As Yash-starrer ‘Raja Huli’ turns 10, director Guru Deshpande and actor Vasishta Sihma recall some special moments

'Raja Huli' cemented Rocking Star Yash as a star hero in Sandalwood in 2013. In the later years, the 'KGF' series catapulted him to pan-Indian stardom.

ByShashiprasad S M

Published Nov 01, 2023 | 12:05 PMUpdatedNov 01, 2023 | 12:05 PM

10 years of Raja Huli

Ten years ago, Raja Huli (2013) (meaning The Tiger King) hit the screens across Karnataka on the occasion of Kannada Rajyotsava. Produced by K Manju, Raja Huli is a remake of the Tamil hit film Sundarapandian (2012) which did wonders at the box office.

It changed the lives of many actors and technicians, including those who invested in and distributed the project.

After two back-to-back successes with Drama (2012) and Googly (2013), Raja Huli’s tremendous success cemented Rocking Star Yash as a star actor in the Kannada film industry.

In the next ten years, he reached the pinnacle of stardom as a pan-Indian hero followed by the humongous success of the KGF series.

Let’s get back to where it all started and why Raja Huli is a milestone for many reasons in the Kannada film industry.

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All about Raja Huli

A poster of the film Raja Huli

A poster of the film Raja Huli’. (Supplied)

In an interview with South First, Raja Huli director Guru Deshpande shares all about the film, some special moments and never-heard incidents during the making of the flick.

“No doubt it’s a special movie in my career as a filmmaker, and I’m sure it is for many who were involved with the project. It was a great experience not only in terms of its success at the box office but also for the reason that it gave everything to me and many,” he says.

As to how the whole journey of Raja Huli started, the director recollects that he along with producer K Manju distributed Yash’s Kirataka (2011) — the Rocking Star’s first-ever major commercial success.

Guru Deshpande adds, “We offered to make a film for Yash after Kirataka, but somehow it never took off. Meantime, I watched Sundarapandian, and I liked it so much and eventually Yash too. This time, everything fell into its place.”

Making of Raja Huli

Rocking star Yash with director Guru Deshpande and composer Hamsalekha.

Rocking Star Yash with director Guru Deshpande and composer Hamsalekha. (Supplied)

The makers say that the biggest challenge they faced was the music.

The director explains, “Nadabrahma Hamsalekha sir, who composed the music and penned all the songs barring one, elevated the entire musical experience of the film to many folds.”

Guru further recollects, “We spent around ₹35 to 40 lakh for the picturisation of the song ‘Om Hindu Gurutu…’ which was one of the highest back then. The uniqueness of this project was the casting. Apart from Yash, almost all were fresh on screen. Senior actor Charan Raj played a different role.”

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Yash injured during the shoot

Yash in Raja Huli

Yash in ‘Raja Huli’. (Supplied)

While the film was shot in 52 days in two schedules, Rocking Star Yash got injured while shooting the action scene of the climax.

“On the last day of the action scene of the climax part, Yash got injured when one of the fighters hit him from behind on his right hand. The pain resulted in a high fever, and Yash shot the remaining portions while he was extremely high on temperature,” Guru Deshpande remembers.

Another song “Chaltha Chaltha…” from the film was shot in Nandi Hills, but many thought it was picturised abroad.

The director elaborates, “Even the shooting of scenes inside the buses was done so meticulously to good effect. We had to carry every piece of equipment, lighting and get it installed inside the bus and repeat the same exercise every time we shot inside the bus.”

10 years of Vasishta Simha

Vashishta N Simha

Actor Vashishta N Simha. (Supplied)

As the director said, apart from Yash, a majority of the casting included new actors.

Though actress Meghana Raj made her debut in Kannada with Punda in 2009, Raja Huli was her second and first major success in Kannada. Prior to that, she was busy with Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu films.

After an impressive act in Kirataka, Chikkanna established himself as a comedy actor with this one and finally, it gave birth to Vasishta N Simha, an actor who completed 10 years in the industry alongside Raja Huli.

When asked why Raja Huli is special to him, Vashishta replies that he was a part of a few forgettable projects before Raja Huli.

“While one never got released, another was without any credit to my job as an actor, cinematographer, playback singer and whatnot. I had almost lost hope. I never dreamt of becoming an actor,” Vasishta Simha tells South First.

He recalls that he was surprised when an assistant director who worked on his uncredited project called him, as it was the same person whom he couldn’t stand eye to eye with.

“He talked about an opportunity in Raja Huli. I was shocked and couldn’t react when K Manju sir, instead of seeking to know my ability, asked me about my remuneration.”

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A one-take actor

The team of Raja Huli

Team ‘Raja Huli’. (Supplied)

By then, the team decided that Vasishta Simha would be playing ‘Jagga’.

“Incidentally, I was so low on confidence a week ago when I was ridiculed by someone that I could not perform, and mine had the emotions of a wooden face.”

However, the actor performed so well that everyone started calling him a one-take actor on the sets of Raja Huli.

A decade later, Vasishta Simha says, it still feels like yesterday. “I was gathering all my certificates exactly the day before the release of Raja Huli, thinking that I would head back to do some job if the film did not go well. The rest is history, and I got everything including the love of my film Hariprriya.”

Box office collections

Raja Huli was made with a budget of around ₹2.72 crore. It eventually collected more than ₹13 crore, a record number for a Kannada film 10 years ago.

It is believed that the movie did an overall business of around ₹35 crore.

According to trade analysts, the film recorded ₹4.5 crore in the first week itself amid stiff competition from the Bollywood film Krrish 3 (2013).