Ugramm: A decade of cinematic marvel

In an exclusive conversation with CE, both director Prashanth Neel and actor Sriimurali fondly reminisce about the cherished memories from their time working on Ugramm and much more
Ugramm: A decade of cinematic marvel

Celebrating its 10th year today (February 21), Prashanth Neel's Ugramm, starring Sriimurali, stands as a classic in Kannada cinema. Upon its release, the film swiftly attained cult status, catapulting its director into the limelight, who has today become a prominent director in the Indian film industry. For Sriimurali, Ugramm marked a significant resurgence in his career, breathing new life into his acting journey. Alongside Sriimurali, the film also starred Hariprriya in one of her most notable roles, while introducing audiences to music director Ravi Basrur and cinematographer Bhuvan Gowda. In an exclusive conversation with CE, both director Prashanth Neel and actor Sriimurali fondly reminisce about the cherished memories from their time working on Ugramm and much more.

Ugramm taught the importance of marketing a good film: Prashanth Neel

The journey of Ugramm was a testament to time, with director Prashanth Neel reflecting on his debut project as an identification. He is proud that even after a decade, people still address him as the Ugramm director. “When I entered the industry, I aimed not for personal recognition but to bring impactful films to the forefront—like Ugramm, KGF, and Salaar.”

Reflecting on the film’s legacy, Prashanth Neel acknowledges the lessons it imparted. “It has been more than 10 years since Ugramm’s release, it’s the 4 years preceding its release that impacted me the most. Ugramm taught me invaluable lessons about cinema— the first one being it’s not just about crafting a quality product but it also about effectively marketing it,” says Prashanth as he candidly shares about the hardships he and the team endured during the film’s production, highlighting the crucial role of trust and collaboration in the filmmaking process. “The struggles I faced with Ugramm taught me invaluable life lessons and underscored the significance of forging genuine connections within the industry.” The director reiterates the importance of broadening his film’s reach beyond just making one. “Producing Ugramm, I may have lacked expertise in this aspect initially, but it’s a lesson I’ve taken to heart. I will never be a producer again, as I lack strength in marketing my film."

For Prashanth, Ugramm reshaped his perspective on filmmaking, teaching him the importance of diverse skill sets and adapting to unforeseen challenges. “The film made me realise that cinema is a dynamic storytelling medium,” he explains, “Despite facing numerous hurdles and uncertainties, we managed to create a film that resonates with audiences, even a decade later. It’s a humbling achievement.”

Regarding the persistent speculation about future collaborations between Prashanth Neel and Sriimurali, he remains open-minded. “I enjoy collaborating with various actors, irrespective of which industry they belong,” he remarks, adding, "As I have told time and again, I’ve committed to KGF 3 with Yash and another project with Sriimurali. Though I can’t provide a definitive timeline due to my current commitments, I will fulfil it.” Though Prashanth did not speak much about his next, he is currently busy with Salaar 2 and has a project with Jr. NTR.

Ugramm was not just a film, it was a pivotal moment in my career: Sriimurali

Sriimurali proudly acknowledges that Ugramm was a rejuvenation for him as an actor, and describes it as a transformative experience, “Ugramm was not just a film; it was a resurgence, a pivotal moment in my career. Ugramm reignited my connection with the audience, which has sustained my career for years to come.” Following Ugramm, he embarked on projects like Rathaavara and Mufti, both warmly embraced by viewers, alongside Bharaate and Madagaja, which garnered moderate success. Since Ugramm, there hasn’t been a step backwards in his journey; it instilled in him the confidence to strive for excellence. Collaborating with director Prashanth Neel and a talented ensemble has been a gratifying experience, evoking memories of the dedication poured into Ugramm.

Reflecting on his journey from Ugramm to the present, Sriimurali points out the increasing expectations placed upon him. He candidly acknowledges the challenge of maintaining stardom after a film’s success. “The burden of expectations escalates with every hit, a pressure I willingly embrace. While success opens doors, it also intensifies scrutiny.” A decade later, with Bagheera set for release, the anticipation only grew.  Addressing comparisons between Ugramm and Salaar, directed by Prashanth Neel,  Sriimurali asserts, “Ugramm is special and holds its own significance to me, and I refrain from drawing comparisons. People have voiced their opinions, and I respect that. As an actor and Prashanth’s brother-in-law, my wish is for his continued success, knowing he consistently raises the bar in his craft.”
Regarding speculation surrounding a potential collaboration between him and Prashanth Neel for Ugramm-Veeram, which has been in the news for the longest time, Sriimurali remains optimistic. “The anticipation is palpable, but whether it’s Ugramm-Veeram or something beyond, our collaboration will happen, and our commitment will manifest in due time, though the timeline remains uncertain.”

As Sriimurali nears the completion of filming for Bhageera, produced by Hombale Films, he eagerly awaits to begin his next project with director Halesh for Paraak, currently in the pre-production phase.

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