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EXCLUSIVE: Janardhan Chikkanna opens up about his directorial debut in 'Gultoo'

Ahead of his directorial debut Gultoo, Janardhan talks about his journey in films, his inspiration behind making of this suspense thriller and what makes it unique from other releases. Excerpt.

Interviewed by: Vinayak Naik | Editor in Chief: Vikyath Kamath.

How has the journey as a filmmaker been for you?
It's been overwhelming! While doing my under-graduation in Engineering from MSRIT the filmmaking bug bit me. When I knew I wanted to be in film line, I went on to study at Indian Film Institute. I made a short film called "Mukkagallu" and a documentary on "Madam School for sex workers" before making this big screen debut. I started writing the script for Gultoo in 2016. It took a good 2 years for completing it and finding the right producer. But it was well worth it, as I am very happy with the way the film has turned out!

The title seems somewhat weird..
(Smiles) It made you curious about the film, didn't it? Well, that explains why the title.

The cybercrime theme of Gultoo is never explored in Kannada films before and seems to be a challenging one to deal with. What was your purpose and motive behind it?
Crime and suspense thriller has always been something that I wanted to do and explore. The digital world is expanding and consuming each one of us at a rapid pace. And people tend to overlook the dark side of cyber. The awareness of cybercrime and cyberthreats hasn't spread the way it should have. Which is why I felt I should handle the subject head on. Cinema is a powerful medium and I hope this starts a conversation on cybercrime.

You have written the story as well, apart from directing it. How did you come up with a full fledged script?
I had the basic plotline in mind. Main work was to add in drama and add various other subplots to transform it into a feature-length script. I had a research team with me who kept me updated about the world of cybercrime. Taking cues from some true events, I added some touches of fiction here and there, and formed the crux of the plot. It's been an enlightening experience as well, diving deep into this dark and unknown space.

How did you make the casting choice?
Naveen Shankar, the male lead, is a friend of mine and I have known him since my Engineering days. Being my first film, I wanted to surround myself with known faces so that I am comfortable working around them. Which is also why I approached my long-time collaboratot Amit Anand for the music. And apart from that, Naveen is a terrific actor and fits the role well.
Sonu is someone whose work I was following and was highly impressed by her talent. We approached her for the film. She loved the script and signed right away!

How's the audio of Gultoo like?
Very interesting, actually. Amit has a background of Indian classical and is also into western. This being a thriller, we wanted to give the music a good pace and also make it earthy. Which is why you will find the best of both western and classical with the soundtracks.

And finally, we will let you go after this final question! What makes Gultoo a must-watch?
Gultoo is a must-watch for its subject. We are all consuming internet every second, every minute, every hour of every day. Our privacy is at stake, and there are people who take advantage of it. With this film, we have aimed to make our viewers more aware of what they put out on the internet and how they use the internet. Of course, there is the thrill and suspense which will keep you entertained as well. But when you go out of the theater and check your phone, we want you to think twice before you share anything!

Gultoo, a Vivid Films production, releases in March.