Actor-director Rakshith Shetty says films should be encouraged for festivals

In an attempt to bridge the widening gap between commercial and art cinema in Sandalwood, actor-director Rakshith Shetty came up with the concept of chapter-wise narration of a murder in Ulidvaru Kandante, released last week.

Having come to the coastal districts for the promotion of the film, Udupi-lad Mr. Shetty addressed press conferences in Udupi and Mangalore, and also spoke to Mohit M. Rao in Mangalore. Here are the excerpts:

The film deviates from mainstream formula. How is it faring at the box office?

The film is doing well in multiplexes in Bangalore and Mysore, while collections in north Karnataka, and in single-screen theatres are not good.

One reason could be that in smaller towns, the exposure to foreign films is low, and so they are not used to slow-paced movies. They expect an entertainer.

The dialect (coastal accent) could also be a problem, while the sync-sound technique (on the spot dubbing) is leading to audio problems in single-screened theatres that have outdated sound systems.

However, we will recover the budget of Rs. 2 crore within two weeks.

The film is also being screened to full houses at Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai; five places in the United States, and soon in Dubai, Sharjah and Singapore.

Some critics have also panned the film…

Some have criticized it, others have appreciated it.

Critics have questioned why there was no romance, or open-ended plot and even the complications in plot. It is as if they expect a simple plot with action, romance, entertainment, comedy.

I have tried to include mainstream elements – albeit realistically – in Richie’s (the character he plays) chapter. I was not thinking of an audience while making the film, but I did want to make a film I could take to the film festival circuits.

Are you going to continue experimentation? Is the industry ready for art cinema?

Funding was not a problem as the Simple Agi Ondh Love Story (his previous film that was hit) team was working on this.

But next time, I will reduce the experimentation by a notch as the response has not been encouraging enough.

The market for Kannada art films still needs to come up, for this at least seven experimental film makers should be in the industry. This will ensure that one movie is released every month. And, like in Bollywood, there needs to be production houses that encourage films for the film festival circuit. I have hope that things will change in five years time.

Moreover, the censor policy creates a bad environment for writers, where any political or even slang words don’t make it on screen.

Future plans?

My next two Kannada films are Vaastuprakara, around the son of a Vaastu expert, which will complete production in June, and Ricky, dealing with Naxalism.

I will get back to direction after two years, and probably with a film shot in both Kannada and Hindi so the market and budget can be bigger.

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