of working with him?
For any director to work with another director it is important to understand
each others ideas. The most important factor which made us click was coordination. The
kind of subjects we chose to make a film was also very important. Dorai was also
a very good writer. This is quite evident in the subjects we have chosen to make
films. Due to these films the name Dorai Bhagwan will always be remembered by
the kannada people.
OKC: What about the comedy kings of kannada
cinema Balakrishna and Narasimharaju?They have also acted in most of your films.
could not imagine a story without Balanna and Narasimharaju.Both were terrific. I
must tell you some of the lesser known facts about these two.
Balanna was an excellent playwright. He had a
passion for writing. He has even written so many plays for us. He was a
brilliant performer. He started his career by doing negative roles. But he
became popular after he started doing comedy roles. His dialogue delivery was extraordinary. I
remember the days when we used to hang out together in madras. He was very
generous by nature. I have seen him giving money to many unit members of the studio. We
also toured the whole state in 1958 with our theatre group. As we were very
close I could discuss anything with him.
Narasimharaju was a hilarious comedian. The
moment he entered the stage or appeared in front of the screen people couldn't
stop laughing. Such was his personality. His comic timing, his sense of humor
was unbelievable. In most of our films he has acted in a comic role. Although he
was a bit short tempered off the screen, he was a great human being. He used to
be a very professional. I remember one day he was very furious because we could
not send a car to pick him up at seven in the morning. He came fuming to the
sets because he was late for the shoot. After a while he came to me tapped my
back and started laughing. But Narasimharaju suffered a lot during his last days, he
could not overcome the grief of losing his son who died in an accident. For a
man who provided wholesome entertainment and made people laugh it was an tragic end. But
he will be remembered as the best comedian of kannada films.
OKC: Music has played a very important role
in each and every film of yours. Tell us about the process of music production
Bhagvan: Music for
us was the most important ingredient of our films. Dorai was a sitar player
himself. He had an extensive knowledge of Hindustani ragas. So we had a very
good ear for music. I used to follow the hindi music scene. I was crazy about
the Mukhesh Rafi and Kishore songs. We were lucky enough to work with great
music directors like G.K Venkatesh, M.Rangarao and Rajan Nagendra.later we
worked with Upendra Kumar. My favorite songs from my films are NAADAMAYA from
JEEVANACHAITRA, AADISI NOODU BEELISI NOODU URULI HOGADU from KASTURI NIVASA,
AAKASHADINDA DHAREGILIDU BANDE from CHANDANADA GOMBE and all the songs from
SANDHYA RAAGA and ERADU KANASU.
We had a very good lyricist in Chi
Udayashankar.He was a brilliant man who could pen the verses in a very quick
time. The lines he would give us would be exactly what we wanted. Singers like
Ghantasaala, P.B.Srinivas, S.Janaki, P.Suseela, and S.P.Balasubramaniam gave
life to all our songs.We were absolutely delighted when Rajkumar himself started
to sing for his films. We always belived in his ability to sing. He sang some
difficult songs like NAADAMAYA from JEEVANACHITRA. It was a very tough song to
sing. But the greatness of Rajkumar is evident here. He sang the song with
OKC: You were the first directors to
introduce bond films in kannada.Were you confident that this concept would work
Bhagvan: It was a
unique experience for us. We started our career by directing mythology based movies. Then
there were some films like KASTURI NIVAASA which were famous for its songs and
story. We wanted to do all kind of movies. So we thought making a bond film
would be a good idea. CID 999 IN GOA and CID 999 IN JACKPOT were back to back
bond films we made. everyone including rajkumar and narasimharaju enjoyed this experience. Then
we made Operation Diamond Racket which was the biggest hit among this genre of
OKC: You have worked with most of the
actresses all the way from fifties to the nineties. Tell us about them.
Bhagvan: We have
worked with almost everybody in the sixties and seventies. Leelavathi, Jayanthi,
Bharati, Arati, Kalpana. Manjula, Lakshmi, Geetha, Sudharani are some of the
actresses we have worked with. Each and every one of them have played important
roles in our films. Every female character in our films have had well defined roles. So
they have contributed to the success of our films.
OKC: You are also an actor. you have acted
in many films. isn't it?
people do not know this but I have acted in a film as a hero. The name of the
film is Mangala Soothra.I have also acted in character roles in 6 other films
like Bhagyodaya Bangalore mail,Rowdy ranganna Hosabelaku Vasantha geetha Aaditya
OKC: Most of your films you made in
seventies and eighties were based on novels. don't you think film makers today
can adapt stories from kadambaries to make good films?
Bhagvan: It's true
that the novels and kadambaries can be made into very good films. But today you
can rarely see a producer who has the guts to make a kadambari into a film. The
film making process today is a costly affair. So they think it is a risk.
OKC: You are now busy making television serials. Have
you completely stopped directing films?
is a powerful medium. As you directly reach the living rooms of people they
relate to it better than they do with films. So the response we get for a good
tv serial is huge.I am planning a new serial right now. I would like to
concentrate on this now.
OKC: You are also the principal of the
adarsha film institute. you also teach film direction. how does it feel to
interact with young and aspiring directors and actors?
youngsters are full of energy. Their confidence in themselves is also immense. But
they have to be trained in various departments of film making, To excel in their
profession. so we try to impart the knowledge of filmmaking to them. We call top
directors and actors to interact with them. We also show them a lot of films in
our screening hall. The main intention is to help them learn every aspect of
OKC: What do you feel about the
present condition of the Kannada film industry? Most of the films released this
year have been flops.
Bhagvan; These are the testing times for everybody. Its
time for introspection. Where are we going wrong ? the most important question
for which we have to find the answer. I believe the producers and directors have
to make an effort to make some decent films with a good story line. Now a days
the directors forget the importance of a good story. We need some good creative
story writers. Let us hope the situation will improve in the coming days.
OKC: We also hope we can see some good films
in the coming days. Thank you for a wonderful interview.
Bhagvan: thanks a