Preetham Gubbi: I always knew that my film would be compared to 96
The director talks about his upcoming romantic drama, starring Ganesh and Bhavana
Little did Preetham Gubbi know that he would be helming the Kannada version of the blockbuster hit 96. Titled 99, the film is scheduled for release in Kannada on May 1. Ahead of its release, Preetham reminisces about the journey from start to finish.
Preetham says that the first person he called up after watching 96 was Ganesh. “He was out of the country when I told him about 96. When I mentioned that somebody would remake the film, and he would be one of the choices, he said he would accept it readily. Around the same time, I met producer Ramu, who said he had bought the film’s rights and suggested that if Ganesh was interested, I could go ahead with him the project. Probably, taking up the film was a destiny,” says Preetham.
While he was inspired by 96, 99 is his own take on the original. “Shooting 99 was like shooting a new film. We took the soul of the plot and created our own music and ambience to suit our native sensibilities,” says the director.
99 wouldn’t have been possible without a perfect cast, and Preetham feels blessed to have roped in fine actors. He goes on to add that Ganesh's fan base have missed seeing him playing subtle roles. “Since it had been a while that Ganesh was seen in such a role, I tweaked his character to suit the requirements."
Preetham says that Ganesh's pair, Bhavana, brought grace and dignity to the film. “99 only has about five artistes who have to entertain the audience for nearly two and a half hours. It was an interesting task. Both of them, along with Hemanth and Shamikshaa, raised the bar and inturn, boosted my confidence."
On the film's music, he says,"Arjun Janya has done a fabulous job for his 100th film. In fact, one of the tracks has been created using a symphony orchestra from Budapest." He adds thtat Santhosh Rai Pathaje, the film's cinematographer has brought in the best picturisation possible.
He points out what his biggest challenge was. "I was clear about one thing—that the film would always be compared to the original which had won hearts. Bringing in a sense of freshness in terms of presentation was our challenge."
What extra care did he take to ensure the success of 99? “Every aspect of filmmaking counts. Even though you put in the same effort for every movie, some films do well, others don’t. Here, we can’t blame the audience. You should think that something is missing from our end. Through 99, we have tried to make a good package to ensure nothing is missing,” he says.
A universal subject, 99, the director believes, is not a film, but a glimpse into life. “It’s about school days and first love, which everyone can connect with,” says Preetham, who leaves us with one last remark, “I’m hoping the audience give me 100 on 100 in this exam.”