(From L to R) Chaluve Gowda, Vijay Kiragandur and Will Sharpe
The abandoned mines at the Kolar Gold Fields in Karnataka were the perfect location. It took three years to write KGF, and six months to train Yash to walk, look and behave like Rocky Bhai. Only after the script was finalised and the last one-liner finessed did Hombale Films start production on Prashanth Neel’s KGF. Friends from their high school days in Mandya, Chaluve Gowda and Vijay Kiragandur, have always loved the movies. And over the years they have built an ecosystem where they can work with the best in the film business, whether it is Neel’s KGF or Rishab Shetty’s Kantara, two of 2022’s biggest blockbusters. They have done three movies with the late Puneeth Rajkumar, three with Yash, and worked with both actor-directors Rishab Shetty and Rakshit Shetty. Their fundamentals are strong; people are looking for ordinary men being elevated to superhero status by transformative events, whether childhood poverty or spiritual communion. They believe their movies should carry the aroma of the region to which the stories belong. And most of all, they believe in secularism, whether it is the Muslims playing during Kali Puja in KGF2, or lower castes, dominant castes and Muslims uniting in their worship of the daiva in Kantara. Their response to criticism is polite silence, they say. Says Kirangandur,“During the making of the film itself we are mindful of what will become controversial and this prevents us from wasting time and effort. ” This year they will venture into Malayalam cinema with Dhoomam, a thriller set in the tobacco industry, directed by Pawan Kumar, starring Fahadh Faasil and Aparna Balamurali, and Raghu Thata, their first Tamil movie, starring Keerthy Suresh.
Popular culture in 2022 was not kind to rich people. Taking inspiration from the dark satire against rich people’s greed and the middle class’ aspiration in Bong Joon-ho’s 2019 Parasite, Western entertainment made it its business to laugh at those who have an excess of everything. From the instructions to models in Ruben Östlund’s Cannes hit, Triangle of Sadness to the idiotic tech billionaire in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Netflix), the target was clear: silly rich people are ruling our world and they need to stop. Hollywood also clearly divides the world into those who have money and those who don’t, but who with their “fake smiles and hidden agendas” want to relieve the rich of some. This is most clearly articulated in The Menu, where the restaurant, run by maverick chef Julian Slowik played by Ralph Fiennes divides the world into the sh** shovellers and those who employ them. His exotic restaurant on a remote island is firmly placed in the former category of those who serve. Call it post-Covid consciousness or a sudden attack of socialism but the only kinds of billionaires Hollywood likes now are idiotic ones, like Miles Bron in Glass Onion or the media billionaire heir Kendall Roy in the HBO hit Succession, the series that started the toxic billionaire trend. The rich are no longer aspirational; like the brutish Logan Roy’s children, they are almost to be pitied for their pointless existence and their ineffectual bids for power. No one wants them, beginning with their father and ending with the government. They usually spend their days wallowing in illegal substances or in giving themselves ego massages. Much like the wealthy guests at the White Lotus resort in Sicily, who in Season Two are as consumed by their own excesses as the White Lotus guests in Season One. As Aubrey Plaza’s Harper says to her newly rich partner Ethan (Will Sharpe) about their Old Money friends: “Is that what happens when you’re rich for too long? Your brain just atrophies?” On streaming shows and movies, atrophied billionaires are everywhere. In a post-Covid world of greater inequality, perhaps that is the only way to make poverty bearable.
Scene and Heard
Superstar demands are known for being unreasonable but this one takes the biscuit. A young superstar has just acquired a toy for himself, a green laser torch, which he uses to turn the spotlight on anyone who may be violating a carefully laid down code of conduct around him. No eye contact and no talking while the star talks. His entourage alone has 10 members so that is quite a handful of people to monitor, including a person whose job it is to play just the right song for the actor to get into the mood.