The advance booking for upcoming Kannada film The Villain opened a week before its release date. Director Prem is happy with the response he has received for his film from single screens even as he is leading a fight against multiplex giants in Karnataka over the profit-sharing arrangement.
“50 percent of the revenue of a new Kannada movie in the first week goes to multiplexes. But for the films of other languages, the profit sharing between producers and multiplexes is 55:45. I’m asking why is this partiality for Kannada movies?,” he asked during an interview with indianexpress.com.
Even on Tuesday, just two days before the film’s release, multiplexes were yet to take bookings for The Villain. Prem isn’t ready to budge unless his demands are met.
“We haven’t given the movie to multiplexes yet,” he said. “I will escalate the protest with the support of all pro-Kannada groups if the issue was not settled soon.”
The director revealed that The Villain will be the first Kannada film to release on more than 1000 screens worldwide on Friday. It took Prem a little more than two years to finish the project with multiple stars in the cast.
“I started Kali (with Shivarajkumar and Sudeep). But, I dropped it due to scheduling conflicts of the actors from other film industries. I took one year to complete the screenplay of The Villian and another year for the production,” he said.
For Prem, shooting the film is the easiest part of filmmaking. “I spend a majority of time finalising the script and songs,” he explained. “And the post-production also takes a lot of time. The shooting is the easy part. We only shot 112 days for The Villain.”
Prem revealed that The Villain required heavy VFX work in the post-production.
“It is the first Kannada film to have 1 hour 20 minutes of VFX. And all the special effects were done by five Indian studios,” he said.
The director has always been fascinated by what the VFX was able to offer to his movies. He has used special effects in small doses in most of his films, especially in song sequences. “The VFX allows me to visualize the awe-inspiring world for my films. A few songs in The Villain will surprise the audience.”
Doing a film with superstars such as Shivarajkumar and Sudeep is not an easy task. The director has to meet a lot of expectations of fans and make sure both the stars get an equal space in the narration. Prem, however, said he treated them as just actors playing the characters that he created. And not seeing them as superstars saved him from a lot of pressure. “I have a story and there are two heroes in it. I will not put one character above the other. My goal is to make a good film for people. Not for the stars in my film,” he said.
Prem said he considers Shivarajkumar as his elder brother, while Sudeep as his best friend. And he applies a different working style for each star. “I have worked with Shivarajkumar in three films, so he understands what I want in a take just looking at my face. I have a way to explain things to Sudeep and get what I want from him,” he said. He was also very comfortable working with Bollywood actors Amy Jackson and Mithun Chakraborty.
“Amy is a very good artiste. She is very down to earth. She has acted in Rs 400-crore budget movie (2.0), and several Hindi films. She has also worked in an English series (Supergirl). But, she has no airs. Like Shivrajkumar, she also comes to sets on time with full make-up and sits near the camera waiting for her scene. She was very dedicated to this project,” Prem heaped praise on Amy.
The only challenge he faced making the multi-starrer was matching the shooting dates with the availability of the actors. “Mithun sir is a fantastic person. He has played a cameo in The Villain. And he has wonderfully played his role,” said Prem.
“He (Mithun) was India’s superstar back in the day. But, he is a very simple and humble movie star that I know. He came to sets on time and made no special demands. In fact, his caravan had a breakdown. But, instead of waiting for it, he got ready on the sets and shot for the scene,” he recalled. “He told me not to worry about such things and just do my job as a director.”
The Villain will open in cinemas on Friday.