Inspiring Stories
A collection of personal Interviews with celebrated leaders, entrepreneurs, corporate honchos or any success stories.

Suman Kittur - The Kannada Film Director Makes It To Great Heights From A Very Modest Start

"Patience is God. You have to worship that. Today all of them are so proud of me. My mom feels so proud about me that she talks about my story to everyone in my hometown. Give a chance to others to feel proud about you and that is what shall make your life complete." says this director from Karnataka Film Industry.
Suman Kittur is a film maker who has a rich experience in the industry. Her debut film Slum bala as a director was appreciated and loved by the people very much. Being from a very small township, this lady today proves to be an example for millions of people who say that they can't do it because of their family restrictions.

Suman was born and brought up in a small town near Mysore. She doesn't belong to a luxurious family background. In her town, sending girls for education in itself was a big deal. She was brought in a place where till date there is no sufficient power supply. There were not enough facilities.

Her recent film, "Edegaarike" went on to become a great hit. It proved that even a lady could become a successful director. More on it.. Let's hear from her.
suman kittur,film maker
Q: Let's begin with what we all know is your life - Cinema.

Suman Kittur (SK): The moment you talk about cinema, it is pretty time consuming. It demands a lot of time. From the time you get the story till you release the movie, you never have a count. To make a movie - whether it is a good one or a bad one, whatever the case is- two things it definitely demands. First thing is time and the second thing is energy. Cinema is like a baby. You can't tell it to be awake at the convenience of its mother. You need to be available for it all the time. You can't say what it might demand at what time. You have to give it all your time. It demands a lot of your time and energy. It requires a lot of stamina and physical strength. Directing is a day and night work. You will feel very restless. The physical structure of women itself is like that, which makes them feel tired. May be that is why there are very less lady directors in the industry. Easier than this is standing in front of the camera. I don't mean easy, I mean you need a different kind of mindset for that. It's pretty difficult to face so many people at the sets. So many minds, you really can't say who's thinking what of you. Like I said, you need a different kind of mindset, you need preparation. More than anything you need a family atmosphere that supports you.

Direction is pretty difficult, especially for ladies. It's the gut feeling. That's a huge responsibility on shoulders. Every day you have to learn new things. You have to indulge in a lot of things that you never would have even thought of. It is indeed pretty challenging. You should start thinking in an entirely new direction. Presence of mind, your speed of thoughts, firm and quick decisions.. everything matters here. Every second matters. You just should know how to play with it all. I would say that more and more females should enter the movie industry. They should also contrib-ute. I am not telling they should enter the direction or the acting part of it alone. Today, technology has advanced very much and there are multiple things involved in making a movie. They can work in technical teams. They can be experts at dubbing, they can do editing, they can be a part of designing and so on. It might not happen all of a sudden, but it is indeed my dream to see more and more women entering this industry. Until we try something we can never know its hard part and as well as its easy side. Every field has its pros and cons. And I would want all you ladies reading, at least some of you who know that they can explore: Please give it a try!

Q: Very well said Suman! When we talk about the field called direction, we see so many people entering the field every now and then. But we don't see them all in the list of successful directors. Many directors when they enter direction field, they will give two three hits in a row. But later there would be continuous flops. What is the reason behind this?

SK: Sometimes even makers of movies cannot predict the result. As you said, if the initial movies taken in hand go hit, the maker gets more confi-dence. A lot of times, he/she ends up becoming over confident. They start thinking that people will take anything they present to them. May be the trend that made them climb this ladder of success might fail at times in keeping them at the top. So if you don't try out new things, if you stop experimenting, if you stick to a trend, you might end up giving flops. Basically the creator even after trying to set a new trend every time, might fail. He doesn't know exactly to stick to what at times. We can't study the market easily, no matter how big a research we do. Sometimes it clicks and sometimes it doesn't. It's all a part of the game. Till date one thing that any maker couldn't decide prior making a movie is the likes and dislikes of the people.

We have made three classes in the theatres. You find officers coming, you find housewives, auto drivers, cleaners, politicians, daily wagers and many categories of people coming and watching the same screen. That is the power what cinema has and that is why I consider it as my life. Imagine its power to have gathered and attracted people of diversified background under one roof. It's a wonder indeed. It's magic. It is divine. There is no partiality. Everyone's treated equally. There's no difference between rich and poor, men and women, tastes and preferences of people.. Cinema has the power of bringing everyone together in a hall without any discrimination. One place where you can see all kinds of people on the earth gathering is a theatre and that is why I respect this industry a lot.

Sometimes when a film-maker gets a subject in hand, if he/she gets enough support from the environment in different ways, only then will he take up the project and make a film. For example, "Edegaarike"(name of a film directed by Ms. Suman Kittur). Why Edegaarike is successful today is because the environment supported us really well with many aspects added to it. There are hardly any movies that are novel based these days.
What happened here was, when we announced that we are making a movie of this novel, people who had read the novel started talking to the people who hadn't, about the novel. So this created curiosity amongst the viewers and they wanted to see how this can come as a movie, as it is completely a new and different topic. There are so many films that come to theatres every year. All of them would have at least four songs, two fights. That's the common thing. But the new thing what they found in our film was that there were no songs in the movie. In fact the viewers, themselves said that the songs were not required. It was a new way of looking at the cinema industry. We started experimenting on this. The first one with which we started experimenting was "Aa dinagalu". Again to break that, we only had to come. Aa dinagalu at least had two songs but Edegaarike has only one. See this kind of experiment works very rarely. Not every time it clicks. You really can't predict. Nagathihalli Chandrashekhar sir says- "As and when I take up new cinema in hand, I change myself completely. I try to get into the film. I always stay and stand at a student's position. The moment you think you are the master, you lose the game. Try to learn new things and adopt it in your movies."

Q: How were your childhood days? How is it responsible for your achievement today?

SK: To tell you frankly, there was no concept called education at all in the place where I spent my childhood days. There was no power supply. I remember sitting under a lamp and studying almost every single day. I belong to a farmer's family. Along with dogs, cats, donkeys, cows, sheep we also were living. Those days were very different for me. The experience was pretty unique. The best part was that I used to always take decisions independently. The best part about my parents was that they never used to restrict me. I could go wherever I wanted to and was free to communicate to anybody. But I have definitely got beaten for a lot of other things. I used to love my dad a lot. The thing that astonishes me till date is, though we hardly were encouraged to study, I still was very keen in reading more and more books. Something or the other I was into all the time. I used to love studying a lot. This impressed my dad a lot. So he used to encourage me always. My dad was a "mahaan guru"(great teacher) for me. I was very stubborn then and always wanted to go with him everywhere. So he used to assign me the work of counting stars in the night. Every day I had to do that. I used to fall asleep while counting every night. So this became a part of my routine. Now I can derive the lesson that he taught me because of that work. It subconsciously helped me develop patience. So like that every deed that was assigned taught me great lessons of life. It shaped my personality I would say.

I remember it really well. We were not in that good a position. Except for food and clothing, we were not introduced to any other luxuries of life at all. Same carpet, same pillow every day.. sleep, eat and that is it. As I said already I was very stubborn and I used to demand a lot of things. One situation I can never forget. Under an old temple on rocky surface fighting severe cold and hot sun there were some families staying. While passing by that road every time my dad used to show them to me and say. "Dear.. see them once. You at least have clothes to wear, see they don't even have that. You have at least a good house to sleep and take shelter; they are cheated of even that. So you should not ask for everything you see. Look at them. Think about it once. You are a good girl right?". I remember him telling me this. Today he is not there. But he always had this belief that Suman will achieve something in her life. He could see something in me that I could not then. By the time I achieved he was not alive. He would have felt very proud and happy if he was alive.

They had this child marriage practice in our town. My sisters got married pretty ear-ly. I remember requesting my dad. I was just 12 years old and I am the last child of my parents. The situation was pretty scary. So after me requesting so much, finally, my dad sent me to his sister's place in Coorg. I went with a different dream alto-gether. In that beautiful environment of Coorg I thought, I will get a different kind of education. I had a deep desire of studying further. I had a dream of studying IAS. Even my dad used to say that.

I went to my aunt's place for a reason. But they made me do something else. They started making me work at their place mercilessly. I had to do and was helpless. Somehow I wanted to finish my 2nd PU. I couldn't have told my dad also about that as he would have taken me back to home town and got me married . So somehow I completed my 2 years of PUC and came to Bangalore.

There, I met Sridhar sir, which was the biggest turning point of my life. He con-siders me as his daughter. Looking at my desire towards knowledge, he prom-ised my dad of taking my responsibility. My dad always used to say then- "I am happy that you are in a safer hand. Now I am not scared of even death." Unfor-tunately he expired after that incident.

I feel not all girls are so lucky as much as I was. My life went in the hands of one teacher(my father) to another great teacher of my life(Sridhar sir).He taught me almost everything that life demanded. He filled courage in me. He studied my potential. He found my talent and my abilities. I started learning films and all things related to a film. He made me read more and more books. He was my university. Looking at my work in the film "Aa dinagalu", he gave me the film "Slum Bala" to handle. That time I told him that I still have to learn and study this industry. He told me to learn while doing. Learn practically. Experience should come to you by your work. I went on learning and today, the film "Edegaarike" acts as a testimony to my direction abilities. This film got appreciated. The whole industry today is talking about this film. This is a new experiment and certainly new experience as well. But this journey made me develop immense patience.

Q: Didn't you feel like taking a short cut in life? Not because you wanted to en-ter though. But this poverty makes or provokes any one to take a wrong route. Somehow people want to come out of it and that makes them do these things. Has that happened with you as well? Did you face that situation?

SK: No. That mere thought also never entered my mind. I don't know from where did that come from but I always had this belief that Education always saves us. When you learn and study well, it saves you somehow. Anywhere you go, it shields you against all the odds. I started learning well after that. I started studying really well. Especially Kannada. The moment I saw any Kannada book or newspaper I used to pick that and start reading. I never knew any other language apart from Kannada. I had to work so hard to understand the meaning of other languages, including English. I never knew even to read the subtitles of the movie. But the passion towards learning made me learn. I used to write every word fifty times and try and understand the meaning of the same.
Your message to our readers.

SK: Especially to all the girls I would want to say, without hurting yourself and without hurting others(even parents), with even the limited resources that you have, you can do wonders. Outside world always looks colorful and more amazing. But if we can't use what we have, we have no right to even think about what is not there. Your decisions should not hurt anyone.

When I had to leave my home town and come to Bangalore to explore, I requested people at home to allow me with this much freedom and if I fail to achieve, I shall come back soon. I never made any issue out of it nor fought with anyone. I used every single thing I had in hand and that's when I went to explore the world. My mom was not ready to send me. There was a person by name Subbanna in our town. My mom used to believe in his words a lot and used to respect his words. So I went to him and requested him to tell my mom to allow me to go out and explore. He did the same and my mom agreed. You always will find a way to sort the situation out without hurting anyone. I chose that way. Patience is God. You have to worship that. Today all of them are so proud of me. My mom feels so proud about me that she talks about my story to everyone in my hometown. Give a chance to others to feel proud about you and that is what shall make a person's life complete.

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on February 2013.

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