May 25, 2011
Perhaps, for the first time in the history of Tulu cinema no other Tulu movie has generated as much hype and curiosity as “Oriyardori Asal”, the Tulu comedy flick, which is all set for release on May 27, 2011. Billed as the first full-fledged Tulu comedy film to hit the silver screen, the release of Oriyardori Asal (One-upmanship) is keenly awaited and looked forward to both by the general public and the industry watchers with bated breath. The hullaballoo about the movie is not without reason. The curiosity stems from the fact that it is the dream project of the ‘czar’ of Tulu plays Vijaykumar Kodialbail who has spared no efforts to make a film on a lavish scale.
Vijaykumar Kodialbail has a penchant for doing things differently and in his own terms and quality is something which he never compromises. In the 25 years of involvement in Tulu Theatre Vijaykumar has earned a reputation through sheer hard work and discipline and this reputation is something on which the latest movie ‘Oriyardori Asal’ is heavily banking on. As a play, Oriyardori Asal has broken every possible record and hence there is a speculation with regard to the success of the movie. Considering the pre-release publicity it has created and the hoardings that have sprung in every part of Dakshina Kannada District and Upupi, there are indications loud and clear that Vijaykumar is all set to hit the bull’s eye with his comedy flick Oriyardori Asal (OOA).
Oriyardori Asal is the dream project of Vijaykumar Kodialbail as he has written the story, screenplay, dialogues and lyrics apart from producing the movie under the banner of Roopalaxmi films. Vijaykumar minces no words when he says “I am confident that I will plough back more than what I have invested in the movie OOA”. That the movie has generated public enthusiasm is evident from the fact that more than 100 hoarding of the cinema OOA are donning different parts of South Kanara and Vijaykumar or his associates have not paid for any of these hoardings. People have come forward on their own to put hoardings and a grateful Vijaykumar says “I am overwhelmed to see such positive vibes coming from people and I am grateful to them for the encouragement they have given”.
In the last 40 years about 40 films have been made in Tulu in a period spanning four decades and it is generally believed that investment made in Tulu films does not rake up enough returns. Further, successful plays need not become a success when it comes to movies. The lean and hungry looking Vijaykumar, as an aura about him and is conscious of the prevailing beliefs and trends. His eyes radiate an unfathomable energy and determination which is quite uncommon. “Taking risks” is something that spurs Vijaykumar and he has gambled with it in theatre and has come out with flying colours. “When others fear to take risks, I enjoy the tension that comes with it. In my play ‘Kode, Ini, Elle’ I have not dithered to criticize the government on globalization and its impact, on SEZ or corruption and feel I have taken a heavy risk”.
This is just one of the factors that keep him a notch above the rest as far as Tulu theatre is concerned and he wants to replicate the same success Tulu film industry as well. Despite just a day or two to go for the release, Vijaykumar exhibits no signs of nervousness or trepidation and is a picture of confidence.
No Compromise on Quality
“We always blame others every time something goes wrong with cinema. I am aware that people don’t expect very high quality or standards in Tulu Cinema but they certainly expect a minimum standard and I have strived to give that in this movie. Moreover when it comes to Tulu cinema we are prone to showing only Kambala, Bhootha Kola, Kori katta, coconut groves, paddy fields and greenery. We have been focusing only on our traditions and culture. People in general are tired and bored of such repetitions as the novelty element in Tulu movies has been missing”, he points out. People may argue that there may not be freshness in the movie OOA considering that the original play is more than two decades old and has been staged successfully countless times not only in South Karnataka but also in other parts of India and abroad.
Vijaykumar certainly seems to know his onions well. “I am aware that successful plays have not always become successful cinemas. Keeping in mind that most people have seen the play I have maintained the original characters of the play but have completely changed the storyline, lyrics and dialogues of the movie. When it comes to comedy I have retained only those dialogues that having an enduring comedy value. There are extra characters played by Guru Kiran, Raymond D Souza and a few others which were not there in the original play.
Help has come in for Vijaykumar from various quarters. Music Director Guru Kiran has acted and sung for the movie free of cost. Similarly, Udit Narayan, who has sung for the first time in Tulu and S P Balasubrahmanyam and Thriller Manju who has managed the fighting scenes for the movie, have worked for the movie at a concessional rate. But whatever money saved on that front Vijaykumar has used in enriching the filming of the songs and other fields of production. Instead of using Fuji (used by most producers) he has used Kodak films spending 13 lakhs on it. For filming one of the songs for the movie on Nandibetta he has used dancers, which is not an easy task to do. Even for printing he has used negative quoting so that the quality of the prints remains longer.
Vijaykumar had registered the Roopalaxmi Films banner about 5 years back by paying Rs. 2500/- and went on renewing it though he had no intention of coming to the movie field. But he is not new to the cinema world as he had produced a Tulu short film for children “Baravoda Bandashale” in 2004. Reminiscing about this movie Vijaykumar says “this movie dealt with the same topic covered by Tare Zamin Par and was given to all schools free of cost. Since it was a Tulu movie it did not evince much enthusiasm among people then”.
Despite having 25 years of experience in Tulu theatre of which he is the unquestionable czar, Vijaykumar has not succumbed to the temptation of directing the movie, a mistake done by many Tulu film directors. “It is a pity that people who have not held a clipboard also venture into direction these days by riding piggyback on others. I will not get into the direction because I am a novice to this field and want to learn from others. I feel theatre and filmdom are completely different from each other and require different skills. Though the temptation to direct is always there I have not succumbed to that lure”. He further adds that when he criticized earlier directors of Tulu films for committing such blunders leading to the failure of the movie, he does not want to commit such an imbecility and dig his own grave.
How he came to produce this movie also makes an interesting reading.
A Kannada producer had come forward to produce this movie and had even the pooja. But for some reasons the movie did not take off. “It happened to me for the 8th time and I said enough was enough and decided to turn a producer”, he recounts. Finance, he says, has never been a problem mainly because in the last 25 years of his theatre life he has not sought the help of any one. So this time around, help came pouring in from unexpected sources without his asking for it.
Vijaykumar Kodialbail has come a long way beginning with his first play in 1983 with his first play “Oriye Mage”, followed by 2nd play “Onji Nimisha” which has been made into a successful movie “Onthe Adjust Malpule”. His third play was “Oriyardori Asal” and with that Vijaykumar Kodialbail had arrived on Tulu theatre and that too with a bang and there has been no stopping this maverick theatre personality who has given a new lease of life to Tulu Theatre with his professional team “Kala Sangama”. Credit goes to him for proving that one can make a career out of Tulu theatre. Kala Sangama soon became a rage by being a nonconformist professional team with a fondness for taking risks. That reputation is proving to be an asset to Vijaykumar, now that he has made a foray into films.
Vijaykumar, however, says that it is the Indian Catholic Youth Movement (ICYM) which gave momentum for Tulu plays and to Tulu theatre in the coast districts of Mangalore and Udupi. “A strong foundation for Tulu theatre was laid due to the impetus we received from ICYM and many other profession catholic organizations. These organizations staged many plays in coastal districts of undivided South Kanara. These organizations also were also responsible for staging Tulu plays in Gulf countries and helped Tulu theatre take a strong foothold”, he argues.
Lot to Learn
Though the comedy play “Oriyardori Asal” was a commercial success the play that has given personal satisfaction to Vijaykumar is “Kode, Ini, Elle”, that tackled the much relevant topics of communal harmony and other burning issues concerning the coastal districts of Karnataka. “This play succeeded in creating awareness among people along with providing entertainment and I believe in entertaining people but with a strong message. If “Kode, Ini, Elle dealt with globalization and its impact, “Seetha Teacher”, tackled the issue of HIV Aids and ‘”Madime” was about the social evil of dowry. One of the main reasons my plays are successful is because they deal with socially relevant issues and touch a chord among people”, he asserts.
Now that Vijaykumar has got into films he plans to come out with one film per year under the banner of Roopalaxmi Films. However, he does not intend to sidetrack his theatre activity because of films.
He dismisses the general belief that there is no market for Tulu films. Tulu films are viewed by all irrespective of their mother tongue whereas a language like Konkani does not enjoy that advantage. “There are Tulu speaking people everywhere but we have not tapped such cities and towns. I am going to take this movie to all other places where we have a potential” he declares.
It will be the first Tulu movie to be premiered simultaneously in Mangalore, Puttur and Moodbidri on 27th May, 2011. It will be premiered in Udupi and Kasargad coming week. The film has local talent that includes comedian Navin D Padil, Arvind Bolar, Rajesh Bantwal, Santhosh Shetty, Suresh Anchan Guru Kiran , Raymond D Souza along with Likhith Shetty and Ramya Barna in the lead role. Local singers like Rameshchandra, Sangeeta Balachandra and Nandita have been given an opportunity to sing for the film. Cinematography is provided by Srinivas P Babu. Leading Choreographer couple of Kannada cinema industry (who hail from Puttur) has done the dance sequences for the film.
Vijaykumar Kodialabail is confident that his three hour comedy flick will be patronized by the people. The curiosity generated by the film and the response it gets even on Face Book is a positive sign indicating that good times are ahead. That is equal to winning half the battle.
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