Rishab Shetty
Rishab Shetty on the sets of SHPSK.Rishab Shetty Facebook Page

After many years of struggle, Rishab Shetty made his directorial debut in Ricky. His first movie failed to set the box office on fire although the content was hailed by the critics. His second flick Kirik Party changed his fortunes as it went on to become one of the biggest hits of all time in Sandalwood. Now, the director is back with his latest venture Sarkari Hiriya Prathamika Shale, Kasaragod. 

Ahead of the film's release the director has spoken about the movie, working with Ananth Nag and more with International Business Times. Here are the excerpts from the interview:

When a filmmaker delivers a blockbuster, he generally prefers to work with big banners and A-list actor. In rare cases, we have seen the same team joining hands again for a movie. But you surprised us by doing a movie without an A-list star after directing blockbuster like Kirik Party. Why?

Isn't Ananth Nag a big star? There is no big or small in cinema; people will decide it. If Kirik Party was not a blockbuster, it would have remained a small film. Earlier, it was not like that and every film was treated based on its content. Only now we are differentiating it as an art-house and commercial film.

Frankly speaking, we need to treat Sarkari Hiriya Prathamika Shale, Kasaragod (SHPSK) as big simply because we have managed and micro-managed everything which isn't the case in big-banner movies where there will be a dedicated team to handle every aspect of the film.  

How challenging is this project from Ricky and Kirik Party? 

As a filmmaker, I would like to restrict myself to one kind of movies. I like to experiment. Today, the audiences are at least a year ahead of us. If I begin the project now, it will be delivered one year later. By then, the idea might have gotten old. With the rise of internet penetration, people have access to the content from different film industries across the world.

The challenging is to think two years ahead of them. If you ask me, I would improvise the content in Kirik Party and might have a better version for SHPSK some three years from now. 

What is Sarkari Hiriya Prathamika Shale, Kasargodu all about?

Kannada medium schools are being closed as students are not preferring the medium of instruction and the movie is against the shutting down of those schools. The movie is about children getting an education in their mother tongue. The story will be told with a lot of humour and the content will give a nostalgic feeling to the people. 

People can treat this like 'junior Kirik Party'. The story might be set in Kasargod backdrop, but people from everywhere can relate to the content as it makes them revisit their memories. 

I want this movie to be a document to those who wanted to make a movie in Kasargod. The story is not about an individual. It is surrounded around the place which gives a rough idea of its culture, geography and politics. 

Looking at the trailer, I get an impression that you have come out with an out-of-the-box idea.

There is nothing called as an out-of-the-box idea. Everything is within the box as we take inspiration from nature and adapt to suit it to our content.

Ironically, SHPSK is releasing in the year when Karnataka government decided to replace English as the medium of instruction in government schools. What is your take on the issue?

I am against the government's decision to replace Kannada medium schools with English medium. It should encourage people by creating jobs for those studying in Kannada for the growth of the language. Look at people working in Indian Railways or the people who collect money at the toll gates. We only see people from other states working here. It is like hammering a nail into a tree and it will see a slow death. This is how our language is being killed slowly.

We can take inspiration from the success stories of China and Japan where education is given in mother tongue. Parents should also take the blame over the issue as they want their children to study only in English mediums.

Furthermore, look at the rank holders in the competitive exams and you will find many names on the list who studied in their mother tongue and not in private schools. The British Raj created this system as they required people to work as clerks, attendees and other lesser important jobs. Remembers our ancient Gurukul system created masters and not just students and it can be possible only when the child is taught in its mother tongue.

Explain about your enriching experience working with Ananth Nag.

I penned the character keeping him in mind. I feel nobody could have enacted the role apart from him. He plays an unpredictable, chilled out and a well-settled man in SHPSK. If you have seen the trailer, there are two sides to his character.

I treasure the experience of working with Ananth Nag sir. If someone asks me about achievements in my life, I can now proudly say that I worked with him.

I got to learn a lot from him during the process. One thing that I noticed about Ananth sir is that he takes the utmost interest in doing things to his best of his abilities.

The movie gave me an opportunity to revisit his memories. Not many know he studied in Anand Ashrama in Kanchanagada which is now rechristened as Kani Gada in Kasaragod. He spent his childhood when the Kannada boards were being replaced with Malayalam. So, he was emotionally attached to this project. He is now a father-figure to me.

Lastly, who is the boy who was the narrator in the trailer?

His name is Sampath. He plays an important role in the film named Mammootty, a fan of Mohanlal. The role is inspired by my childhood.