Chapter 1, realization of its sequel and collaboration with Yash-Entertainment News, Firstpost
Prashant Neel on KGF and his success: “I didn’t think he was going to please everyone by doing it. I was very surprised – pleasantly of course that it did so well commercially’
When the Kannada film KGF: Chapter 1 released in 2018, no one – let alone its director Prashanth Neel – expected it to be one of India’s biggest box office hits. Starring Yash as Rocky bhai, the film put Kannada films on the global map and Yash and Neel became instant household names. Hombale Films’ production has grossed over Rs 250 crore at the box office and the team are now returning with KGF: Chapter 2which is slated for release on April 14.
In this exclusive chat with first post, director Prashanth Neel talks about the upcoming movie, Yash and more.
KGF: Chapter 1 turned out to be one of the biggest blockbusters and now comes KGF: Chapter 2. When you started writing the screenplay for the second part, did you encounter any difficulties? Since it had to appeal to a pan-Indian audience.
Prashanth Neel: No, actually we wrote parts 1 and 2 together but separated them halfway. When we started making the movie, we wanted to make it one movie. Then we decided to split it into two parts. We didn’t even change a single word in the movie just because it was getting bigger; I could express myself a little more because the budgets could be stretched a little more than what we initially did with Chapter 1 as a Kannada movie.
How did the success of KGF: Chapter 1 make you feel? It was planned ?
Prashanth Neel: Absolutely not! Even though it looked like a conventional commercial film, the second half of the film – the way we routed it – was very unconventional because it didn’t have the usual theme of a commercial film. We didn’t go that route. We installed it in a dark atmosphere; we stick to the story.
Somehow I didn’t think it was going to appeal to everyone while doing it. I was very surprised – pleasantly of course! It also did very well commercially.
What do you think are Yash’s strengths as an actor?
Prashanth Neel: You become a star because you have acting abilities and a magnetic attitude that everyone loves and reveres. It was not at all what worried us. In fact, Yash’s stardom brought in budgets to make a bigger Kannada movie than what they usually do in Kannada movie industry. We first focused on making KGF like a Kannada movie. His previous movies and the track record that Yash brought was that we could make a bigger movie than a regular Kannada movie.
With Yash, it’s not just about acting – he’s very intuitive with scripts; he understands where things are going; he understands what my strengths are and what works within what we call storytelling. He is my first point of judgment on how the film is going. If I shoot a scene and his eyes light up, I know I did a good job. If he’s disappointed, I know we have to do it again. So on the sets themselves, we know if we are going in the right direction or not. To answer your question – Yash’s magnetic personality reflects a lot on the character and he probably molded himself to be more like Rocky – he became a lot like Rocky during filming. Everything Rocky is comes directly from him.
Due to the pandemic, KGF: Chapter 2The release of has been delayed. Were you able to make the movie you wanted? Did you have to compromise at any point?
Prashanth Neel: We were supposed to come out in October 2020. The pandemic hit us in March 2020 and we just had to shoot Sanjay Dutt sir so we weren’t terribly affected by that but it was just the fatigue of hold a movie so long. We had plenty of time to work on post-production, so no complaints about that. The two years were a mental stress for everyone in the world – everyone shared this problem.
I love Tarantino’s quote on your Twitter bio that says, “When people ask me if I went to film school, I’m like, ‘No, I went to the movies.’ How has Indian cinema shaped the director you are today?
Prashanth Neel: A lot actually. All the 70s cinema is the reason why I make films and I try to make the kind of Hindi films that they did in the 70s! The movies of the 70s had a lot of influence from westerns and that was reflected in how they were able to put that in an Indian context and in the mindset of Indian audiences. Western approach combined with Indian masala movies that people love to watch. I think it’s something that stuck with me. All of Amitabh Bachchan’s films (especially from the 70s) had a huge influence on me.
So you’re a big fan of Amitabh Bachchan?
Prashanth Neel: I’m one of the greatest actually! (Laughs)
Is that where your love of acting comes from?
Prashanth Neel: Exactly! westerns love The good, the bad and the ugly, etc. Somewhere growing up in Bangalore, you must watch more movies in English than in any other language. It was the culture back then. And all the great movies that came out had action in them. It shaped me.
With the success of KGF, you are hailed as one of the directors who took Indian cinema to a new level.
Prashanth Neel: Absolutely not. I think there are many other people! It’s just that when a movie is a hit, everything gets amplified to a degree where they start talking about the next big thing and so on. For me, it’s bread and butter and I don’t think beyond that. It’s a process – this story worked; they loved Rocky’s character. Somewhere they relate to that. In terms of directing, I have to blame my technicians because they are fantastic technicians and they did the look and feel job for the film. That’s why it looks so grand.
Is there a part of Rocky bay who are you?
Prashanth Neel: (Laughs) The fears we have growing up like being bullied or whatever, we probably want to be like Rocky bhai. But it’s the exact opposite – that’s what I’m not, that’s what Rocky is!
Latha Srinivasan is a veteran journalist based in Chennai. His passion is entertainment, travel and dogs.
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