Rakshit Shetty: Not in a rush to go pan-India for every film

Rakshit Shetty is headlining Sapta Sagaradaache Ello (SSE), Hemanth M Rao’s upcoming revival of the classic romance genre.
A shot from Sapta Sagaradaache Ello.
A shot from Sapta Sagaradaache Ello.

Rakshit Shetty is headlining Sapta Sagaradaache Ello (SSE), Hemanth M Rao’s upcoming revival of the classic romance genre.

Who better than Rakshit, who is also doubling up as the producer, to answer whether Hemanth has actually fulfilled his vision?

“The film itself is a poetic journey, transporting us to a bygone era. The concise beauty of Pallavi Anu Pallavi was a poetic experience. We seem to have veered away from crafting such films in today’s times. SSE has bridged this gap and emerged as a poetic story. Its fabric is woven with 80s and 90s hues, evident in the narrative’s ebb and flow and the enchanting love between Manu and Priya, which captures the distinct essence of that era,” says Rakshit.

When asked how different is Manu from the other roles he has played in his career, Rakshit says, “SSE holds a unique intensity, and it was a remarkable singular to explore that phase as an actor, and as a person. Manu offered an experience unlike any I’ve encountered before. Previous films, often those I’ve authored, lacked the profound depth found in Manu’s character. Hemanth’s growth as a writer shines through, particularly in the rich complexity of characters like Manu and Priya. In the realm of romantic films, Hemanth’s prowess is evident, stemming from his keen observations and distinct experiences. This role took me to new avenues and it was a truly novel experience.”

SSE is divided into two parts —Side A and Side B — and Rakshit describes the challenges and rewards of portraying the dual shades of his character, Manu. “In Side A, Manu is straightforward, while Side B delves into the intricacies of his personality,” says Rakshit revealing that he practiced meditation to prepare for the layered portrayal of Manu in Side B. Discussing the concept of using the two sides of a cassette to divide the film into two parts, Rakshit explained that certain scenes needed separate telling to reveal character depth. “Making the film in two parts was Hemanth’s initial idea, and we finalised the decision after shooting, especially at the editing desk,” he says.

With Kannada cinema going places now, does making a film that would reach a wider audience work on the minds of the filmmakers?

“Romance is a universally appealing theme, and success in Karnataka could naturally lead to expansion to other states. Though SSE was made as a Kannada film, we can’t confine a film ourselves. If cinema is meant to travel and audiences demand it, distributors will embrace it. We’re not in a rush for every film to go pan-India, nor do all films have that scope. We’re open to what could be groundbreaking. Let’s wait and see what destiny has in store for SSE. It’s crucial to establish a strong foothold in Karnataka first, and then the film can naturally find its audience in different states,” he asserts.
But there is no doubt that the Pan-Indian market is becoming a viable option, and audiences too are embracing content despite language barriers. “Today’s entertainment landscape is dynamic, with people engaging with content on OTT platforms and in theatres. Honestly, I believe SSE fits this ecosystem. Theatrical experiences are sought after, and there’s a shortage of films offering that unique cinematic experience. This film aims to fill that void and make an impact on the big screen.”

Does Rakshit feel a kind of pressure to consistently deliver a distinct experience in every film of his considering how audiences don’t expect the same thing from him twice?

“That’s a deliberate choice I made early in my career. Even in Simple Agi Ondhu Story, I portrayed three different shades within one film. With each project, I aimed to break preconceived notions tied to characters. I don’t view this as pressure; I relish it. Shattering audience expectations and my associated persona is something I enjoy. Over two years between films, people tend to identify more with characters than the person behind them. The next film must challenge that perception. For me, cinema is not just an art form; it’s a way of life. When I commit to a film, I fully immerse myself, delivering a holistic experience.” he says.

There is a newfound resurgence in Kannada cinema and its responses from across the country. How does Rakshit, an active member of the industry for the past decade, and an avid cinephile himself see this welcome change?

“Initially, there was a perception that ours was a smaller industry. I argued that scale isn’t only about size. A significant shift occurred—less reliance on remakes and more original content. New writers and directors explore uncharted territory. There’s more to explore, especially embracing diverse cultures. Our films transcend boundaries, yet we’re seen as small. That’s because Andhra has 2,500 theatres, and Karnataka, with three-fourth the population of Andhra Pradesh, has only 800 theatres, with at least 100 single screens closed. Thankfully, we have good multiplexes, but we need more theatres and diverse films. Thankfully, Karnataka’s multiculturalism lets us embrace various languages too,” concludes Rakshit.

Two-part love saga

Sapta Sagaradaache Ello is divided into two parts — Side A (September release) and Side B (October release) — and Rakshit describes the challenges and rewards of portraying the dual shades of his character, Manu, for which the actor practiced meditation

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