'As a filmmaker, I am a big risk-taker’

...says director Hemanth M Rao as he talks about his upcoming film, Sapta Sagaradaache Ello Side B, featuring Rakshit Shetty, Rukmini Vasanth, and Chaithra Achar
'As a filmmaker, I am a big risk-taker’

The reception of Hemanth M Rao’s Sapta Sagaradaache Ello Side A has established commendable standards for Side B, which is set to release this week. While the director is engrossed in last-minute preparations, he is unable to contain his palpable excitement, knowing that audiences are eagerly anticipating watching Side B. “The decision to present the narrative of SSE in two parts has served its purpose well. Our goal was to infuse a certain level of curiosity into a love story, approached in a distinctly unique manner—an experimental concept. I am glad that people got invested in the story and want to know where the story goes. Every filmmaker relies on instinct, and in this case, it has proven successful. It is a nice feeling,” remarks Hemanth, delving deep into the film, backed by Rakshit Shetty’s Paramvah Studios.

The choice to bifurcate the film into two segments was made post-production, leaving no room for reshoots, admits Hemanth, who reveals that the essence of the film remains true to its initial conception. While Side A, initially released in Kannada and later in Telugu and Hindi, didn’t capture a broad audience, the film’s OTT release in various languages got an overwhelming response. The romantic drama’s Side B is poised for a grander spectacle with its theatrical release in multiple languages. Can the audience grasp the journey of Side B without experiencing Side A? “SSE received acclaim in theaters and enjoyed an equally positive viewership on Prime Video. Viewers have messaged me, expressing that they’ve watched Side A on OTT and are eagerly awaiting Side B. Rakshit too has received numerous offers from various industries to release the film in their respective languages,” he reveals.

The film, chronicling the journey of Manu and Priya portrayed by Rakshit Shetty and Rukmini Vasanth, introduces the character of Surabhi, played by Chaithra Achar, as a noteworthy addition to the principal cast in Side B. Gopal Deshpande joins other actors, who will seamlessly transition from Side A to Side B. According to Hemanth, the narrative delves into themes of relationships and explores their evolution upon revisitation. “The film, treated with distinctive hues of Blue in Side A and Red in Side B, symbolises calmness and tumult, respectively. It’s a tale of the same characters, yet not entirely so, a nuance exemplified through the music where the lyrics remain consistent, but their treatment and melody undergo divergence,” says the director, who brings the film to a conclusion, with Side B while he contemplates a future amalgamation of both parts into a singular experimental film.

How did Hemanth approach Side B, characterised by heightened aggression? “I have adhered to the story, using it as a moral compass throughout the filmmaking process. A new approach was adopted for SSE A and B, aligning with the demands of the narrative,” he asserts.

What does he think about those who find Side A of SSE and his films, in general, slow-moving? “Audiences have the right to experience the film as they see fit, and I can’t change that. If they find it slow, they find it slow, and for those who think it’s at the right pace, they see it that way. My intention is not to test the audience’s patience. I take them and their patience seriously. What I want to make clear is that I don’t want to be just like any other filmmaker and make a fast film thinking it will work. I don’t want to follow a template because that’s not my identity. However, the audience can’t force me to become a certain kind of filmmaker. I want to build a specific relationship with them through my films. Regarding SSE, unlike Side A, Side B is not slow; it’s the opposite, and it’s fast. You can’t please everyone. It’s important to have filmmakers with different styles, and I like to present it in my way,” he says.

This is Hemanth’s second film with Rakshit Shetty after Godhi Banna Sadharna Mykattu, and the director believes that he can include Rakshit in every film if given the chance. Is Hemanth making a safe choice by having Rakshit Shetty, an actor and producer, who trusts in his creativity? “No. Basically, I am a big risk-taker. First, I don’t make films that others have already made. I like to experiment and choose people who can join me on the journey. I also consider the audience and their money. One year of my work has to make sense for two hours. Rakshit, more than being a producer, is a fantastic actor who loves cinema even more than I do. He will always be my first choice. Making this kind of film requires guts, and Rakshit was open to it. His sensibility greatly contributed to SSE,” he explains.

While he is glad to introduce new faces into his films, including actors, lyricists, and singers, which he believes adds value to the film, Hemanth regrets not being able to fit Anant Nag into any role in SSE. “I tried, but it would have felt forced if I wanted to include a role for Anant Nag sir. I thought about it for a few days, but nothing worked,” says Hemanth. He concludes with a message to the audience. “Many people have watched Side A in theaters and more on OTT. I want to tell them to come and watch Side B in theaters. Like every other filmmaker across the country, we also work towards making quality films, and SSE provides a great theatrical experience.” he signs off.

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