Yograj Bhat has taken the action route with his latest sports drama Garadi. It is arguably the first complete action film Bhat has tackled, although he has done blocks of them in films like Paramathma (2011) and Dana Kayonu (2016). “Watching our own film is the toughest,” the director quips in a conversation with Film Companion.
Watching his own films is tougher than making one or even talking about it, he says. “I have watched Garadi about 160 times. Yesterday, we were mixing sound and I watched it for the 161st time. I have written it down."
The film stars newcomers Yashas Surya, Sujay Belur, and Sonal Monteiro, while also featuring stalwarts like BC Patil and P Ravi Shankar, and a cameo by Darshan Thoogudeepa.
Noted actor BC Patil features in the wrestling sports drama as the mentor of Surya’s character. The actor has worked with genre stalwarts such as Sunil Kumar Desai and Rajendra Singh Babu. He joins Yograj Bhat not just as an actor, but also as the producer of Garadi, backing the film under his Kourava Productions banner.
Speaking about the criteria based on which he chooses films to produce, Patil says, “We all use our imagination when we listen to a narration. That imagination should remain intact after listening to the whole story. Only then it means this story will be fixed in the audiences' minds as well. If we have just heard a story and do not remember any of the scenes, then there is no point.”
Garadi features Surya and Belur as kusthi players, and is set in the streets of old Mysore, where traditional wrestling is practiced. Surya says it was physically tough to prepare for the role, as he reminisces how the team filmed in the heat of Badami for seventy days. “The toughest part was shooting on the mud grounds. The matti will give us strength but also tire us a lot because it’s very hard to fight on it. If one goes to a gym, there will be weights, and if it's a normal fight, we will hit people. But in traditional kusthi, we have to pick up a person who weighs at least 70-80kgs and throw them to the ground. It’s not easy.”
Bhat has been in the industry for the past twenty years and has made some of the landmark films of the industry such as Mungaru Male (2006), Gaalipata (2008), and Paramathma (2011). While he has made films with the biggest of stars in the industry, he has also created stars out of actors like Ganesh and Diganth. And so he is no stranger to working with new comers like Surya and Belur.
“I don’t let the newcomers go until they teach me something,” he says when asked if he learns anything while working with newcomers, “They’re all newcomers only by name. They have vast knowledge within themselves. They ask so many questions. These two cribbed about the hardships and torture of wrestling training. But they seemed to have undergone more by coming to the rehearsal sessions; Belur used to keep asking me why we were saying the same lines 30 times.”