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This worldly Shiva is a jogi too

S. SHIVA KUMAR

A couple of years ago Shivrajkumar ushered in an era of violent films, with the film Om. The trend is going strong with his recent film Jogi, now in its packed fifth week



HEALTHY APPROACH Shivrajkumar: `Everybody should be positive when they're making a film. Moneymaking should not be the only criterion' Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

Good times are back for Kannada cinema. People are thronging the theatres again and you can hear the cash registers ringing. There's no talk of stalling the release of other language films. Every Friday changes the fortunes of stars and with Jogi Shivrajkumar is numero uno again.

Pinning him down for an interview is like trying to catch fish with bare hands. It's not because of the success of Jogi. He's shooting at locales not commutable. And when you do manage to get hold of the busy star, who's also the winner of this year's Best Actor award for his film Chigurida Kanasu, there is this sense of having achieved a rare feat. An old bungalow tucked away in the cool confines of Sadashivnagar serves as his office. Every nook and niche holds a trophy. Shivanna, clad in shorts and a faded T-shirt, looks as relaxed as only a successful person can be.

In the long interview with the actor, he seemed to have changed a lot since the earlier ones.

Did you sense right from the beginning that Jogi would succeed?

I felt that people would like the film. I felt the same when Prakash, the director of Rishi came and narrated the story.

You have done a similar film previously, Om. So was it the mother-son relationship that attracted you?

I liked the concept and the narration. We did want to make a different kind of film on rowdyism, but nothing was mindless. I was attracted by the title too. We recorded the songs and when it came to publicity we decided on a different get-up. On the day of the muhurat, when the posters were put up, there was excitement among my fans. The songs were recorded and we were impressed. We decided to shoot in locales like Jaipur. When we were shooting the climax scenes I felt my performance was just flowing naturally. The emotions the director created were impressive. It was after the audio was released that a sort of craze developed. I still don't know how. We were expecting the film to do well but not so well.

Did you have doubts about the negative ending?

He lifts the macchu only because someone insults his mother. He doesn't even get to see her in the end. He realises the futility of it all, that he will have to live with that emptiness in his life. There was some fear initially, but I saw the film as a whole, sympathies were with the hero.

At the height of a craze for remakes you decided that you would not work in them. Why was that decision taken? Anyway, there weren't too many good original films being made.

We have given good original hits like Om and Nammoora Mandara Hoove. After I took the decision I have done good films like Shriram, Rishi and Rakshasa. Everytime we set out to do a film, the intentions were good. We did go wrong at times with Valmiki and Kanchana Ganga. All we have do is to try. I'm doing films like Anna Thangi, Ashoka and a historical, Kumara Rama.

After the release of Jogi you were very happy with the congratulatory messages from colleagues and praised the unity in your fraternity. But shouldn't this unity also reflect in terms of timing the releases?

It depends on the other producers. Jogi is running in 14 theatres in the fourth week, which is very difficult for a Kannada film. Moreover, it also depends on the availability of theatres. What you're saying is true but it's business. We cannot tell other producers to wait because our film is doing well.

Now that Kannada films are doing well don't you think the whole exercise of trying to stop the release of other language films was futile?

It was a collective decision taken by our producers. We were definitely not against other language films. Things have changed and now North Indians are watching our films. Everybody should be positive when they're making a film. Moneymaking should not be the only criterion. We have to see that we get the attention of the other states as well. Now, people should not feel that Shivanna is talking like this because Jogi is a big hit. Success is not new to me. I've never had an image or done the same kind of films.

You have seen both success and failure. Publicity cannot save a bad film. So what lesson has the success of Jogi taught you?

You're right, but publicity can highlight whatever positives there are in a film. I can name a lot of films that have done better because of publicity. Whenever you've done a two-hero film you've chosen the weaker of the two roles, be it Preethse or Nammoora Mandara Hoove.

I cannot refuse a film with Ramesh. We make a good pair. I look at how good the story is and not how many scenes I have. I had no problems with Preethse too because Rockline Venkatesh was the producer.

If you pass through Majestic area most of the hoardings have heroes with a machchu in hand. Is this a passing phase?

Well, a machchu in hand does not ensure success. The strength of the story will decide how long the film will run. You won't believe it but most of the people occupying Vidhana Soudha have seen Jogi. I don't know what is attracting so many people. They love the lingo spoken in the film.

Your father looks very old and weak when he appears in the initial scenes of Jogi. You must be regretting the fact that you have not acted with him.

That feeling is there. I do regret it. But with the blessings of God we may still pull it off. Even now he doesn't let people know the pain he's in. The time he spent with Veerappan in the forests has made a big dent, psychologically.

You've been around for more than 20 years. Did you think you would last so long?

Never. To begin with, I never thought I would become an actor. Things just happened and they continue to do so, with the blessings of my parents. Let's see how long I last. I have to thank my producers for backing me. I am planning another film with Prem called Jangama. I'm hoping for the best.

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