The Kannada film “Kantara” also made the box office in Kerala ring. The film, which was shot on a budget of Rs 16 crore, has so far grossed more than Rs 300 crore from cinemas around the world. Interestingly, this is the first time that the Kannada version of a Kannada film has taken more than Rs 1 crore from a Kerala cinema. The incredible connection between man and nature and the struggles have impressed the Malayan audience. Rishabh Shetty, who played the lead in Kantara, also directed the film. In an open conversation, Rishabh talks about the film and his future plans.
Kantara and the gods
I was born in a coastal village in Karnataka. I grew up observing and believing in the gods and ritual dance forms similar to the Theyyam of North Kerala. The film tells the story of the struggles between man and nature. The gods act as a bridge between man and nature. This is how the gods came into the story.
gods and me
My family is connected to these rituals. The film is based on an incident that happened in my village about three decades ago. I thought that the rivalry between an ordinary farmer and a forest officer could be shown in parallel with the struggle between man and nature. I wrote it by merging the legends of the gods with the real events. Filming began after special prayers were said at Dharmasthala Manjunatha Swamy Temple and Kollur Mookambika. The location was like a scary place. Everyone on the set avoided eating meat to honor the film’s plot.
I didn’t initially write what would happen in the final 20 minutes of the climax. I had only written that the hero Shiva becomes an incarnation of Gulikan. The camera crew or the fight master had no idea what was going to happen in the climax. These scenes are accompanied by music. We shot non-stop for three days to film these sequences. I didn’t write “Kantara” because I had someone else in mind. I wrote it so I could play the lead role.
Kantara was not intended to be a pan-Indian release. However, the film marketed itself to become popular across the country. Kannadigas did an incredible amount of word of mouth for this film in the first few days. So other states started demanding dubbed versions. Vijay Kiragantoor from Hombale Films was really impressed with the film after watching the final version and insisted it should be dubbed in Malayalam. They said that Keralites, especially those living in North Malabar, could easily identify with the plot and characters. However, we did not expect such overwhelming reactions. We completed the dubbing work in just two weeks after the release of the Kannada version.
Varaha Roopam and the Controversy
I was not dismayed by the controversy. I still don’t think it makes sense. We composed this song and let ourselves be inspired by classical music.