I watched Rajaratha 5,000 times and was never bored: Anup Bhandari
The director who spent many a sleepless night working on the film talks about his final product
Anup Bhandari’s directorial debut Rangitaranga is talked about even today. The filmmaker is currently focussed on his second project Rajaratha, a film that will give him a wider exposure with its Kannada and Telugu versions.
Apart from Nirup Bhandari, Avantika Shetty and Ravi Shankar, the cast of the film includes top stars such as Puneeth Rajkumar, Rana Daggubati and Arya. The director says, "Thanks to Rangitaraga, I just had to make a two-minute phone call to explain why I needed them to be a part of Rajaratha and they all came on board immediately."
Anup admits that he put twice as much effort into Rajaratha, when compared to his debut. "Rangitaranga had budget constraints and I had to complete work on it in 40 days. Even otherwise, I like completing my work quickly, and my experience with my first film helped me organise things better for Rajaratha. I was able to complete the shoot in 80 days. Unplanned, it would have taken 120 days. The extra effort was needed because it was made in two languages," says the director.
He adds that he may have set a record in going sleepless for nights together, during post-production. "There were days when I would start with my edit job, then go to the dubbing studio, follow that up with working on the background score with music director, Ajaneesh Loknath, and then get on to song mixing. I made frequent trips to Hyderabad as well. I did all of this for 20 days at least. And over the last week, for four days, I only slept for about half-an-hour on the flight, with a brief nap in Chennai. That’s how much Rajaratha has taken out of me.”
Anup agrees that two years between his first and second films is indeed a long time. But there were reasons, he says. "Rajaratha was started a long while after Rangitaranga. I also wanted to shift my family back to India and that took time as well. There was a clash in dates of artistes and demonetisation took a toll as well. There was the weather too. A part of the shoot had to be done in the rainy season and I had to wait for the next season, and all of that was done to maintain continuity," he says.
Does it help for a director to be involved in so many departments? "I do it because I want to be a part of it, and it is my film. Yes, it is an unconventional approach, but it is more a collaborative process this way. Secondly, technicians love my company. In fact, Ajaneesh has always ensured that I am by his side while he is working on my film," he tells us.
Anup's heart lies in mass entertainment, but he has attempted to give the film a 'class' appeal. "I have grown up watching Kannada and Hindi cinema. So there is a desi sensibility in the heart of my storytelling. My approach to filmmaking has been influenced also by the world cinema I have watched. I follow their camera moments and editing pattern. So the look and feel of the film will be neat and clean," he says.
"Having said that, while my approach worked seamlessly in Rangitaranga, in Rajaratha the styling had to be different. I believe that the camera is meant to tell a story and not just to capture moments. It needs focus, and there was a lot of scope for that in Rajaratha."
Interestingly, Anup tells us he has watched Rajaratha at least 5,000 times, and was never once bored. "Having felt the need to put my bit into every department, I had to sit at least a 100 times with each technician. This apart, I myself watched it many times at the edit desk. But I never was bored and I hope the audience feels the same way too," he says.