Dear Rakshit, an early morning BookMyShow notification triggered a train of thoughts in my head. “Will Rakshit win again?” was the message.
It was the ticketing company’s way of alerting movie buffs to the release of your magnum opus ‘Avane Srimannarayana’ (ASN). Does a ‘Rakshit Shetty film’ need a reminder? Do Kannada film buffs need to be persuaded at all when it comes to your films?
You won’t deny you are one of the few in the industry with a 50 per cent advantage even before the release of a film. However, come Friday, which Rakshit Shetty is going to win? The writer or the actor? Or the ‘filmmaker’?
‘ASN’ is directed by debutant Sachin Ravi. Do we care for this bit of information? Rakshit, once you are involved in a film, it’s your film, irrespective of what role you take credit for. You are often accused of hijacking the role of the director. People have pointed fingers at the great Kamal Haasan on the same grounds.
The gargantuan hit ‘Kirik Party’ was a ‘Rakshit Shetty film’ until its original director Rishab Shetty, your best friend, came out of your shadows and made the remarkable ‘Sarkari.Hi.Pra.Shaale’. Even with ‘ASN’ -- acted and co-written by you -- it’s undeniable that you are the face of the film. This isn’t a complaint. It only speaks of your knowledge of cinema. Your relationship with your team-mates shows how highly you are regarded in the industry.
And we dare not whine about the attention you receive. In my recent discussion on Kannada cinema with college students from non-Karnataka backgrounds, I raised a question: Who is the future of Kannada cinema? I got one answer across the board: Rakshit Shetty.
It shows you have understood the pulse of the audience, especially the youth. That’s why there exists a ‘Kirik Party’ today. You figured out what audiences were looking for after your directorial debut ‘Ulidavaru Kandante’ tanked. It’s amusing what fans and cineastes say about it now. They borrow a famous dialogue from The Dark Knight Rises: ‘I am sorry I failed you.’
You attribute the box-office failure of ‘Ulidavaru Kandante’ to your inexperience. Some blame it on self-indulgence. The dismal box-office collections notwithstanding, you gained ‘your’ audience. Your maturity was what impressed them. You dream big. It’s a big positive, especially in an industry that is mostly looking for shortcuts.
Rakshit, it’s intriguing that your body of work is small. You have acted in eight films (three of them eminently forgettable) since your debut a decade ago. The bigger grouse is that you have made just one film as director. True, quality takes time but we need a consistent flow of work to flaunt our films proudly to non-Kannadigas. Is this too much to ask for?
It’s great to see that you are calm despite the massive hype generated by ‘ASN’. Is it confidence? Or are you good at hiding your anxiety? We will know soon. All said and done, it’s good to have you back on screen. From the irascible Richie in ‘Ulidavaru Kandante’ to the classy Ricky in ‘Ricky’ to the excellent Karna in ‘Kirik Party’, you remain etched in our hearts, even if you make us wait.
We hope ‘ASN’ meets our expectations. ‘Idu charitre shrushtisuva avathara’ is one of the lines from the film’s song ‘Hands up’. We indeed want ‘ASN’ to create history. If it doesn’t, we only hope it doesn’t break you. We want you to come back stronger with ‘Punyakoti.’ Wishing you all the best, Rakshit, and yes, the tickets are booked. Time for the show to begin.