After 38 years, Basave Gowda has breathed new life into a movie.
After crossing many hurdles for nearly four decades, the second unfinished directorial venture of doyen of Kannada cinema S.R.Puttanna Kanagal’s ‘Saavira Mettilu’ has hit the screen last week. Perhaps in the world cinema a film started 38 years ago is releasing for the first time. Thanks to Dr.D.B.Basave Gowda and veteran director K.S.L.Swamee for fulfilling Puttanna’s dreams. Those appeared in the unfinished project of ‘Saavira Mettilu’ not living today are Kalyankumar, Pandari Bai, Vajramuni, music director Vijayabhasker, cameraman D.V.Rajaram, Nanjaraj Urs, Kanagal Prabhakara Shastry and others.
Not a remake, rehash or remix. It’s a revival: a film by Puttanna Kanagal, stopped midway nearly four decades ago, has just been completed and released last Friday (October 27).
Saavira Mettilu (1000 Steps) may enter the Guinness Book of Records for many reasons. Jayanthi, then 20, was the heroine. She’s 58 now, and she’s still the heroine in the movie. There’s been no film in which any heroine’s acted her age, both in the young and old roles. There’ve been films where the heroine adds on wrinkles and grey strands to look old, but nothing like this. And there’s Ashwath (her father in the film): he’s her father in the revived avataar also.
The story? It revolves around Jayanthi, a young girl who lives in the hills, and walks a 1000 steps down to her college, and a 1000 up, back home. She meets Kalyan Kumar, a rich young man, when his car’s punctured in the hills, his hand trapped under the car. Jayanthi helps him by lifting the car, and love blossoms. The parents fix the wedding date.
But, Ramu, who hankers after Jayanthi, has the wedding called off. He tells Kalyan’s orthodox mother that if Jayanthi married him, she (the mother) would be widowed, courtesy Jayanthi’s unlucky star. Later, Ramu’s murdered. Jayanthi’s accused of killing him. Though innocent, she accepts the verdict and lands in jail. She has her reasons.
Puttanna Kanagal had directed the film up to this point, in black and white. Recently, Basave Gowda, the co-director, actor and story writer of the film, decided to complete the film. But many who’d acted in the film, were dead.
He did not have the script too. “Kanagal got the script done only on the sets.” said Gowda in a tele interview. “Many dissuaded me. They said I’d lose money.” But others asked to be part of the film, and they did not want payment – 17 actors like Ambarish, Jayanthi, Master Hirannayya. It was their gurudakshina to Kanagal. They’d worked with him, he’d touched their lives.
The second part, in colour, has Gowda as the jail superintendent, and Anu Prabhakar as his assistant, piece Jayanthi’s story together and unravel the mystery. Jayanthi’s freed, the old lovers are united.
Gowda’s done the black and white parts in sepia, as a flashback, while incorporating the colour parts seamlessly. But it was a challenge. Says MN Swamy, editor, “The negatives were of poor quality, stuck to each other. It was tough to link the old and new stories by technique or emotion.” But the film’s done, passed the censors’ scissors unscathed.
“Saavira Mettilu also signifies the steps we take in life, one at a time, to reach our goal,” says Gowda. His journey with an unusual film has just begun.
The Kannada audience must thank Dr.D.B.Basave Gowda and veteran director K.S.L.Swamee for fulfilling the dreams of Puttanna. Those appeared in the unfinished project of ‘Saavira Mettilu’ not living today are Kalyankumar, Pandari Bai, Vajramuni music director Vijayabhasker, cameraman D.V.Rajaram, Nanjaraj Urs, Kanagal Prabhakara Shastry and others.
Those who are added to the cast when the film was started again by Basave Gowda are Ambarish, Ramakrishna, Sunderraj, B.V.Radha, Padma Vasanthi, Lakshmidevi, Hema Chaudhary, Jaya, Girija Lokesh, Ashalatha, Shivaram, Govinda Rao, Master Hirannayya, Mukyamantri Chandru, Doddanna, Govinda Rao, Shivakumar and others.
The famous flute player Pravin Godkindi has given the final touches to the music direction of Vijayabhasker. S Janaki, P Susheela, LR Ishwari, PB Srinivas, Sangeetha Katti, Kaushik have lent their voice for the lyrics of Nanja Raj Urs, Kanagal Prabhakara Shastri, Vijayanarasimha, Jayagopal, Prof. AR Mitra. Manjunath has done the remaining portion of cinematography of DV Rajaram.
Must watch for any film buff.
Kannada Rajyotsavada Haardhika Shubhashayagalu.
‘Savira Mettilu’: Fusing past and present