It may not be an exaggeration to say Om Sai Prakash is the only director in Sandalwood to have the privilege of directing a maximum number of films in a career that has spanned more than 25 years. At 18, he took a train from his home town Phirangipuram, Guntur District in Andhra Pradesh to Chennai in Tamil Nadu to realize his dream of becoming a director. After working as an associate director and script writer for 16 years for Telugu films in Chennai, Om Sai Prakash shifted base to Bengaluru in 1987. Om Sai Prakash made his debut as a full-fledged director with Kannada films Muthinantha Manushya and Saahasa Veera. With the success of Thayigobba Tharle Maga in 1989, there was no looking back for Om Sai Prakash in the Kannada film industry.
You have launched your 98th film as a director on July 25. You are also making preparations to direct 99th and 100th in the near future. What is the secret of your success?
I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be a film director for the last 27 years. Being a no-nonsense person, I found no difficulty in directing 97 films so far. My 98th film was launched on July 25th at the BGS Medical College in Bengaluru. Sai Kumar is the hero of this film.
Can you elaborate on the theme of your latest film?
It is based on burning contemporary issues such as drugs and terrorism. A Muslim father wants his son to become a militant but the mother opposes it and finally the boy also refuses to oblige his father. The other issue is how youth are becoming addicts to marijuana and how some of them go to any extent to get marijuana. Sai Kumar plays the role of a police officer while Disha Poovaiah plays the character of a college student. Its shooting will be done in and around Bengaluru in a single schedule.
You are from Andhra Pradesh but earned name and fame in Karnataka. How did it happen?
I happened to work as an associate director for a Telugu film Sardar Darmanna in 1987. Sahasa Simha Vishnuvardhan acted in this film with Telugu actors Krishnama Raju and Mohan Babu. Impressed by my work, Vishnuvardhan used to insist that I come to Bengaluru to direct Kannada films. I also happened to work as an associate and script writer for Telugu film Satyam Sivam Sundaram in which Vishnuvardhan played a key role. Vishnuvardhan’s encouragement and support made me to come to Bengaluru. I had the opportunity to direct two Kannada films – Muthinantha Manushya and Saahasa Veera – in 1987. Vinod Alva played the role of the hero in Saahasa Veera while Tiger Prabhakar played the lead in Muthinantha Manushya.
You are known as a no-nonsense director and role-model for prospective directors but you took the extreme step of attempting to commit suicide. What prompted you to do that?
It was an unpleasant incident. I have repented for that. I took that extreme step due to the disappointment over my failure not only as a director, but also a producer. I invested Rs 5 crore to make Devaru kotta Thangi in which Shivarajkumar and Radhika played the key roles. I had high expectations from that film but it failed at the box office. After that unfortunate incident, I was idle for more than a year.
You are known as a producers’ director. Did any producer come forward to help you when you were in the hospital?
I always maintain cordial relations with all producers. I never had a dispute with any producer regarding my remuneration. At the same time I never felt the need of availing any producer’s help while in hospital because my wife paid the hospital bill. Some producers wanted to help me but my wife refused to avail their help. My wife is my sole supporter.
You said that you were away from films for more than a year. How did you make a comeback?
Chandrika, who acted as a heroine in Thayigobba Tharle Maga, encouraged me a lot. In 2010, Chandrika asked me to direct Sree Naga Shakthi. She agreed to become producer for this film. Shruthi and Ramkumar played the lead roles. Later, Sri Balagangadharnatha Swamiji was kind enough to ask me to direct the Kannada film Sri Kshethra Adichunchanagiri. Later I had an opportunity to direct the Komal starrer Nandeesha. My other film was Garbada Gudi. Malshree starrer Ganga became a huge success at the box-office. The other film Mana Mechida Bangaru did not fare well at the box-office.
As a producer you have lost a huge amount. It means that you have lost whatever you earned by directing more than 90 films in 27 years. Do you have any regrets for producing the Rs 5-crore budget film Devaru kotta thangi?
It is true that I lost everything by producing Devaru kotta thangi but I have no regrets. I am of the opinion that I brought nothing while coming to Bengaluru. I dedicate all my success or failure to Shirdi Sai Baba and Bhagawan Satya Sai Baba. They are everything for me. They have blessed me all these years.
Which are your most successful films? Who will act in your 99th and 100th films?
There are many successful films including Thayigobba Tharle Maga, Policena Hendathi, Golmaal Radhakrishna, Gruha Pravesha, Kitturina Huli, Lion Jagapathi Rao, Readymade Ganda, Tavarumane Udugore, Chikkejamanru, Malashree Mamashree, Bhagawan Sri Sai Baba, Muddina Mava, Aathanka, Thavarige Baa Thangi, Anna Thangi and Thavarina Siri.
I wanted to make Bangarada Vamsha with Shivarajkumar and Radhika as the 99th film but so far my efforts have been in vain. Some preparations were made for this in 2013 but had to be cancelled due to some reasons. Now, I am discussing with Gokul Films to make my 99th film with Shivarajkumar in the lead role. I am confident of getting Shivarajkumar’s nod for this. My 100th film will be Mahabharatha in which almost all the actors who acted in my earlier films will be acting.