An interview with Anup Bhandari, man who made Kannadigas proud with Rangitaranga

There's no mystery on what his future plans are: full-time filmaking
An interview with Anup Bhandari, man who made Kannadigas proud with Rangitaranga
An interview with Anup Bhandari, man who made Kannadigas proud with Rangitaranga
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Director Anup Bhandari is a happy man. His first feature length film Rangitaranga is now in its 25th week in theatres.

A suspense thriller, Rangitaranga has wowed audiences in Karnataka and outside India with its plot, acting and detailing. For those who grew up in Karnataka in the 1990s, there is the added nostalgia of the film’s connection with the teleserial Guddada Bhoota, a much-loved drama.

Two days ago, when he learned that the film is eligible for an Oscar nomination, he told the media that he did not believe it at first. He told IANS: “We really don’t have any hopes. Anything we achieve from here on will be an added bonus.”

In a manner of speaking, Rangitaranga was eight years in the making. Although he was a software software engineer for close to eight years, Anup’s heart was not in it.

Asked how he made the switch from a nine-to-five job to filmmaking, Anup told The News Minute that he continued with his job and made seven short films before he felt confident enough to do Rangitaranga.

He made his first film in 2005 but Words, completed in 2010, is the only one that is online. At 14-minutes, Words is a thought-provoking film about silence and communication.

“I put Words online because it was the only one with professional quality. I kept writing, and made Rangitaranga when I thought I was ready (to make a feature length film),” Anup says.

Anup toyed with more than one idea, before he settled on a suspense thriller for his first feature length film. “I postponed the other two because I felt they would become too big, budget-wise. Initially, I thought of writing a one-room mystery story, but that (the story of Rangitaranga) too became bigger than I envisaged initially,” he says.

On how the Guddada Bhoota title song became part of Raangitaranga, Anup said, “When I was writing the script, the song was just playing in my head. So I approached Sadanada Suvarna for the rights. Initially, he thought that there would be an item song, but when I showed him what he did with it, he was happy with both the song and the film.”

The title song of Guddada Bhoota, which was directed by senior theatre person and director Sadananda Suvarana, has been iconic, especially in the coastal Karnataka region. The song was composed by Suvarna himself in Tulu, which is the most widely spoken language of the coastal Karnataka region.

The plot of Rangitaranga itself incorporates several elements of the cultural landscape of the region. Anup was born in Puttur, a village in Dakshina Kannada. While he grew up in Mysuru and still lives there, Puttur was where he has spent many holidays.

Borrowing from the setting of the teleserial, Anup has called the ancestral village of one of the protagonists, Kamarottu.

Every detail in the film has been painstakingly put together. He scouted around 100 houses to find the right one for the film, where much of the drama happens. Shot across several parts of Karnataka, Anup and his team looked at dozens of locations in Madikeri, Mysuru, Ooty, Sakleshpur, Bangalore and even in Kerala.

Asked what his future plans are, Anup said he was considering three or four films but while declining to talk about any of them, he said he was certain of one thing, “I’m going to make films full-time.”

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