UV EXCLUSIVE: OTT platform is truly a blessing says Pannaga Bharana director of French Biriyani

Madhukar Bhat, Jul 29, 2020, 6:39 PM IST

Image Source: Instagram

French Biriyani is a Kannada comedy-drama directed by Pannaga Bharana starring Danis Sait and Sai Yusuf. This is the second Kannada film to release on an Over-The-Top (OTT) platform (Amazon Prime Video) on Friday, July 24th.

The film is jointly produced by Ashwini Puneeth Rajkumar and Gurudath A Talwar of PRK Productions.  Speaking to Udayavani in an exclusive interview with Madhukar Bhat, director Pannaga Bharana shared some interesting stories on the making and post-release reactions of French Biriyani.

 A lot of mixed responses on French Biriyani, comments?

I am very much happy with the response we have received so far. This was an experimental film and we were curious about how people may react to it. As the film was released on an OTT platform, the movie has reached a wider audience and we are happy with the reactions to the film.

People have been calling us from the UK, the US, Australia sharing their thoughts on the films and I never expected such a response from people.

Initially, you had planned for a theatrical release later switched to OTT release due to COVID-19 pandemic. How has it impacted the film?

We had initially made the film for the theatric audience keeping the first half, interval, and second half in mind. After we decided to move the film to the OTT platform, we had to re-edit the narration to make it crisp to ensure the digital audience were hooked to the film.

When we do small budget films on theatres, it would need at least 1 week’s time to attract more audience and it would be difficult for the filmmakers to retain the same screens for the second week keeping in mind the number of films that will be released every week.

Since we moved to the OTT platform, the reach and response we received is enormous. We wouldn’t have got this much of reach if we had released it in theatres in such a short span of time.

The OTT platform is truly a blessing for filmmakers like us.

The way Bengaluru and the characters shown in the film are different compared to what we have seen in the other films. How did you come up with such unique characters?

I had written the story many years back based on my personal experience with an auto driver in Chennai. When I had shared the incident with my friends, they had advised me to write a story about the experience. I had confusion with how this story can be made into a Kannada film. I had met Danish Sait after completion of Humble Politician Nograj and when we were discussing the concept, he had suggested a few interesting characters that he was doing as an RJ. Out of all the characters he suggested, Asghar’s character was very interesting. I sat with my writer Avinash and developed a few characters after scouting in and around Shivajinagar and developed the narration.

We were able to cast the other characters in and around Shivajinagar perfectly.

Image Source: Instagram

The songs of French Biriyani has gone viral on social media. Your take on working with Vasuki Vaibhav?

Vasuki Vaibhav is my close relative and we grew up together. I know his abilities and he is a multi-talented individual. So far he is well known for his hit melody songs and music. I wanted to introduce the versatility of Vaibhav to the audience in this film. If you listen to the songs, all the four songs are of different genre and such songs were needed for this film. Hats off to him for giving us such beautiful songs, he has done complete justice to the role of a composer.

How was your experience with working with Danish Sait and Sal Yusuf?

Since we are from a theatre background, We write script drafts, meet actors, do workshops and after the workshop, we assert the final script based on that.

During the workshop itself, we had a good bonding with actors and it was easy for us to shoot in live locations.

Danish Sait is a performer who is so high on energy. For every shot, he used to give 10 variations and we used to pick the best variation.

Sal Yusuf was a person who knew in and around Bengaluru and this helped us in casting him for the foreigner’s character rather than casting any foreigner in the film.

How are you making the most in the lockdown times?

For the first week, I was happy to spend time with my family and it was a blessing for the entire family. As time passed, we wanted to make the best of the lockdown and planned to do a live theatre ‘Hayavadhana’ from the house itself. We received a good response and we’re glad that we were the first team to take theatre online, post which many others followed.

As there is lot of negativity spreading around during this pandemic, we decided to motivate people by boosting their morale in a big way. We composed a song called “Naguthaliru” and asked people to shoot and share clips for the song. We received a good response from people.

We were also involved in creative works and worked on a few scripts as well. As “French Biriyani” moved to the OTT platform, we started working on its promotion and other post-production work of the film.

Reaction on the French Biriyani going viral on troll pages and social media?

When people love the film or the concept, they share the movie on their own and make memes, posts, and tag the filmmakers. After the movie being released nearly 1 lakh, people have tagged me in their posts in social media. I can’t even imagine how many people might have watched it online.

It is because of the people that French biriyani was trending on Twitter on Friday  after the release.

Do you believe that the filmmakers should have more OTT releases in upcoming days?

Being a filmmaker we should explore all the possible ways of releasing the films. We are happy that there is an audience created around the world for smaller films because of such platforms.

“Finally, I would thank Puneeth Rajkumar and PRK Productions for trusting my experimental concept and supported us in making this movie. Because of him, we were able to get this success. Hats off to him and Ashwini Puneeth Rajkumar for their support and courage to produce such films,” he signed off.


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