Director KM Chaitanya says that Vinod Prabhakar’s attempts to reinvent himself as an actor and not just an action star is commendable
On February 6, Kannada filmmaker KM Chaitanya announced his 10th directorial, yet another underworld tale, with Vinnod Prabhakar in the lead. Called Balaramana Dinagalu, this film, incidentally, is a milestone project for the actor as well, marking his 25th as a leading man. OTTplay caught up with Chaitanya for a quick discussion about the film, which will go on floors shortly.
“Balaramana Dinagalu is a gangster story set in the 90s. This is my return to the genre since my debut film Aa Dinagalu. I have a bunch of underworld stories ready to be brought to the screen. These are all stories that I developed during the pandemic, because I had nothing else to do and read a lot of books by Agni Sridhar, Ravi Belagere, etc. I have at least three other stories based on real-life crimes, which will make very good movies. In fact, two of them are already written, while Balaramana Dinagalu is still a work in progress. I had given a basic story structure narration to the producer and he felt that Balarama will work well for Vinnod. I also think that he will be perfect for the role,” says the filmmaker.
Chaitanya adds that his decision to have Vinnod in the lead is not just based on the fact that the actor can carry off an underworld character with his looks, body language and action prowess. “Off late, Vinnod has been trying to reinvent himself. He has made films like Maadeva and Nelson and you can see the hunger in him to do more content-based movies in which his acting is seen. He was concentrating only on action in all these years and he wants to come out as an actor. I saw the same drive in the late Chiranjeevi Sarja, when we were doing Aatagara. It looks very promising how Vinnod is working on his acting. Of course, the script is also very dense with a lot of interesting characters.
Any film set in the past is a great tool to comment on the present. Balaramana Dinagalu is based on real-life characters, but the story is fictional. “I am not claiming that this is about the rowdy Balarama. Essentially, the period of 1990 to 1995 are the most crucial years in the history of the world; it changed the entire world. Back then, the USSR fell, and America became the only superpower. In India, the liberalisation came in and that transformed the landscape. Bengaluru saw the biggest boom. It was back then that I heard about real estate for the first time. Land value had suddenly picked up and as a result, crimes around such property also spiked. Anytime there is prosperity in something there is also a dark underbelly to it. Land mafia was born around that time,” Chaitanya elaborates about the period setting of his film.
It was around this time that Bengaluru had this rowdy who hailed from a village and began dominating the city. “Dons like MP Jayaraj and Kothwal, who were already in Bengaluru, couldn’t figure him out, because he was becoming more deadly and dangerous. For him, the whole thing was new, while the others were set in their ways about what can be done and what could not. Balarama was free-wheeling and would not listen to the big dons, to the point that they were scared of him. Here was a man who was not bothered about making headlines or scaring the general public; he wanted the dons to fear him. He had a meteoric rise and then disappeared. This is that story,” adds Chaitanya.