'A Kannada film that's global'

'A Kannada film that's global'

Rakshit Shetty, back three years after Kirik Party with adventure comedy Avane Srimannarayana, explains how he wrote the film and got under the skin of his character

Many ask whether I regret not having any release for three years. My last film, ‘Kirik Party,’ came out in 2016. To most people, it seems I have had no work, but let me tell you I have been working non-stop. The amount of learning I have gained over these three years is huge.

‘Avane Srimannarayana,’ releasing in five languages on December 27, called for extensive research. We worked on it for more than a year. Right from the scripting to the execution, ‘Avane Srimannarayana’ has offered invaluable lessons. I realised that writing the script and scouting for locations go hand-in-hand. Being involved in post-production also gave me new insights into filmmaking.

Quality over quantity

People have great expectations from me after ‘Ulidavaru Kandante’, ‘Godhi Banna Sadharana Maikattu’ and ‘Kirik Party.’ I was asked if I felt the pressure to deliver. I didn’t feel any pressure because I take it slow. I want to enjoy the process of making a film. I don’t work on something if I don’t connect to it.  I wanted to give the audience a film that was better than ‘Kirik...’ and that required a lot of planning.

I have always chosen quality over quantity. I am choosy about my projects because I believe money, though important, is not the first priority. I want to work on projects that offer new perspectives and inspire me to work harder. 

Coming to ‘Avane Srimannarayana’, you will love the lead character. When I started writing the film, I wanted the character to have traits similar to Anil Kapoor’s in ‘Ram Lakhan.’ He played a fun-loving and intelligent guy. He was flexible with his emotions. I wanted to bring that trait into Srimannarayana. I was also inspired by Jack Sparrow in ‘The Pirates of the Caribbean.’ I had secretly nursed a dream to play such a character someday. I have added some of his characteristics to Srimannarayana. The swagger and coolness come from there.

This film requires Srimannarayana to switch emotions quickly. He doesn’t really have the time to stand and stare. He has to think on his feet. Since I wrote the character, I knew exactly where to make the switch. I took about three days to slip into the character. And that, it was a cakewalk. 

Big moment for me 

It has been a long-cherished dream to take Kannada cinema to a global audience and make a film that caters to the whole world. ‘Avane Srimannarayana’ has taken me closer to achieving that dream.

My next project ‘Punyakoti’ is vast and ambitious. I can’t wait to start shooting for it. The film is set in ancient India. It is a fictional narrative that touches on present-day politics.

(Rakshit is an actor, director and scriptwriter) 
(As told to Nina C George)

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