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The Kannada film that stole a jury's heart

Last updated on: September 25, 2009 

The Kannada film that stole a jury's heart

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R G Vijayasarathy in Bangalore

Actor-director Roopa Iyer's Kannada film Mukhaputa (cover page), about children who suffer from HIV/AIDS, has just won the Best Feature Film Award at the recently concluded International Film Festival in Ireland. She has also won the Silver Sierra Best Feature Film Award at the California Film Festival.

Roopa Iyer who has just returned to Bangalore after winning the coveted award spoke about her journey in films and how the recognition has changed her life.

How did you feel when you were called to receive the award?

I raised my hands, waved to the Almighty and thanked Him. I was delighted to hear the comments by the jury about the film. They were of the uniform opinion that they selected Mukhaputa for the award because they could feel the emotions and feelings of the young child and her adoptive mother throughout the film. And as a director and actor of the film, I was really touched by such comments.

There were films from 34 countries which were jostling for the award. One specialty of the Ireland film festival is that you have a special session where judges tell you why they chose a film for an award. The judges told me that they could feel the emotion. They were also impressed with the script and the songs.

I was earlier advised to edit out the songs as many juries at the International film festivals may not like films with songs. But I did not edit them because they were an integral part of the film. Hamsalekha sir, who composed the music for my film, had done extraordinary work both in the background score as well as in the song compositions. His lyrics were brilliant and were supportive to the cause of the film.

Image: A scene from Mukhaputa

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'Mukhaputa is essentially a team effort'

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Mukhaputa has also won another award -- the prestigious Silver Sierra Best Feature Film Award -- at the California Film Festival. How do you feel about receiving this kind of international recognition for your first film?

Mukhaputa is essentially a team effort. There were many top technicians like Hamsalekha sir and cameraman S Ramachandra sir who were involved in the project. The film would not have come out so effectively without the help of such acclaimed technical crew.

I am going to California on October 23 to receive the Silver Sierra award. Mukhaputa has been nominated for screening in various countries like South Africa, Egypt, Thailand as well as at the international film festivals like Swansea Bay (Wales).

 


Image: Mark Terry, winner of best documentary and Roopa

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'A cancer specialist in USA advised me to act in the film'

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You have also played an important role in the film. How do you feel about being recognised for your first directorial venture?

When I wrote the script, I was not thinking about acting in the film. I had to consult a lot of researchers when I started writing the script. 

Dr Narayana Hosamane, one of the producers, helped me interact with the experts. It was one of the leading cancer specialists in USA, who advised me to act in the film. He said that the role of the educated woman who adopts a small girl suffering from HIV/AIDS would suit me perfectly. I had to accept his suggestion.


Image: A scene from Mukhaputa

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'I have been able to clear many misconceptions about HIV/AIDS'

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Do you think you have been able to send the message across quite effectively through the film?

I think my biggest achievement is that I have been able to clear many misconceptions about HIV/AIDS. I have tried to convey that HIV+ people need love and not sympathy. I wanted to remove many misconceptions about the disease from the minds of the people.

My film's premiere in Bangalore and subsequent screening in places like Kannada Balaga in UK received a huge response. I saw people coming out of the theatre with tears in their eyes, though many of them did not understand the language.

I was overwhelmed to hear the comments of Dr Sridhar, who has so far treated more than 15,000 HIV/AIDS patients. He said that my film has done something more than what he has been doing over the years. He also added that he was not able to reach out to a large number of people despite his persistent attempts to create awareness for more than a decade, but my film has been able to make a big impact. It was overwhleming.

When will Mukhaputa release for public viewing?

I am planning to release Mukhaputa in theatres after it gets screened in a few more festivals abroad. There are certain festivals where films which are not screened for public, will only be eligible for the award. I want to tell people that we have to take care of the HIV+ kids and try to keep them as happy as possible.

What are your future plans?

My next film will be on the hearing impaired and it will be produced by a trust maintained by the Apollo Hospitals.


Image: A scene from Mukhaputa

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