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Exclusive! Govinda Govinda was written with the characters first, and a story woven around them: Sumanth

This, says the actor, ensured that the artistes became the characters and not the other way around.

Prathibha Joy
Nov 24, 2021
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Sumanth Shailendra

Five years is a long time to be away from an industry. In Sumanth Shailendra Babu’s case, though, the time away from Kannada films first happened when he did two back-to-back Telugu films, Brand Babu and Miss India, and just as he was prepping for his return to Sandalwood, the pandemic struck. We were all set to release Govinda Govinda when lockdown was announced. In the time since, we’ve been waiting for the right window to hit theatres and will now, on November 26. We did have offers for a straight-to-OTT release, given that my Telugu films had done fairly well in terms of viewership. But the numbers for Kannada viewership on such platforms are still negligible. Moreover, even before the pandemic, one of the Kannada industry’s big grouse was that not enough people were watching our films. That is slowly and steadily changing because filmmakers are now toying with fresh and experimental subjects. If I put my film on an established OTT platform, there are multiple challenges for my audience, starting with the cost factor and accessibility. And any which way, by the end of day, a crystal-clear pirated print will be in circulation on messaging sites. In such a scenario, it is jut better to release in theatres,” says Sumanth, about his latest Kannada film.

The film, which also stars Roopesh Shetty, Kavitha Gowda, Achyuth Kumar, Vijay Chendoor and Bhavana, among others, is a comedy crime thriller, a genre that Sumanth thinks will be interesting to watch. “Govinda Govinda is based on an original story written by Ravi Garani, directed by Thilak, who used to work for the small screen earlier. I have always worked with newcomer filmmakers and varying genres and that continues with this film. This is a comedy crime thriller, which focuses on a bunch of young, immature friends, who, like most people in that age group, think that they know best. What happens when they get into a sticky situation and how they try to get out of it forms the crux of the story. Along the way, they also realise that they are not mature or worldly wise to handle certain situations,” explains Sumanth.

The narrative, he adds, begins in Bijapur, with most of the dialogues in the dialect of the region, and moves to Bengaluru. “The film also explores relationships between parents and children, and how the younger lot often disregards the wisdom passed down to them. In fact, there are two parallel stories in this film – one about an aspiring filmmaker approaching a heroine for dates, and another about a college student, whose passion is dance, but is forbidden by her folks from pursuing it. But what’s most interesting is that the way that Govinda Govinda was written began with the characters. Once we had that in place, we wove a story and screenplay around them, instead of the other way. Here, more often than not, a story is written and characters are force-fitted into it. And if the film has a popular hero with a set image, the character is written keeping that in mind, which, in the overall scheme of things can be detrimental for the narrative. We have stayed away from this formula, because we wanted the actors to become the characters and not the other way around,” says the actor.

Sumanth adds that his target audience is families; the clean ‘U’ censor certificate being testimony to that. “Even the comedy in the film is clean and situation based,” he signs off.

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