I don’t believe in the concept of pan – Indian movies : Rishab Shetty at Master Class on ‘Representing Cultural Diversity and Identifying New Markets’

“India is an agri-based country; Our rituals, beliefs, way of life is based on agriculture. Consequently, every village of India has a ritual of their own which believes in natural deity that protects their livelihoods”, said Rishab Shetty during his conversation with T Thyagarajan on the subject ‘Representing Cultural Diversity and Identifying New Markets’ during the 53rd International Film Festival of India being held at Panaji, Goa.

Rishab Shetty, an actor, director and producer in Kannada film industry has many movies to his credit such as Ulidavaru Kandanthe, Kirik Party, Katha Sangama, Ricky etc. His ‘Sarkari Hi. Pra. Shaale, Kasaragodu, Koduge: Ramanna Rai’ won the National Film Award for Best Children’s Film at the 66th National Film Awards. Kantara directed by Rishab Shetty is his latest critically acclaimed film. He is also the lead actor in this commercial blockbuster which broke many box office records.


On the topic of representing cultural diversity in movies, Shri Shetty said Kantara at its core captures the ongoing conflict between humans and nature. It’s an amalgamation of nature, culture & fiction. He said our cultures & belief systems are rooted in every one of us. The movie was a result of  the folklores he had heard and his experiences of childhood in the Tulunadu culture. Thus, he wanted the background music of movie to be naturally a beacon of the culture.

Discussing about his interests, Rishab Shetty said he was a Yakshagana artist since childhood. He was always fascinated to display the culture of kambala, daivaradhane, bhoota kola in films since he started his stint in industry. “ In Tulunadu, we believe in equality of all castes during daivaradhane, it’s a bridge between nature and human”, he opined.

He also told that he used to practice the kambala everyday to perform it in Kantara. He requested the people to not mock any cultural practice as the beliefs are close to hearts of people.

About the role of Shiva in Kantara, Shri Shetty said he had a passion since childhood to play such a character. The idea of Kantara was incepted during second COVID lockdown and he shot the entire movie in his hometown Kundapura, Dakshina Kannada District in Karnataka. Speaking about the cast he added that most are newbies and are theatre artists of Bangalore and Mangalore.

Talking about his breath-taking performance in the climax of Kantara, he said climax is the imperative as that is what stays with people. The harmonious coexistence of nature, man and spirit is the need of the hour, is the message in the movie.

Sharing thoughts about identifying new markets, Shri Shetty said that films today are crossing the language barrier. He added that there are Indian cinemas in different languages and if the content connects with audience, the movie will be accepted as an All-Indian movie. He said that he believed in the mantra if a movie is more local and rooted, then it has a greater universal appeal.

He added that the regional cinemas in the late 90s had influence of western movies. However, today they are incorporating local culture and diversity has given them the much-needed vibrancy and vividity which has been accepted by audience. To support his views, he added that people across India have accepted Kantara despite the language barrier, this is because the audience could connect well with the content.

Shri Shetty also noted that, while previously people had to wait for International Film Festivals, today Over-the top (OTT) platforms have given them the kind of content they yearn for anywhere anytime. He added OTT has increased the access and reach of content-worthy movies multifold, giving people a wide palette of movies to choose from as per their interest.

On being asked about his views on direction vis-à-vis acting, he declared “Direction is my priority”. “I am connected to the society too much. I believe concepts come from there in my movie”, replied the actor when asked about his choice of subjects for movies.

As a producer, he said he always decided the budget based on the script. He opined that the content should be universally appealable rather than unnecessary expenditure on the sets, location and other paraphernalia of film-making.

The Masterclasses and In-Conversation sessions at IFFI 53 are being jointly organized by Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI), NFDC, Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and ESG. A total of 23 sessions comprising masterclasses and in-conversations are being conducted this year to encourage the students and enthusiasts of cinema in every aspect of filmmaking.

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