The as-yet-untitled film will do justice to Jaggesh’s Navarasa Nayaka moniker, says Guru
Guru Raj, the son of Kannada actor Jaggesh, has been toying with the idea of direction for a while, but knew he needed to hone his skills before actually taking the plunge. After years of procrastinating, Guru utilized the break from work during the pandemic to enroll himself for many online courses, including one from a Los Angeles-based film academy on direction and how to streamline scripts.
The actor, whose last release was Vishnu Circle in late 2019, adds that although offers came to him for new films, he was so affected by the pandemic that he didn’t take up any. “I wanted to be safe. It was not about me contracting COVID, but about doing so and then passing it on to my five-year-old son, wife or my mother, who is diabetic. I took a complete sabbatical and stopped most of the things I used to do, including playing golf, and decided to reinvent myself. I always wanted to be a film director, but I never had the time or discipline to sit and write and to be a filmmaker that’s what you have to do, especially if you want to present your own stories. The course from LA helped me give structure to my thoughts and I wrote as many as six different scripts. I narrated one to my father, who was not only appreciative of it, but it has also been decided to be his next after the three films that he has lined up, - Thotapuri, Ranganayaka and Raghavendra Stores. Our film will be officially announced on March 17, his birthday,” says Guru, adding that he is looking at going on floors with it in June 2022.
Guru also believes that as a director he can’t get a better actor than Jaggesh to begin his filmmaking journey with. “One thing that I have noticed is that most films starring Jaggesh have an 80-90% split of comedy, with the rest being emotional content. He is called the Navarasa Nayaka, but they don’t attempt to allow him to show those nine rasas, because it would have to be done at the script level. My film, in that sense, will show audiences a different Jaggesh, with a character that embodies all the nine rasas in appropriate proportions. I believe I will truly be able to show people what he is capable of as an actor. I have always marveled at the variety that Kamal Haasan brings into his craft and the freedom that he has to experiment as an actor. My father, I think, has been typecast and the priority for most filmmakers is that he has to make people laugh; anything else is only an added bonus to the story. Keeping that in mind, our film will be a complete entertainer that will make audiences laugh, but also has scope to show the depth of Jaggesh the actor,” Guru elaborates. “I may just do a cameo in the film to share screenspace with my father as an adult, as I have only done it as a child earlier,” he adds.
Although his next will probably be the directorial, Guru is not putting acting in the backburner. “Ideally, in a year, I would like to direct one and act in another. I think I am at the perfect age, where I am not too old and can connect with the younger audience as an actor, but am also old enough to bring in my life experiences into directing a film. In fact, I have two films which are ready, one is Kaage Motte that was earlier called Dhande Boys and is set to release on October 1. This is an action film, but it ties in neatly with the title, like, for instance, crows have a pack mentality and are very territorial. In the film, my character is like a crow; he's all about friendship, loyalty and sharing,” explains Guru.
His second project is filmmaker AR Babu’s last directorial that also has Sadhu Kokila in the lead. “The film, Summane Iralarade Iruve Bitkonda, is complete, but Babu passed away just as he finished it, so his son has taken over and is trying to bring it out. It’s an out-and-out comedy in which I have played a struggling director. The film has an emotional connect, because AR Babu has made many films with my father and this is his last work. I have known him since I was a child, and I would really like for that movie to release,” he signs off.