'I'm happy KISS is releasing alongside Geetha'
...says director AP Arjun, who is also venturing into production with the film, which stars debutant actors Viraat and Sreeleela
KISS writer-director AP Arjun has an interesting story about how the project originated. “The journey of KISS began over a cup of coffee at the Chandra Layout Cafe Coffee Day (Bengaluru).” The wall space in the cafe, filled with quotes about kisses, caught the director's attention, and he began penning a romantic story, which was later titled KISS. “The thread that I pulled from there will now be presented as a film on September 27,” Arjun tells Cinema Express.
Excerpts from an interview with the filmmaker:
‘My break helped me analyse my life and career’
It has been four years since Arjun's last release, Airavatha (2015), and the filmmaker believes this break helped him analyse a lot of things, including his life and career. “I thought about the kind of films I should be making, especially when it comes to working with newcomers. Even before I started shooting for KISS, I worked on how the film should be presented on the big screen. I thought about the visual treatment before I went on the sets,” he says, adding, “Secondly, working with a star comes with its challenges, while working with newcomers tests your capabilities. This was the case when I did Ambari, starring Yogi, and Addhuri, which marked the debut of Dhruva Sarja. Now it is KISS, which stars Viraat and Sreeleeela.”
KISS took Arjun back to college life
Arjun, who did the rounds of various colleges to absorb the lifestyle and behaviour of today's generation, believes all young people can relate to the characters in KISS. “I was keen to know what kind of clothes girls wear today, the kind of interaction they have with their friends, etc. However, for the female lead character, I was inspired by a girl in my college. She lead this gang of girls and always stood out, and I moulded Sreeleela’s character after her,” says the director, adding that he will reveal the girl’s name only after the film’s release.
The joy of working with newcomers
The director, who also writes his films, admits that his romance stories usually demand fresh faces. “With newcomers, I don’t have any kind of time restrictions, and it also helps me mould the actors according to my thoughts and vision. For KISS, it took me one-and-a-half years to prepare the fresh talents, and it was only after this that we decided to go on floors. It started from scratch — preparing their look, hairstyle, body language, dialogue delivery — and in a way, KISS taught me how rehearsals can help newcomers emote better. It will be worth your effort to work with newcomers, provided you are prepared to give time,” he says.
‘I developed writing skills in school’
Arjun is one of the few directors who shoulder a lot of responsibilities for a film. Apart from directing KISS, he has also written its story, screenplay, dialogues, and the lyrics of all the songs. “The story becomes the sapling, which eventually grows into a tree with various branches. Thankfully, the art of writing was something that I developed during my schooldays; I was always excited to have my poems published in the school magazine,” he says. Arjun majored in Kannada in college, and he believes this helped him understand the craft of writing better. “I have always maintained a pattern. I begin with writing the story, screenplay, and dialogues. The lyrics are written once I go on the sets and start shooting the film. Handling all this also helps me judge things better at the edit desk,” he explains.
Turning producer and fulfilling his dream 100 per cent
With KISS, Arjun has also turned producer, a development he calls unexpected but a good one. “Certain films require the director to take charge as a producer too. You are then not answerable to anybody. Secondly, I can make and promote the film the way I want to. When a director turns producer, he becomes the decision-maker and gets involved in all the aspects of the product. This way, the director’s vision and dream can be fulfilled completely,” he says.
‘I don’t mind my film getting released with other Kannada films’
Arjun is releasing his film alongside the Ganesh-starrer Geetha, and he is happy that his competition is with a Kannada film and not one from any other language. “Every week, we easily have space for the release of three films, and it is always good to have Kannada films hitting the theatres instead of movies in other languages. We will be happy to see that everybody is watching a Kannada film,” he says.