Cinema reflects reality: Dhananjay
The actor-producer talks about his new release Head Bush, his role as underworld don MP Jayaraj and why the film is different from the regular gangster story
Dhananjay has come a long way since his debut with the short film, Jayanagar 4th block. As someone who has seen his fair share of struggles before his breakthrough, he enjoys taking risks with roles and films. He is happy in the space he is currently in and eagerly looking forward to his festival release Head Bush, which also has him doubling as a producer.
“My previous struggles have only helped me to get stronger. The lessons learned from every film have helped me to get here. Today, I’m in a position to make confident decisions in my career. However, at this moment, I am unclear on where I stand. I’ve learned a lot, and have got more to learn, and more films to do,” says Dhananjay on the sidelines of the release on October 21.
Dhananjay’s role in Suri’s Tagaru was a turning point in his career, and it brought opportunities to work in different languages. He believes his anti-hero role as underworld don, MP Jayaraj will be received warmly like his Daali from Tagaru. “After Tagaru, I took up different roles in Rathnan Prapancha and Badava Rascal. However, I was looking to get back to grey-shade roles like Daali or Tiger Seena in Popcorn Monkey Tiger, and MP Jayaraj in Head Bush felt like a tailor-made character for me,” says Dhananjay.
He shared that cinema is both a passion and a business to him.” I will play any kind of role that will connect to the audience, as well as get the box office numbers ticking.” Head Bush, directed by Shoonya will be his second film as producer after Badava Rascal and his first big-budget film. Asked if it was an accident, he says,” Certain scripts push us to take more responsibilities, and Head Bush was one subject I didn’t want to miss out on, so I decided to take it on my shoulders, and produce the film under the banner Daali Pictures and in association with Somanna Talkies,” says Dhananjay, adding, the film, which began on a small scale, but has turned out to be big budget film, with an investment of approximately ` 25 crores.
Interestingly, the film distributed by Zee Studios has already reached the safe zone. The film fetched `22 crores even before release with its satellite and digital rights. The role of MP Jayaraj was initially offered to Shivarajkumar and later there were speculations that Upendra will be playing a similar character. But Dhananjay was destined to play it. “I’m not aware of Shivanna and Upendra being considered for the role. It was director Shoonya and Roshan Bachchan, from Agni Sreedhar’s team who called me for the offer. It is Agni’s writing, and his previous works in Aa Dinagalu, and Edegarike that gave me the confidence to invest so much in Head Bush,” says Dhananjay, who adds that Agni Sreedhar never limited himself to writing, and got him involved in the process of filmmaking.
Questioned if the period crime drama will be relevant to the audience, he says, “Cinema reflects life, and our film aligns with it. Though it is a story of the past, it is an untold story. The face-off between the police and gangsters has always created curiosity among the audience,” he explains.
Dhananjay feels that the inherent politics in Head Bush and the dialogues will be the major attraction in the film. “It is not a regular gangster story. Agni Sreedhar had closely seen the underworld, and his book - My Days in the Underworld - speaks volumes about those empires. His stories are rich in philosophy and entertainment,” he says.
Head Bush has music by Charan Raj and artwork by Badal Nanjundaswamy. It stars Payal Rajput, Sruthi Hariharan,Yogi, Ravichandran, Devaraj, Vasishta Simha, Raghu Mukherjee, Balu Nagendra, and Poornachandra Mysuru, in important roles.
“This project wouldn’t have been possible without their support. The film brings together interesting actors, who have aced their roles. Head Bush will be a good start for debutant Shoonya and the team. I am sure they will be noticed for their work,” he signs off.