Raj B Shetty: Unlike Ondu Motteya Kathe, Gubbi Mele Brahmastra is more cinematic
The actor-director talks about how he was uncomfortable playing the character Venkata Krishna Gubbi, his equation with director Sujay, and more
The character of Janardhan, played by Raj B Shetty in Ondu Motteya Kathe (2017), continues to linger in viewers’ minds. The effect is so strong that even the actor, who was also the film’s director, thought that he needed a stronger film to help people overcome his role in OMK. Raj, who stars in the upcoming film, Gubbi Mele Brahmastra, says even though there is no similarity in terms of genre between OMK and Gubbi Mele Brahmastra, both the films will have him representing the common people.
“I analysed that the simplicity of these characters is what makes people relate to them,” says Raj, who is happy to play a normal character and not get projected as a hero. “I believe that actors in cinema should represent common people. I don’t have any qualms if people don’t see me as one of the regular heroes they often see on the silver screen. If you try to bring in your ego and try to fight something that is already there, then I don’t think you can be a creative filmmaker or an artiste,” he says. “We can’t hide reality, nor wear a mask or keep everything under the carpet, trying to say it is normal. As an actor, people who have watched me in OMK questioned whether I was the hero. I felt that they were just establishing the fact, and I never got offended,” he adds.
The actor says Gubbi Mele ..., a story extracted from a proverb, is a not a complicated subject. “We are projecting the film as a simple entertainer. I don’t think there is anything that somebody would want to take away from the film, except for a good laugh, which, I think, is most necessary at this time,” says Raj, who draws a thin line between his own film, OMK and Gubbi Mele.., in terms of content, as well as his role. “The former was more realistic. In OMK, Janardhan was the hero as well as the villain. On the other hand, Gubbi Mele... is more cinematic. To put in a line or two — What will happen when you put a software engineer into a filmy world, who is singing and dancing with three heroines, and fighting the villains? What he will do is the crux of this film,” explains Raj, adding, “Other than my character as Venkata Krishna Gubbi aka Krish, the rest is very filmy and dramatic. There is a villain, played by Pramod Shetty. Even though he is not experienced in theft, or in killing, he projects himself as a big don.”
Raj says playing the character in Gubbi Mele... made him uncomfortable, which was the best part of the project. “I believe in the quote, ‘Whatever makes an actor uncomfortable, makes him grow’. You become uncomfortable because you don’t know how to do something. The comedy act, which you see in Gubbi Mele ..., can in no way be compared to OMK. This made me try and learn comedy timing, and I was appreciated by director Sujay, who himself is an established comedian. My thought is, ‘Don’t get scared when you are uncomfortable. Uncertainty makes you think hard, and think faster’,” he explains.
His value addition to the character of Krish in Gubbi Mele... was just silence. “I have dealt with my character with expressions and did not allow dialogue to dominate. There is one monologue, for which I had room for improvisation.”
Raj, who also got involved in direction in Gubbi Mele, says that, when he read the script initially, he thought it was full of dialogues. “It’s a format I never believed in. There have been films done in this format, but they don’t work out every time. What I liked about Sujay is that he was approachable, and was open to suggestions. I told him to bring down the 5-page dialogues to 2-1/2 pages, and it worked. The bonding between Sujay and me led us to have an open discussion,” he recalls.
Getting freedom from the director can help build an actor’s confidence, he says. “The director’s job is to build an environment where actors can do maximum mistakes. Only then can you get comfortable. When an actor gets conscious, you can’t try anything. But if the person tries something and nobody laughs, then he or she will do something better. That was the beauty of the Gubbi Mele ... team. This helped us make the film, more funny and entertaining.”