Abhaya Simha’s fourth film in the last 10 years is titled Paddayi. Paddayi brings into the fold another adaptation of Shakespeare’s masterpiece of a tragedy, Macbeth. The film is set in a village in the outskirts of a huge city.
Abhaya who have made films in Kannada, and Malayalam, has now ventured in the Tulu language. ‘Paddayi’ is a Tulu film, and his fourth film fetched him his second National Film Awards in the Best Tulu film category.
Q. Abhaya Simha’s journey
I’m a graduate of FTII, Pune. That’s how my journey started about 10 years ago. My first film ‘Gubbachigalu’ which was released in 2008 and was a part of Habitat Film Festival 10 years ago. ‘Paddayi’ is my fourth film, which is in Tulu language. I’ve done two other films, Shikari was in Kannada and Malayalam, whereas my 3rd film Sakkare was a Kannada film.
Q. About ‘Paddayi’
‘Paddayi’ means “west” in Tulu language and the film is based on a fishing community in coastal Karantaka. When they go to the sea, they say that they are going westwards. That is the idea behind the name. It’s about going to the west. The story of the film is based on Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. Tulu is a small language and the Moghavira dialect is even smaller and the film is made on that language.
Q. Inspired from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”
Like all great classical texts, “Macbeth” also talks about greed, lust, desire, basic human nature. That is universal. Shakespeare wrote it 400 years ago but it is still relevant, so I was thinking about that. When it came to my own setting, I was born and brought up in that area. I had a lot of Tulu speaking friends. So when it came to the changing circumstances there, it was but natural to use Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” in that context.
Q. About the cast
All my actors are new, except for one or two. I wanted to keep an element of theatre because it is based on a play. I thought that using theatre artists would help me give a different perspective on the characters. In ‘Paddayi’, just like “Macbeth”, each of the characters is really important. It’s a story of an entire community. It was very important for me to have the right actors for this job.
Q. Virtues of film festivals and awards
It is very important. National awards are a big thing. It brings our work into the limelight. My own film is made in such a small community. So the marketing of such films becomes more difficult. A film made in Kannada or Marathi will have a pan-Marathi or pan-Kannada appeal. Tulus are so little in number, that it becomes difficult to market the films. These festivals bring focus to regional cinema. Otherwise, we would succumb to the bigger, commercial films. These festivals give us marketability because of this.
Q. About Tulu film industry
There is a small Tulu film industry. Every year, they make about twenty films. They started making films in 1980s, but would release one film in 5 years. Of late, the number has increased.
Every language has its own stage, literature, film culture and identity. Each culture will have its cinema heritage. My own friend, Pushpendra Singh made a movie in Brijbhasha, which is the first film in this language. In that way, each of these cultures has their own cinema heritage.
Q. Promotion and marketing
Marketing is always a challenge. I have made Kannada films also, which have bigger budgets. If you’re a Tulu filmmaker, you are fighting with the Kannada market. Kannada market faces the Hindi market. The Hindi market fights with Hollywood. So the struggle is always there. Hollywood has its own problem because of distribution issues in Europe. The level of struggle is different, and the strategies are different.
Q. What does cinema mean to you?
That’s a difficult question to answer because I may not have understood cinema yet. So far, it means a lot. And my future projects are still at the scripting level.
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