Rakshit Shetty: I was destined to do 777 Charlie
Rakshit Shetty speaks about the evolution of the Kannada film industry, the need for a good release at the right time, and why 777 Charlie is a universal film
Rakshit Shetty is a man in no hurry. Since breaking into the collective consciousness with Kirik Party (2016), he has headlined just two films — Avane Srimannarayana (2019) and the upcoming 777 Charlie (2022). While the actor-filmmaker has produced films and been in cameos, Rakshit doesn't really believe in being bound by the idea of "time" in a world that qualifies quantity over quality. "I am not here to compete with anyone. As long as I'm making films, and there is a market for those films, and they make enough money to help me make more films, I am the happiest person," says Rakshit.
Going by the first reactions from the premieres that have been happening across the country, Rakshit Shetty is not just happy but is also confident that the adventure drama will be a sure-shot winner. The film, which took four years to make, marks the directorial debut of Rakshit's erstwhile associate, Kiranraj K. This is the second time the actor has entrusted directorial responsibilities with one of his assistants after Sachin Ravi, who directed Avane Srimannarayana. "As an actor, I can’t write and direct every film. Having worked with Kiranraj and knowing his passion, I knew he is a dedicated filmmaker. When such passion exists in a director, and the script is strong too, the film will come out great," says Rakshit, who continues to have a twinkle in his eyes when talking about 777 Charlie. "777 Charlie's central plot point of a dog coming into a human's life to change him was perfect. As a producer, I knew it would be a good film, and as an actor, I think I was destined to do 777 Charlie. I have watched the film multiple times, and it still continues to affect me every single time. Even if 80 per cent of the audience have a similar experience, it is going to be a big film," says Rakshit Shetty ahead of the film's release on June 10.
777 Charlie boasts of a universal appeal, and for a filmmaker like Rakshit, who is known to attract the masses with content-based subjects, the film is bound to open newer markets for him. "That's the liberty the writers get when they are working with me. I should also credit the people of Karnataka, who have made me believe that genre films will be accepted by the masses. As an actor, I always want to expand the market so that I get to make my next film on a bigger canvas. Having said that, it is not that every film has to be made with a huge budget," he says. Just like his previous film, Avane Srimannarayana, Rakshit is planning to release 777 Charlie in multiple languages. "Not every film has to be pan-Indian," says a pensive Rakshit, who is sure that there are indeed a few films that have such a market, including his next, Punyakoti. "In fact, 777 Charlie could be a direct English film too. A dog is a star everywhere, and if you can connect with Dharma's character and journey, you will love the film."
At present, Rakshit is sticking to his comfort zone, especially when it comes to the people he associates with. While he is sure about it being just a coincidence, Rakshit says, "I have collaborated twice with Hemanth M Rao and Rishab Shetty. But otherwise, I have associated with mostly debutants. It isn't that I prefer to be in my own circle, but just that the people who have worked with me bring content with good potential. I haven't been able to connect with the stories that have come from filmmakers outside my circle, also... when I have the right kind of people with me, why should I look outside?" he explains.
From the glimpses we have had of 777 Charlie, it is clear that this must not have been an easy film to make. Rakshit's Dharma seems to go through a rollercoaster of emotions, and this is a far cry from some of his recent roles. "Being an actor is fascinating, isn't it?" asks Rakshit, who goes on a wonderful monologue about the perks of being an actor. "I find being an actor to be very interesting. I get to experience a lot of emotions without actually being attached to them. For instance, we don't really suffer from the pain that we have to showcase with our performances. We are both detached and attached to a role, and I find that to be very spiritual."
As one of the facilitators of the Sandalwood renaissance we have seen these past few years, Rakshit is elated at how the world is looking at Kannada cinema now and is doubly happy that Kannada filmmakers have also started believing in themselves. "When I came into the industry, a lot of my peers often said that ours is a small industry. That attitude hurt me. If the film is big enough, the size of the industry doesn't matter. In fact, haven't we seen good films come from unexpected regions? There is a thriving platform in Kannada cinema, and I didn't want anyone to discredit it by labeling it as a 'small' industry. If we do a good film, we will find our audience. And over the past years, we have seen just that. The world is our market now," signs off Rakshit Shetty.