He’s not just a hit with the audience, but he’s well-liked by critics across the country too. With the Critic’s Choice Film Award for Best Kannada Actor being awarded to Rishi for Kavaludaari, the artiste is ecstatic that his character Inspector Shyam has managed to wow film experts across the country. While the awards were announced in March, the coveted trophy finally reached Rishi only last week.
“The Critics Choice Film Awards has been created by some of the best critics from across the country. They shortlist films and vote and based on the final voting, they give away the award,” shares Rishi, who was supposed to fly to Mumbai in mid-March to receive the trophy at the awards function. But because of the rising cases of COVID-19 in Maharashtra and the lockdown, the trophy came to his hands only a few days ago. “I’ve always told myself that I shouldn’t think too much about awards, because when making a film, the focus isn’t an award for me. I don’t do anything for an award, but if it comes my way, then it’s an added bonus. It feels special to be recognised for your work. And considering film critics from across the country look at it from so many perspectives, the award felt extra special,” says Rishi. The filmmaker also adds that he’s been overwhelmed by the response he’s been getting for Kavaludaari, especially since it hit Amazon Prime Video.
With the lockdown, more viewers are on OTT platforms. Rishi says, “People started watching so many shows and movies on OTT platforms, but at one point, they got exhausted and viewers from outside Karnataka started looking for Kannada content – these are people who have had no exposure to Kannada films before. I have been told that it’s one of the top films being watched on Prime in Kannada. So, the kind of reach it’s had has been phenomenal. Even now, Hemanth(Rao) and I get tagged on social media when people post about the film. It feels extra special and I don’t feel like the film is one year old. We won at Bangalore International Film Festival too and now that’s it’s on OTT, even in the long run it will get attention.”
While Kavaludaari is being remade in Telugu and Tamil with other actors, Rishi reveals that Operation Alamelamma may see a remake too. “To do a remake, I need to be more comfortable in the language. I want to be in my best capacity when delivering a performance and only then will I be recognised for doing good work. Alemalamma may see a remake soon,” he reveals.
His other films include Sakhala Kala Vallabha (a remake of Naanum Rowdy Dhaan) which has already been shot, Ramana Avatara and an untitled project. “We’ve only shot Ramana Avatara for 15 days, we still have a lot to do. There are also two more scripts that I’ve okayed and will need to work on them post lockdown. The untitled film is a black comedy,” says the actor, who has been busy with post production work of his projects during the lockdown.
He’s chosen content-driven cinema so far and not the typical commercial movies that have mass appeal, does Rishi consciously make a choice to do such projects? “When I’m working on a project I know that I’ll be involved with the character for a considerable amount of time, even after the shoot. I want to have the conviction that it’s a good project and I want to believe in the content and the team. Sometimes, it’s the team and sometimes it’s the script that gives confidence, it’s a mix of things. Right now, I’m focusing on the quality than the quantity. Once you give a good film, what people expect from you will increase. You have to be at the top of the game with these projects, when you falter, you will see what you were thinking and what the audience was thinking and where you went wrong,” he answers.
With TV shows already being shot for and actors like Sudeep having restarted work on their films, Rishi states, “Things will change when people go to the theatres fearlessly and only a vaccine will help people lose that fear. A lot of films have to be positioned for the family audience and if an entire family is not comfortable going to the theatres, people who make such films will be weary of a full-fledged release.”
On the personal front, the actor, who got hitched to his sweetheart Swathi Parasuram, a writer, is glad to have found a lot of time to spend with his better half and also his family. “I’m usually a restless person, working and doing my own stuff. I’m not a very phone person, so I don’t spend hours on the gadget like others. But with my family, I’ve enjoyed playing a lot of things and eating different varieties of food, it’s been fun.”
With his wife being a writer, will we see her pen anything for him anytime soon? “She reads a lot and her knowledge about so many things is amazing. When I have a thought, she’s the go-to person for me. I keep asking her about interesting stuff she’s read and she articulates things very well and gives me a detailed narration in half an hour.In the process, we talk a lot about stories, so yes, she’s working on something, let’s see how it goes,” he signs off.
Featured Image Courtesy: Bhanuprathap from 50mm Studios