He made the heart-warming slice-of-life short film Jayanagar 4th Block five years ago
His movies Rama Rama Re (2016) and Ondalla Eradalla (2018) won critical acclaim
Ondalla Eradalla won two national awards
Every Sunday, I invite interested writers to my office. We have named the team Satyan Balaga (Satya’s group). It’s free for all. I give them a line and they need to write a screenplay on it. For now, through these sessions, we have stories for a short film, feature film and web-series ready.
D Satya Prakash, the director of critically-acclaimed movies Rama Rama Re or Ondalla Eradalla, hardly watches movies. Neither is he from a family that lives and breathes films.
So how did cinema happen? The director in him stems from his love for telling stories. “As a kid, I loved telling stories. I would observe movie posters with fascination and form my own stories,” he recollects.
Growing up, Satya’s passion for writing was fuelled by his grandfather H C Subbharao, a national award-winning teacher. His involvement in theatre proved to be a strong foundation for Satya. “I watched a lot of plays directed by my grandfather in my native town Kadur. I enjoyed listening to his stories. I would write scripts for skits in school,” he says.
To make it big in the entertainment industry demanded an inevitable shift to Bengaluru. Life landed him in the right place at the right time, albeit after two years of struggle for his chance. Satya began working under T S Nagabharana, one of the giants of the Kannada film industry.
“I worked as a dialogue writer, assistant director and associate director. There I was exposed to the basics of filmmaking,” he says.
With years of grind and learning behind him, Satya has emerged as one of the important filmmakers in Kannada today. His Rama Rama Re (2016) and Ondalla Eradalla (2018) were high-quality films that didn’t attempt to be different for the sake of it. The ‘serious’ nature of his stories notwithstanding, Satya’s films easily fall in the commercial milieu, and this is where the craftsman in him shines bright.
Rama Rama Re, which spoke on death penalty, had a strong dose of sarcastic humour. Ondalla Eradalla subtly touched on caste and religion. With ample comedy and interesting characters, this children’s film was a highly satisfying watch. Satya’s astute writing nudged the audience to reflect on his film’s subjects.
“I feel the world is good and people are nice. I try to tell the same through my films. The aspects of life that interest me the most are hunger, poverty and love,” he outlines.
Satya was a nobody when he made the heart-warming slice-of-life short film Jayanagar 4th Block five years ago. The film, with 1.1 million views on YouTube, was the first glimpse into Satya’s talent. Actor Dhananjaya, who wrote Jayanagar 4th Block and starred in it, makes an interesting observation.
“Only a good writer can recognise good scripts. I took Jayanagar 4th Block’s script to at least 10 directors. None of them was interested. Satya believed in it. He is definitely a director who is here to stay,” he says.
The multiplex crowd has given its nod of approval to Satya’s films.
However, the 35-year-old wants to make movies for all kinds of audience. An admirer of Rajkumar Hirani’s works, Satya, like the Bollywood ace, is confident of working with a star while still holding on to his style.
“Rama Rama Re was written with a big actor in mind. But it didn’t materialise that way. I can make a film with a superstar and yet remain true to my vision,” says Satya, who is now gearing up for a film under Puneeth Rajkumar’s banner PRK Productions.
His level-headed response to success and failure augurs well for Satya’s future. Rama Rama Re was released in a year when Kannada cinema was making the right noises with films like Thithi and Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu.
“Almost 40 producers rejected the script. This forced me to fund my own film. After the first show, I didn’t think the movie would survive beyond two days. Everything changed when big names like Upendra, Sudeep, Puneeth, Ganesh, Rakshit Shetty, Dhananjaya and Sruthi Hariharan took to social media to support my film,” he says of the film that won him the best debutant State award.
Ondalla Eradalla was a more well-rounded film than Rama Rama Re, but it tanked at the box-office. A technical issue hit the film and it lost the competition to another children’s film Sarkari.Hi.Pra.Shaale. The film did get its due when it was adjudged the best Kannada film at the Critics Choice Film Award in Mumbai. Later, it won two national awards.
Satya, who is keen to get better with every film, has a dream of forming a writer’s club. Satya’s vision isn’t surprising for he was someone who never got tired of writing in the Nagabharana camp.
“Satya wouldn’t just assist me in my scripts for films. I did a lot of theatre and light and sound shows. In a day, he would write for all three art forms,” recollects Nagabharana, the current Karnataka Development Authority chairman.
“We lack quality writers in the industry,” laments Satya. “Every Sunday, I invite interested writers to my office. We have named the team Satyan Balaga (Satya’s group). It’s free for all. I give them a line and they need to write a screenplay on it. For now, through these sessions, we have stories for a short film, feature film and web-series ready,” he beams.