Tharun Kishore Sudhir: My journey in Rangabhoomi has contributed to my growth as a director

In an extensive chat, post the release of Kaatera, Tharun Kishore Sudhir shares insights on his hattrick moment, his comprehension of cinema and collaborating with a star like Darshan
Tharun Kishore Sudhir: My journey in Rangabhoomi has contributed to my growth as a director

Director Tharun Kishore Sudhir’s latest film, Kaatera, starring Challenging Star Darshan, has become a bonafide blockbuster, entering the 100 crore club. In a heartfelt note, he expressed immense gratitude to fans, farmers, and the Kannada Film Industry, acknowledging their pivotal role in bringing this vision to life. He credited the unwavering support of trailblazers like actor Darshan, Rockline Venkatesh, and his team, emphasising their faith as the cornerstone of Kaatera’s success. Tharun highlighted the fans’ overwhelming love as the driving force, expressing deep emotion and appreciation for their unwavering support.

“The victory of Kaatera goes beyond words. We knew the film’s content would resonate well, but we faced our own challenges. The tremendous reception from people is overwhelming. They’ve embraced the film completely. I’ve spent three to four minutes reading lengthy messages, friends pouring their emotions out because they connected with it deeply. Everyone has their perspective on the film, mentioning it as a win for the Kannada film industry. It’s tied to myriad emotions. People are passionately championing the film. While Roberrt was appreciated as a hit, with Kaatera, they’re expressing gratitude and thanking me and Darshan for bringing this film to life.”

In an extensive chat, post-release, Tharun Kishore Sudhir shares insights on his hattrick moment, his comprehension of cinema, collaborating with a star like Darshan, multilingual versus Kannada projects, thoughts on box office collections, overseas release, and his upcoming endeavours...


How does Tharun define this moment as he celebrates a hat-trick of successes, from his debut, Chowka to a hit mass entertainer, Roberrt,  and now the blockbuster Kaatera?

Be it Chowka, Roberrt, or Kaatera, and even my films as a creative director, I approach each movie with immense respect and a sense of divinity. I’ve always believed there are more talented directors than me. To compete with them, my only path is to put in more work, striving to match their caliber. This mindset remains constant for every film, treating each one like my first. Cinema isn’t just my profession; it’s been a part of me since birth. I’ve experienced the highs and lows of this industry. As a director, one success leads to the next project, guiding my path forward. This devotion to my work as a filmmaker never wavers, nor do I take it for granted.

Coming from a film background, before becoming a director, he also played pivotal roles in various films. Did this journey aid his understanding of cinema?

Not significantly, but my journey in Rangabhoomi helped me immensely. My work in drama contributed to my growth as a director. As an actor, I had minimal learning except for some technical aspects. Acting mostly involved focusing ninety percent on the craft, rarely delving behind the camera. It was when I started collaborating with my friends Dinakar Thoogudeepa and Raghuram, contributing to storylines, and receiving appreciation, that my directorial thoughts began to spark. For me, my theater background is more significant than my acting career. Moreover, our theater was professional, encompassing commercial elements like songs and dialogues, eliciting instant audience reactions. I grasped their pulse, which drives my inclination towards being a commercial director, making films for a larger audience. I can’t create films for a silent audience; I target larger, mass audiences.

Darshan has headlined Chowka (2017), Roberrt (2021), and now Kaatera (2023). What helped you understand this star actor better?

My journey with Darshan began with his first film, Majestic, which significantly shaped my understanding. I’ve been alongside him from the start, witnessing his strengths and performances, and knowing what he’s capable of. When I stepped into directing, despite our friendly rapport off-set, the on-set dynamics were different. He becomes a thorough professional. I’m the director, and he’s the actor. However, having seen all 55 of his films and journeyed with him, I’ve comprehended what connects with audiences, and what they admire about him. It’s been a form of research. Similarly, my successful collaborations with Sharan stem from my journey with him. Likewise, with a star like Darshan, I have that added advantage.

Who forms your support system in churning out such visions?

Primarily, my strength, or perhaps my weakness, lies in enjoying handling all the work and overseeing everything personally. While I might have delegated tasks, I still willingly volunteered and cross-checked. However, I always prioritise my team’s suggestions, especially from individuals like cinematographer Sudhakar S Raj, editor K M Prakash, and Jadeshaa K Hampi regarding the story, among others. If they have any reservations, I make an effort to rework or at least convince them otherwise. That said, I’ve never allowed anyone to dominate the script. Fortunately, I have a team that adheres to it. Technicians discuss scenes beforehand, and even with Darshan, I inform him well in advance and value his input.

As a city person, how did you manage to immerse yourself in village life and craft a story like Kaatera, which is based on real-life incidents set in the 1970s?

I was born in Hosapete, but I was raised in Bengaluru. While travelling with my parents for theater, we often camped in villages for extended periods. Even when I had school, I lived a part of my life in the village. So, I have some familiarity with village life. However, for a subject like Kaatera, extensive research and homework were essential to comprehend the old Mysuru and its essence.

Do you believe that certain skills are required to work with a star?

No job is easy; you adapt and work accordingly, whether it’s with a star or a friend. This is our profession. Ultimately, people watch our work on screen and are unaware of what happens behind the scenes. Ego has no place here; what appears on screen, especially with a star, holds significance. Growing up with my father, an actor, I learned how to understand and handle actors. I treated Kumar Govind the same way Darshan was treated, as it was something insisted on by the latter. Creating a conducive atmosphere on set is crucial. Understanding and making actors comfortable is key; when you pamper your actors, they deliver their best.

Was a multilingual release considered for a film like Kaatera, or was Kannada the preferred wavelength for the actor, director, and producer?

I was comfortable with the idea, whether it was solely in Kannada or released in five languages; it made no difference to me. My focus was on telling a story, which I knew was my strength. Typically, a film starts in its original language and may later be dubbed and released in other languages. Juggling multiple languages while crafting a story of our land, isn’t feasible for me. When making Roberrt, I was set on a dual-language release and included elements connecting both languages. However, with Kaatera, the vision was solely for Kannada. Nonetheless, if producer Rockline Venkatesh or Darshan decides, the story could potentially reach other languages, but even if it doesn’t, it’s alright. People have always enjoyed films with subtitles, and dubbing has made it easier for audiences to watch in their preferred languages. My focus right now is to tell stories in my language, leveraging my strengths.

Kaatera is making a big splash abroad

This is a great step towards reaching a wider audience for Kannada cinema. We aim to expand our viewership, both locally in Karnataka and internationally, and releasing Kaatera abroad aligns with that objective.

What’s your perspective on box office collection?

Numbers primarily serve producers and have a limited impact elsewhere; they’re not transferable or up for discussion. Just like any product, each film holds its own value and brand. It’s disheartening that the celebration of cinema’s success often gets overshadowed by negativity. People cheer when box office numbers of films in other languages hit the 600 crore mark. So why not appreciate successful Kannada films in the same way?

What’s next for Tharun after a blockbuster?

I’m filled with excitement and curiosity about my next project. However, I’m currently fully engaged with Kaatera, striving to elevate it to new heights and reach different audiences. It holds tremendous potential and offers various avenues. Perhaps, I’ll take a short break later and delve into my scripts to make a decision. I have ongoing discussions for another collaboration with Darshan, but the timing of its realisation remains uncertain. Darshan has always been open and welcoming, not judging solely based on my success. We’ll see when it materialises and when we plan to move forward. I’m open to working with actors who fit the story.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Cinema Express