‘Vidyarthi Vidyarthiniyare’ is a teen cult film packed with Indian emotions: Director Arun Amuktha

PTI, Jun 23, 2024, 5:22 PM IST

Bengaluru: For someone who entered the film industry because he heard that ‘food is free’ on film sets, director Arun Amuktha has come a long way.

His second film, ‘Vidyarthi Vidyarthiniyare’, featuring rapper-turned-actor Chandan Shetty and newcomers Manoj, Amar, Manasvi and Bhavana, is all set for a July 19 release.

“My first film, ‘Loosegalu’ (2013) was so eccentric that nobody understood what I was trying to say. Now, when I am being given another chance almost a decade later, I am playing it safe. ‘Vidyarthi…’ is what I would describe as a teen cult, but into which I channeled so much ‘Indian emotions’ that it has now turned into a family entertainer,” Amuktha told PTI.

He has released two songs from the film so far – ‘Big Boys’ and ‘Student Party,’ both composed by Vijeth Krishna with lyrics by Chethan Kumar. He said both the songs – especially ‘Student Party,’ which has an earworm chorus – have been received well among the youth.

He said he is still holding on to many more trump cards musically – a song composed by Vasu Dixit, Bengaluru’s very own rock band Swarathma’s lead vocalist, who is known for his pulsating energy, and a song written and sung by Kannada rapper Chirayu, a name to reckon with in the city’s underground rap scene.

“I am actually gambling on the youth this time round. You see, every year, there are about 250 to 300 Kannada films, and they are mostly about hero build-up, comedy or action. In the last 10 years, there might have been 10 to 15 films that target the other big segment of the audience — the youth. So, I decided to make that my space,” said Amuktha.

Coming as he is from a small village – Chikkmalali in Shivamogga, which, according to him, still has no proper roads or electricity and has about 300 people in total – Amuktha said for him, films are all about entertainment.

“I can watch any kind of films, in any language, as long as they are entertaining. I cannot stand serious films. So, I guess my films will always aim for mass appeal too,” he added.

Unlike many who aspire to be a director to make path-breaking films, Amuktha said he wanted to be a director only because he thought it was a cool job.

Twenty years ago, when he moved to Bengaluru, Amuktha said he did what he could to survive – an odd job here and an odd job there – and ended up finally in a film set. For the next five years, he said he watched people make a beeline to the director for any decision and told himself that is a job worth aspiring for.

At the event organised to release the song ‘Student Party’ on June 15, the lyricist Chethan Kumar, who had directed Puneeth Rajkumar’s ‘James’ – which was released in 2022, posthumously after Puneeth’s death on October 29, 2021 – recalled how he, music director Vijeth Krishna and Amuktha shared a room when they were all struggling to make ends meet in Bengaluru.

“So, yes, we stand with one another when we can. While making this film particularly, it often felt like those good old days when we used to discuss films and what not in our room,” said Chethan Kumar.

Amuktha is also extremely aware that it is very tough to get people to theatre now, given that they have access to good content on their mobiles.

“Personally, I don’t mind failures. I believe that it is possible to better yourself, become a better human being, only when faced with failures,” he said.

But, he said, only if films do well, will production houses start supporting more innovative content.

As far as he is concerned, the way to innovative content, said Amuktha, is through larger than life and lavish films that would bring people to theatres and thus establish his standing as a director. “I feel people are open to experiments if the content is good. But somehow execution is falling short of expectations, mostly because producers are not willing to take risks. So, one is forced to make films with trite content. But I also feel, as they say, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. One must keep going,” he said.

If given a free hand, Amuktha said he would love to explore a film without a hero or a heroine.

“I think this will be my last Kannada film. My next will be a Malayalam film. It is worth overcoming language and other difficulties and getting into the Malayalam film industry because the Kerala government is so supportive that the industry is enjoying a beautiful ecosystem. It sustains everyone – the audience and the artistes,” he signed off.

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