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Exclusive! Kiran Srinivas was sold on the subject of Mandala The UFO Incident for its script and Anant Nag

The film, which releases in theatres on March 10 is the first in what will hopefully be a sci-fi trilogy that will address the void in Sandalwood for the genre.

Exclusive! Kiran Srinivas was sold on the subject of Mandala The UFO Incident for its script and Anant Nag
Kiran Srinivas plays the lead in Mandala: The UFO story

Last Updated: 10.25 PM, Mar 06, 2023


This Friday, one of the Kannada films hitting theatres is called Mandala: The UFO Incident. If you’re wondering why you’ve not heard of it earlier, that’s perhaps because it was earlier called Mysore Masala. The film, directed by Ajay Sarpeshkar, has Kiran Srinivas in the lead, who was last seen in the Kannada film Onthara Bannagalu. “It was a creative decision to change the title, because the film doesn’t have much of a Mysuru connection, barring a couple of scenes. Also, the team got feedback about a viral pornographic video called Mysore Mallige, which had people wondering if Mysore Masala was something like that. Mandala sounded better,” explains Kiran, adding that although he shot for the film in 2018, the visual effects took time and were delayed owing to the pandemic.

In a quick chat with us ahead of the film’s release, the actor gets chatty about the sci-fi flick, life in Mumbai and more…

Mandala: The UFO Incident

Mandala: The UFO Incident releases in theatres on March 10 and I hope audiences like it. It’s taken us a while to get it together. It’s a very well-made film from a debutant director, who is dabbling with the sci-fi genre. The story is very interesting and the narrative never side-tracks from the main objective. From start to finish it is about unravelling a mystery. Written by Ajay along with actor Prakash Belawadi, the film is about a missing astrophysicist (Sharmiela Mandre), who is presumed abducted by ‘aliens’. I play her partner and go on this mission to find her, but, there are obstacles along the way, including a police officer who does not believe my ‘theory’. The whole film is about whether what I am saying is true or if there is another game at play.

The visual effects in the film are literally out of this world and elevates it to another level. I am not saying any of this because Mandala is my film. The background score gave me an ET-Jurassic Park vibe. I have seen the film and if at all there are any drawbacks, they are more technical in nature.


Prakash Belawadi’s brilliance

Ajay had written audacious script on the lines of the Guardians of the Galaxy, where you have a bunch of superheroes who are powered by alien technology and are protecting Indian heritage. By day they have normal day-to-day lives and jobs, but by night they are a group working for the greater good and that’s the Mandala reference. But the script was impossible to execute, as it would be unbelievably expensive to make it.

Prakash said it won’t work the way it is and decided to write a prequel to this by mellowing the sci-fi bits and work on character building. He then got involved in the writing and has worked with Ajay on the story for a trilogy. Prakash rewrote the screenplay and has done a brilliant job of it. He told me that he wanted to have hundreds of crazy moments in the film. I think he has pulled it off fantastically. I have a lot of hope on the film and that it will appeal to audiences. I cannot speak in terms of the box office, because I have enough experience that it is futile to think about that. I have an inkling that Mandala will be special when the time comes; maybe not right now, but it will be regarded as one of the better ones to have been tried in Kannada cinema. Hopefully, the film makes enough ‘noise’ that we can eventually make the second and third parts too.

Working with Anant Nag

I was working on Onthara Bannagalu, when the cinematographer Manohar told me about another project he was doing, called Mysore Masala, and that they were still on the lookout for a leading man. I was already sold on the idea of a film about UFOs and aliens, but then he also said that Anant Nag sir was a part of the film. It was a long-time dream for me to work with him. I have huge respect for him. I had seen Ganeshana Maduve and Gowri Ganesha and wanted to be the kid in those films; that’s how much I wanted to work with Anant sir. Here, I got that and we have an important chemistry in the film; it’s the two of us together against the world. It was hard for me to not say yes to this project.

Bengaluru – the hub of science

One thing that we are trying to highlight with the film is that Karnataka, especially Bengaluru, is like the hub of science with ISRO, IISC and every software and engineering giant worth its salt having a presence here. As such, the fact that sci-fi is not a booming genre in Kannada cinema is a little bit of an embarrassment. There is so much science embedded in the city, yet there is none in films. This can’t be because of a lack of audience. Mandala is an attempt to put the spotlight on this void.

Taking the theatrical route

At one point amid the pandemic, there was a thought whether to take Mandala: The UFO Incident directly to OTT, given the uncertainty in the industry. Moreover, if you look at it very practically, I am not a bankable star, and even though the film has Sharmiela Mandre, Prakash and Anant sir in it, we do not command audiences waiting to exclusively see us on screen. Maybe Anant sir and Prakash do, but that is also a niche audience. But then Ajay and the team felt that it would be injustice to the visuals and the story building in the film to not give it a big screen outing. Moreover, this is the first in a three-part series that they are trying to make. There is a road map that Ajay has in place for this ‘universe’.

Kiran Srinivas plays the lead in Mandala: The UFO story
Kiran Srinivas plays the lead in Mandala: The UFO story

Life in Mumbai

It’s been amazing. For the last four and half years I have been working with Star Sports as an anchor for the Kannada commentary for IPL and World Cups, among others. Besides that, I just finished the second season of Duranga for Goldie Behl, which will be back on Zee5. There are a couple of other web series that I am in talks for, and we are trying to figure out the timeline for me, because I am tied up till May-June.

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