Girgit spins Tulu to new heights

Blockbuster success of movie makes director toast of the coast

It is a dream come true,” gushes Radio Jockey Roopesh Shetty whose directorial debut in Tulu ‘Girgit’ (Spin) has broken multiple box office records.

‘Girgit’ is the 109th film from the Tulu stable and the second such (after ‘Katapady Kattappa’, released in March) to complete 100 days in 2019.

“The film hit theatres across Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts on August 23. It was a do-or-die attempt for me,” says Roopesh Shetty, whose previous seven films, starring him in lead roles, bombed at the box office.

The multilingual actor informs Showtime that ‘Girgit’ set a record by completing 100 days in seven theatres, including multiplexes in Mangaluru, Udupi, Manipal, Karkala and Moodbidri. It was the first Tulu film to run to packed houses for two weeks in Mysuru and for five weeks in 11 theatres in Bengaluru. It was also released in New Delhi, Goa, Mumbai and Gujarat, among other places.

‘Girgit’ is coastalwood’s highest-grossing film ever. It has made eight times more money than the previous Tulu blockbuster. “The final figures will be made public after working out the sales of dubbing, digital and TV rights to a Mumbai-based firm,” says a beaming Roopesh.

Roopesh’s success comes after a lot of sweat. Opportunities did not come knocking on the doors, he says. “I created them by anchoring programmes, making two music albums, becoming a radio jockey and so on.” A career in the film industry was more challenging than he had thought. After a string of flops, he didn’t want to be labelled as an unlucky actor and hence, decided to start from scratch.

Roopesh wrote the story, built a team and decided that ‘Girgit’ will be his debut film as director. It took six months to finalise the screenplay with Vineeth Kumar. The film faced anxious moments after its release, with the Mangalore Bar Association (MBA), offended by some court scenes, succeeded in getting a temporary stay order against the screening of the film.
However, the non-confrontational attitude of Roopesh helped in the amicable settlement of case.” We had no option but comply with the wishes of the advocates,” he said.

He recollects begging nearly 1,000 contacts in his cellphone to watch the film a day prior to its release. “And the next day, my phone was flooded with calls seeking tickets due to packed halls,” he says.

Roopesh says there is a sense of responsibility now that the cinegoers’ expectations have gone up after the success of the film. “It is my desire to direct and act in a good Tulu film every year,” he says.

15 and counting: Girgit’s foreign foray
‘Girgit’ was screened in 15 foreign countries. “It is the first film from Karnataka to have completed 50 days in Dubai. It is also the first to be screened in Kuwait for two weeks. Be it Bangkok or Nigeria, the film has run to packed halls wherever it was released. Next, we plan to take ‘Girgit’ to Canada, South Africa and Australia, which have a sizable Tulu-speaking population,” says Roopesh Shetty.

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