Salaar director Prashanth Neel revealed that all his idealism and passion for cinema were snuffed out while making his debut movie Ugramm.
Filmmaker Prashanth Neel has no qualms or reluctance in admitting that prioritizing financial success is the key focus in his career. In a candid revelation, he claimed that his passion for cinema takes a backseat while mounting a mega-budget production like Salaar and it purely becomes a job aimed at delivering a polished product with broad global appeal.
Prashanth revealed that all his idealism and passion for cinema were snuffed out during the early days of his directorial career under the weight of the crushing reality of life and the uncompromising nature of the box office business. "I had a lot of passion when I set out to make Ugramm," said Prashanth.
He aspired to elevate Ugramm to the standards of mainstream films in Tamil and Telugu, which boasted bigger budgets and superior quality compared to Kannada movies at that time. To bring his cinematic vision to life, Prashanth hired top technicians from across the country, with a desire to create one of the most visually impressive films in Kannada. "I didn't worry about Sriimurali's market or a new director's market, and I spent a lot of money," remarked the director.
Prashanth took on a lot of debts and sold his house to produce Ugramm under under his independent production banner, Inkfinite Pictures. However, things didn't go according to his plan. The project faced several setbacks. The production extended over four years, some crew members left midway due to the delays, and the director found himself in a lot of debt. Undeterred by these challenges, Prashanth persisted, even resorting to reshoots in a quest to deliver the best possible film. However, upon completion, he encountered a harsh reality—none of the distributors were willing to take his movie.
"I did that film for Kannada cinema. It's not as if others would not have done it. But, it was like wearing your heart on your sleeve. And no distributor took it," lamented the KGF director, recalling the painful experience.
At that time, Kannada superstar Darshan and his brother Dinakar showed faith in Prashanth and released Ugramm in cinemas through their company Thoogudeepa Distributors. Ugramm made its theatrical debut on February 21, 2014, and the rest, as they say, is history.
However, this bitter experience changed Prashanth's outlook on cinema, revealing certain harsh realities of the industry. "From that day onward I decided I have to do whatever it takes to make my family happy. I have made 10 houses like that today. But, that entire four years I was in debt. Vijay Kirgandur and Yash bailed me out. Now, where is the question of passion in all of this? There is no passion when it comes to cinema for me. It's business for me. And in that business I do my best to entertain," explained Prashanth.
After the success of his second directorial venture, KGF: Chapter 1, Prashanth became a formidable figure, solidifying his position with KGF: Chapter 2, which grossed over Rs 1200 crore in worldwide ticket sales. "I am who I am today because of the Kannada film industry, but the Kannada film industry is not here today because of me," he remarked, adding, "Passion died a long time back."
Prashanth is now waiting for the release of Salaar, which is based on his debut movie Ugramm. The film stars Prabhas and Prithviraj Sukumaran in the lead roles and is due in cinemas on December 22.