Parameshwar Gundkal: I don't look at the film industry as a cash cow

Parameshwar Gundkal talks about his first directorial venture, Kotee, starring Dhananjay, reflecting on his journey from a farmer to a journalist achieving success on the small screen, and more
Parameshwar Gundkal: I don't look at the film industry as a cash cow

Parameshwar Gundkal, popularly called Param, is known for dabbling in various departments in the world of television. The filmmaker is now all set to make his debut on the silver screen as he gears up for the release of his upcoming directorial, Kotee. The face of the film is none other than Dhananjay, popularly called 'Nata Rakshasa', who is set to feature alongside a star cast. The film, which marks the maiden Kannada production of Jio Studios will feature music by Vasuki Vaibhav, background score by Nobin Paul and cinematography by Arun Brahma.

Speaking about his attraction towards cinema and the film industry, Param shares that it is his passion towards storytelling that has brought him here. "I don't look at the film industry as a cash cow. Money was never the driving force behind my foray into this medium. It's all about storytelling for me," he says, as he goes back to reminisce his days as a farmer and then a journalist. "I've spent years tilling the land, letting stories sprout alongside crops. But life had other plans, nudging me towards journalism in Bengaluru. That's when the idea struck me: why not paint these tales on a bigger canvas? TV seemed like a stepping stone to the cinema industry. However, I did not expect to find success through serials but they became stories that caught the attention of households across Karnataka." Further, on switching gears and foraying into Cinema, he adds, "TV demands quantity while storytelling on the silver screen requires quality. So, here I am to be part of cinema."

As a first-time filmmaker, Param has a profound knowledge of the art of filmmaking. "Filmmaking is like a finely tuned instrument, that requires a balance of emotions and storytelling. It's about orchestrating every scene, every moment, to create a universe that makes audiences sit through the runtime. I think of it like being a complex engineer. And let me tell you, it's been quite the journey. I thrive on being a keen listener, soaking in the details of every tale. There's a certain magic in listening, a joy in the art of understanding, and cinema has truly opened my ears to that."

Coming to Kotee, the titular character played by Dhananjay, Param has drawn from his own experiences to craft the character, making him a reflection of his personality. "Every writer balances fact and fiction," Param muses, explaining the interplay between reality and imagination that forms the basis of his storytelling. "With Kotee, I sought to craft a protagonist steeped in authenticity, drawing upon my experiences and introspections. I kept searching for a character, only to realise it is me who I know best," says Param.

Despite its lavish production values, Kotee is billed to be a commercial entertainer which remains rooted in the aspirations of the common man, portraying dreams that often seem unattainable. "The production of Kotee was a planned endeavour, spanning eighty-five days of filming. The importance of investment is not only in monetary terms but also in the dedication of time and effort. I view cinema as a complex medium, humbled by its creative possibilities and the challenges it presents," he says.

Param describes Moksha Kushal's character, named Navami as, "a foil to the protagonist." He adds, "Navami is a Chartered Accountant who often approaches Kotee as he is a cab driver. Her character represents a contrast to the hero," says Param, who also lauds the performances of the cast, especially actor Dhananjay, and recognizes their ability to elevate the narrative. "Story-wise, the outcome might be debatable. But performance-wise, every actor part of the film, from Dhananjay and Rangayana Raghu to Tara, among others, has set the bar too high. It will be a treat to watch their performance on screen," reveals Param.

Param says that the title Kotee, which translates to a crore, represents the emotional significance of money stressing that it's not merely about financial wealth but the deeper human experiences. "Kotee connects with the urban youth, offering a reflection of their dreams and aspirations. Through the titular character, audiences will find a relatable figure whose struggles mirror their own," he says.

Reflecting on the filmmaking process, Param likens it to a daily marriage fraught with ego and logistical challenges. "The process of filmmaking is tricky. I have brought my experience working in the Kannada reality show Bigg Boss and a big event like the Anubhava Awards to filmmaking. However, as a storyteller, cinema is a complex medium. Creative possibilities are unlimited. If anything, I have become less arrogant after making this film," he says.

As a newcomer to the industry, Param approaches Kannada cinema with humility, prioritising storytelling over commercial success. "I seek to earn the appreciation of crores of people through my craft and remain true to my vision. I want to share the story of Kotee with every Kannada-speaking audience," he signs off.

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