Son of popular award-winning director T.S. Nagabharana, Pannaga Bharana is a multifaceted man who wears many hats. Film director and actor, Pannaga has been making waves in the Sandalwood industry for over a decade now and his 2017 film Happy New Year made everyone stand up and take notice. Namita Gupta spoke to Pannaga in a candid tête-à-tête a few days back. Here are a few excerpts from the interview with the New York Film Academy graduate Pannaga Bharana.
There’s news about a film with Parul Yadav? What are you working on currently?
I have a couple of offers at hand. When my movie released, the industry was on a standstill. There are a couple of meetings going on currently and I will be announcing my next few projects soon. A comedy film is on the way and I’m currently working on it.
How was the lockdown period for you and how did you keep yourself occupied creatively?
Lockdown was actually interesting. Going back to the initial days it was all a little break and some holiday time. My parents stayed over with us and my son Ved enjoyed their company. All of us enjoyed the family time since we were together at home. My dad as you know is a legend with his theatre and film activities and mom is a costume designer and cousin is also from a creative background, so all of us thrive on creative stuff since our roots go back there. We did an online theatre and we were the pioneers in it a few months back. Ranga Shankara also did the same after that and a few others too and we are proud of it. We had ignited the fire in terms of theatre and we also came up with a song to reunite the entire state by uniting the film industry. There was negativity going on all around and everything was about Corona and deaths etc and our anthem focused on United we Stand and that this phase too shall pass. We came up with the idea of Naguthaliru – Unity Is Strength alongwith my cousin, musician and actor Vasuki Vaibhav. Vaibhav and I requested all the Kannada actors to come together for a cause. All of us united for this lockdown anthem ‘Naguthaliru’ from our homes. Vasuki and I were coordinating with them and our song turned out well and we received a tremendous response. I also tried my hand at cooking. During that period, I also worked on a few scripts and concepts. I did a bit of social service too.
How’s the work in the industry getting back to normal now?
Shoots have resumed now, but the on-set shoot experience is different. I’ve read the guidelines and it’s quite strict and tedious. What work could have been possibly achieved in less time earlier, is now taking more time and effort and production costs also have increased. If that’s the way to work, we have to deal with it. We have to work more efficiently, as market won’t change and no one will give extra money to shoot films. We film makers have to get smart as to how creative we can get and how much more work can we get done in a smaller space with lesser people. As a film maker and director, we have to think and plan a lot in advance. It’s kind of challenging sometimes. Theatre has suffered, but few good movies will bring us all back to the good old days of theatre. One of my friends who owns a restaurant said things are slowly getting back to normal and it’s a good sign. Government took time to allow the film industry to open up and I’m hoping everything will catch up and keep pace soon. I’m already seeing some good signs around. All we need is a few good movies to get back to normal. We are a land of film lovers and we cannot be away from it for too long.
You’re a dedicated dad, a doting husband, a successful actor and film maker. How do you manage to do so many things with equal passion and panache? What’s your regular day like?
It’s been a learning – a new thing for me. I’ve been learning from my family and the situation around. I’ve been seeing my son and watch him grow. Now I’m resuming back to work slowly. The last few days when my wife was down with COVID, it was tough, but I enjoyed my time with my son taking care of him. Earlier, I would be out working morning to evening, but now we have only a few hours of work, so we have to be more efficient in those many hours at hand. We are balancing our lives well. I have to give it to my dad. He is very meticulous and a complete workaholic. Yet he gives equal time to his family. He’s now the working President of Kannada language work development – managing films and theatre and he’s someone who we all have to learn from.
Any tips for budding stars and film makers?
Anyone who is interested in a career in films has to have – patience and perseverance. People always see only the success. It’s not always easy. And every movie will not always be successful. No body will watch and praise every film of yours. You have to be ready to be judged. It takes a lot of time and effort to get it all done and reach a certain stage. You’re as good as your last time. it’s a team effort. You get up in the morning and say I’ll become a great actor and director – well that doesn’t happen right? There’s a lot of diligence and sincere efforts that go behind it all. Everyone has their own journey and everyone cannot be Amitabh Bachchan. One has to find one’s zone and keep persevering.
The industry has faced a setback due to the current pandemic. What do you think is the best way it can revive and how long do you foresee it will take to swing back into action like the good old days?
It will take some time for sure as there’s been a lot of backlog in terms of movie making. People who are buying also should get more opportunities. They should be more liberal in terms of judging film makers to get their investment back. TV, satellites and theatre have to work together in building this and getting it all back on track. The entire industry has to work hard.
You have been a great friend and support for Meghana Raj Sarja specially during her tough times and recently touched everyone’s heart with the beautiful baby shower that you organised for Meghana. It is in times like these that one realises who their real friends are. Can you share more details about it?
We didn’t do anything extra. We would have anyway done the baby shower as Meghana is family. It would have anyway been like that, as we have always been there for each other since forever. Chiru (Chiranjeevi Sarja) wanted a baby shower and after he passed away, it was even more important. People are getting to know about it now, but we have always lived this way only. We don’t know anything else. Meghana is close to our family and whoever in our friend circle is close to our heart, we go all out to make special moments special for them. None of us expected that Chiru will go away so soon and so suddenly. We had planned so many things together with our families. We used to always talk about our future and kids. We are all finding our new normal also and his kid will be ours always. Till our last breath we will all be together. We also did a puja on Chiru’s birthday recently. Meghana just delivered a baby boy and we are all very happy about it.
What are the plans for the festival and holiday season ahead?
I’m done with my holiday and from now onwards, it will be only lots of work. We did a few small trips before the lockdown. We have to spring back to work now. There’s lots of work lined up. When it comes to work, I want to be focused and will be working on all festivals and birthdays also.
What are your future plans?
I want to do a romantic film. It’s been at the back of my mind for a while and now I want to do it. I feel it’s my strength and I’m now waiting for the right story and cast to complete my romantic film. Apart from that we are also planning a comedy film, which is where my strength lies. People liked my film French Biriyani. Now I want to do one for the fans and one for me. I want to make my romantic film as realistic as possible – but romance and realism don’t really go hand in hand. That’s where the challenge is. I know the scenes that I want to have in my film. I know exactly how I want my actor and actress to look. I want a beautiful visual storyline. Most of the romantic films are all about dialogues. I want to try something which is visually appealing with great actors.