Behind the scenes of Suri’s Popcorn Monkey Tiger; Suri introduces new technical crew to Kannada
Popcorn Monkey Tiger's writer Amritha K Bhargav, art director Malla, and cinematographer Shekar talk about their experience
One look at director Suri’s body of work and you can tell the director has a propensity for experimental and unconventional attempts. His latest is another such, and through Popcorn Monkey Tiger, he also introduces a new technical crew. This includes one of the youngest talents in Kannada cinema — Amritha K Bhargav, who has teamed up with Suri as a writer and has also written the screenplay of the film.
Popcorn Monkey Tiger is based on the underworld and is set against a family backdrop. The art department is being handled by Malla, who has worked with Suri since his Duniya days.
Shekar S, (DFD) who has previously worked with the director in Kendasampige and Tagaru, is taking the responsibility of cinematography. The film marks the debut of producer Sudhir KM, and has Charan Raj scoring the music.
Ahead of Popcorn Monkey Tiger's release on February 21, Cinema Express talks to the budding talents — the writer, art director, and cinematographer — who share their experience of working on the film.
'Suri is a good mentor': Amritha Bhargav, writer
Amritha K Bhargav, who likes to be called Amri, always had a penchant for writing. Wanting to start her journey in filmmaking, especially direction, she landed at Suri’s office. “I knew his body of work and was also aware that he is quite famous. I popped into his office, asking for a job. He did not give me work right away. But, I did not lose hope. After three years of unfailing attempts, he realised I was serious and really keen to work with him. He enquired about me, and then told me, ‘Ooru sutkondu barbeku’. He wanted me to go out and observe the surroundings, as it will help me understand the world better. I did just that, and it did reveal the world better to me and helped me in penning my thoughts,” explains Amritha Bhargav, adding, “Later, Suri met my father before he thought of taking me on board as an associate with him.”
About why she was particularly keen to work with Suri, Amritha says, “There are a few directors who hire around 10 assistants, ask them to refer to Korean films and take content from there. But Suri doesn’t work that way. That’s one of the reasons, I wanted to work with him, as it will help me learn. He also told me the experience that he faced while doing Duniya, and why he asked me to go around and observe ‘life’ before starting the job,” she says.
“The first day of the shoot was a bar sequence, and he gave the script to me. I gave my ideas and penned a few lines and dialogues on the spot, which matched these thoughts, and eventually, he developed faith in my work. That’s how my journey started,” says Amritha, who apart from her role as a screenplay writer for Popcorn Monkey Tiger, has also taken the responsibility of designing the costumes for the film.
Amritha plans to direct a film soon and is getting prepared for this. “I am in the process of writing the stories. I hope to take my career forward under Suri’s guidance. I consider him one of the most disciplined directors I have come across.”
'Suri has chosen original locations for Popcorn Monkey Tiger': Art director Malla
Art director Malla has worked with Suri since the time the director did Duniya. So he know's the director’s preference and what he expects from the art department. Malla has previously worked with art directors Shashidhar Adapa and Suresh Bhaganavara, and Popcorn Monkey Tiger will be his first individual project.
“Suri is a director who mostly plans everything on the spot and has no pre-set notions. The job would start right at the time when he would discuss the scene and the backdrop, when we would go hunting for the properties in and around the shooting area,” says the art director, adding that for Popcorn Monkey Tiger, Suri has mostly chosen original locations like the market, houses, and natural surroundings. “Suri, aside from being a director, is a painter and artist too. Even a regular house will get a whole new look with his artistic sensibilities,” says Malla.
'Popcorn Monkey Tiger demanded a lively presentation': Shekar
Cinematographer Shekar’s association with Suri began as an associate cameraman on Kendasampige, and Popcorn Monkey Tiger will be his first film as the DOP. “I had worked in a channel for a reality show, and actor Rajesh Nataranga introduced me to Suri during Kendasampige. That’s when I started my journey with the filmmaker. I always had an interest in handling the camera, and Suri had seen my body of work — corporate videos, ad films, and video albums — and took me under his wing. He liked my framing, which he saw in his last film, Tagaru, and decided to put me in charge of handling the cinematography of Popcorn Monkey Tiger,” says Shekar.
“Whether as an associate director or cameraman, I have understood that Suri never has a regular pattern in filmmaking, and that has helped me in picturisation too,” he adds.
Popcorn Monkey Tiger, which is a crime story is also a family subject, and Shekar says he has tried to reach Suri’s expectations. “Since I knew his sense of frames, it helped me match his thought. I never considered it a difficult job, since I knew the director’s style of making. Popcorn Monkey Tiger’s script demanded a lively presentation. Suri’s was particular that the texture and mood should go with the time, and accordingly, the picturisation was done,” he says.