'An element of my life will be seen in my writing and direction'
says director V Priya, and talks about why she decided to make her debut in Kannada with Aadi Lakshmi
Purana, starring Radhika Pandit and Nirup Bhandari
Director V Priya, who has made her mark in the Tamil film industry, feels getting back to the director’s chair after a hiatus to make her debut in Kannada (Aadi Lakshmi Purana) is almost like a restart. “My last outing in Tamil was in 2007. After that, I had to shift my focus to my family. So, when I wanted to come back to helm a project, I wanted to try out something in other languages. It was cinematographer Preetha Jayaram, my first connection to Bengaluru, Kannada and Karnataka, who suggested the move to me. She mentioned that there is a wave of young directors doing good films in Kannada and that I should try out here,” recalls Priya, whose film, made under Rockline Productions banner, will be released this week.
The director says Aadi Lakshmi Purana is a universal subject and could have been made in any language, including English. However, the lead actors — Radhika Pandit and Nirup Bhandari — caught her attention and gave her another reason to make the film in Kannada. “The story of Aadi Lakshmi... is about a girl who has complexes, and about a guy who wants to be perfect in everything he does. It is also about this typical Indian mother and father,” she says.
When Priya was looking for the actor who can play Lakshmi, she came across a few clips of Radhika. “I like the way she underplays characters so beautifully. I fell in love with her and was happy to find somebody who is close to the character I had in mind. As for Nirup Bhandari, I had watched him in Rangitaranga, and thought he had controlled performance. When you write a character, actors certainly also bring in their own elements into the film, and both Radhika and Nirup have met my expectations. The presence of Tara and Suchendra Prasad will also be the highlight,” she says.
Aadi Lakshmi is a family entertainer with the issue of drugs forming the backdrop. “At some point, it talks about a social issue. This is explored in a simple way in normal romcoms too. I have observed drugs to be a major issue currently, and I thought it was relevant enough to be highlighted in the film,” she says.
Priya’s inspiration to be a director was Suhasini, who is also said to be her driving force. “I always have been interested in writing. In fact, I wanted to act. However, instead of growing taller, I grew broader,” the director chuckles, adding that she even tried an acting stint in a Tamil serial. She then grew enthusiastic about Suhasini’s direction and writing. “Suddenly, my focus changed, and she became my inspiration. She even took me on as an assistant, and later put me in touch with Mani (director Mani Ratnam) sir. From there on, there was no looking back,” says Priya.
The story of Aadi Lakshmi... was stemmed from her own experience, which she faced during her late 20s. “Actually, I think, whatever affects you will automatically come into your picture, or in your writing. The 2001 film Mitr, My friend, directed by Revathi, which won the National Award, was my story. It was something I saw in my family. The first draft of Aadi Lakshmi... came about during a crisis that happened when I was in my late 20s about the way I look. An element of me will always be there in my writing, and my films. Nowadays, I am writing a lot about dreams,” Priya reveals.
Settling down in a new industry required a lot of homework for her before she could actually start the shooting. Priya also mentions that she couldn’t have asked for a better support than producer Rockline Venkatesh. “He liked everything planned, prepared, and wanted to be written down on paper. The producer provided everything but never interfered. He also has a great sense of storyline. Being a great actor himself, Venkatesh could judge the script,” says Priya, who got the help of Prashanth Rajappa for dialogues, while music director Anup Bhandari also gave inputs. “Preetha might be credited as the cinematographer in the film, but she has evolved at every stage of Aadi Lakshmi Purana,” she says.