Growing up, Krishna wanted to try something off the beaten track. “I enjoy photography as I have a penchant for wildlife and sports,” he says. In the middle of a conversation, he reveals how he applied for a job at National Geographic and Discovery, but never heard from them. “Maybe, it was destined that I pursue a career in films,” he smiles.
Krishna says nothing satisfies him more than viewing his subject through lenses. “Though I am more passionate about cinematography, for Pailwaan, I had my assistant compose the shots as I thought it was difficult to balance both filmmaking and cinematography.” Since the film had a lot of action scenes, Krishna says he didn’t want to take more stress. “As a cinematographer, you are required to worry about the angles and how to capture them. I believe that doing one job well is more than enough.”
Krishna is happy with the response to Pailwaan that released last week. Ask him was there any pressure to handle a star like Kichcha Sudeep, he grins, “My intention was to add a bit of social awareness, along with entertainment. That way, when the audience watches the film, they are entertained as well as some thought is put into their mind.”
Talking about the research he put in, Krishna says, “There are many traditional wrestling villages in and around mid and north Karnataka. We met wrestlers, learned about their working style and went ahead with what visually-appealed for the film.”
The director says it was a conscious decision to infuse two sports into one script. “That was the story arc. Sudeep plays the role of a wrestler and boxer. Had I showed my lead character as a champion in a single sport, it would have been predictable. So, I had to design Kichcha’s character accordingly, retaining the underdog element—how this guy loses spirit and bounces back in life,” Krishna explains.
But why a sports film? “It’s a safe bet because everyone already knows the climax. The hero is going to win and the audience, naturally, doesn’t expect anything beyond. You tell a story and if it’s a good one, it will work.”
Krishna acknowledges all sports films are the same. “Even if people compare Pailwaan with Sultan or Dangal, it’s a positive one. Once we finished the script, we knew where Pailwaan stood,” tells Krishna.
The screenplay of Pailwaan was written by Madhu, Kannan and Krishna himself. “Madhu, Kannan and I headed three different teams. First, I wrote my draft, met Madhu and made some corrections. Next, I met Kannan and did the same. After that we three sat together and discussed every aspect of the story. Our focus was to make the film as engaging as we can. In fact, we worked on the screenplay for almost four months,” shares Krishna.
Before shooting, Krishna had a story reading session of Pailwaan with a team and gauged their reactions. “It’s always better to sit and discuss ideas. This helps me understand where I went wrong and what can be changed in the script. We tell the story with no exaggeration, and expect honest feedback and the reason behind someone’s criticism,” says Krishna.
Had Sudeep not agreed to do Pailwaan, Krishna says he would not have made the film. “I wrote the story having only Kichcha in mind. He is a director’s actor and getting him to do something he hadn’t done before was the drive,” he adds.
“Sudeep and I share a 13-year old friendship. He was the hero in my first major film as a cinematographer and we have worked together in 4 films. There is a lot of trust between us. I am not a good narrator and most people who listen to my scripts won’t understand the vision of my film, but Kichcha is an exception. Cinema is a common connection for both of us. When we quarrel, it is only about the content. He helped start Pailwaan by giving us money. So it’s important that we didn’t misuse or disappoint him because he was standing by us.”
At the same time, Krishna is aware of the expectations when a star is involved. “Every sports film is a positive experience and it’s nice to motivate people. Even though all the Rocky movies were the same, every single one has inspired me,” he adds.
Kannada cinema has evolved over a period time, observes Krishna, adding, “The potential in the content takes the film to a pan-India level. It’s easier for the audience to identify good films these days.”
On bringing Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty on board, Krishna adds he wanted a strict kind of a ‘father figure’. “The audience hasn��t seen Suniel like that, so I thought this will appear fresh on-screen. For his age, he looks unbelievably fit.”
Krishna ritually follows Tamil films, too. “I would love to direct Ajith and Vijay. It’s a dream to work with them,” he smiles.
What’s next? “I want to go on a break with my family as everyone was involved in Pailwaan. I have four to five drafts ready. Let me see what works screenplay-wise,” signs off Krishna.