Rakshit Shetty opens a big market for Kannada movies with Avane Srimannarayana

Rakshit Shetty always wanted to be an actor but little did he know that by 2020 he will be in the league of a new wave film-makers who are set to change the face of Kannada cinema.

Almost a year after the release of KGF: Chapter 1, Rakshit Shetty's Avane Srimannarayana (ASN) has a wide release in Kerala. He admits that the success of KGF and Baahubali has made him to take his movies to the new markets. Rakshit spoke to Onmanorama during his recent film promotion visit to Kochi.

From an engineer to superstar in Kannada movies, can you describe your journey so far?

I did not have any Godfathers in the industry. When I came to Bangalore after my graduation in engineering, I knew that I should start from the scratch. Hence I started acting in short films. Gradually, I felt the need to do some meaty roles to make a profile. I thought I should write for myself for a character that I wanted. After writing the script, I thought it would be better to direct my own movie. My first project as an actor was Nam Areal Ondina. But I earned recognition with the movie Ulidavaru Kandanthe. In the meantime, my brother too joined in the journey.

You took three years to complete Avane Srimannarayana. Now you are getting good responses. What's your feeling?

It feels great to get good reviews. We have been working on the movie for the last three years and now every department of the project is getting praises. It is worth the effort. When the script was done, I wondered if we could actually shoot the film as on paper. Right from location hunting to creating sets, the project demanded time and budget. The entire team has worked passionately. Moreover, it doesn't matter how many movies you have done, my focus has been to deliver good movies.

The trailer and the characters of Avane Srimannarayana (ASN) are quite interesting and engrossing. How did it take shape?

Before starting ASN, I wanted to experiment as a film-maker. I wrote the script, drafted it and rewrote it. The whole process took more than a year. The shoot went on for 200 days. The post-production took six months. The film is set in a fictional village called Amaravathi, which is ruled by a set of dacoits. And there arrives a police officer who tries to solve problem. It is a simple story that entertains viewers from the very first frame to the last.

Your movies are being remade into different languages. What do you think about remakes?

When a movie's subject is closely connected to a region, you can't dub it. Then remake is the only option. If the story is worth telling, then why not? A remake isn’t a bad thing but it is pointless when you have access to the original.

Those who are working on the re-make should talk to the writer and director of the original movie. It is better to treat the subject differently than the original.

Actors are getting pan-Indian appeal, and regional is the new national now. What do you think about the prospects of regional films?

When we cut the trailer of ASN, we were very keen to release it outside Karnataka. If the subject is universal, you can definitely take it to pan-India. That's why we mentioned in the trailer that ASN is a 'southern odd fiction'.

There was a time when Kannada industry never grew beyond Karnataka because there were more remakes from other languages. But of late, things are changing. We do create universal subjects which we feel could connect with people from other states. If ASN turns out to be a success in other states, we in Kannada industry will get to make more big budget movies.

You are a writer, actor, director and producer. Which among them you find most challenging?

Writing is definitely the most challenging role. Well, every department has its own challenges. Moreover, it depends on each film.

In ASN, I spent more time on writing. Writing was not a challenge in Kirik Party (a movie which Rakshit wrote and acted). I had directed Ulidavaru Kandante and it was not easy to play the character.

How do you view the advent of digital platforms?

Cinema changes every day. There are two sets of audience now – those who go to theatres and those who depend upon digital platforms. Both sections ensure growth of the industry.

You and Nivin Pauly are good friends...

Yes. When I came here for ASN, he had personally come to support. I am yet to hear his words about the movie.

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