Creating ordinary and close-to-real-life characters is my forte, says Raj B Shetty

Raj B Shettty's most-anticipated film 'Toby', directed by Basil Alchalakkal, is releasing in theatres on 25 August.

ByShashiprasad S M

Published Aug 21, 2023 | 1:45 PMUpdatedAug 21, 2023 | 2:09 PM

Raj B Shetty in Toby

Actor-writer-director Raj B Shetty made a “bold” entry into Kannada films with his critically acclaimed venture Ondu Motteya Kathe (2017). The movie revolved around the escapades of a man grappling with the insecurities of being bald.

Thereafter, Raj B Shetty made multiple films that earned immense appreciation across India for his films, especially the characters through which he effectively depicted ordinary and real-life characters to good effect on screen.

In an exclusive interview with South First, Raj B Shetty talks about his most ambitious project Toby for which he penned the screenplay alongside portraying the lead character.

Toby’s journey

A poster of the film Toby

A poster of the film ‘Toby’. (Supplied)

Ondu Motteya Kathe gave the Kannada film industry another talented and versatile personality in the form of Raj B Shetty.

He could not only act but also can write compelling stories for the screen and even direct them with a contrasting vision. He chose a different path altogether from the regular stream of commercial films.

“One of my friends wanted to do a film with me. But I was very much occupied with my other commitments. Meanwhile, writer-filmmaker TK Dayanand had a story which, to me, needed some work to turn into a movie. While working on it, I started to visualise images and characters that eventually became Toby,” he said.

Raj B Shetty explained that he, as a child, would love the magical experience of watching a movie in theatres.

“Most of us would believe the larger-than-life portrayed on screen, while it is all a myth in real life. While some films were close to reality, the majority were so fictional that the audience would thrive for it to happen in real life too.”

He further added, “Since it cannot happen, the audience would feel catharsis about it. On a similar line, we attempted to make a mass film (Toby) without leaving the content and the character.”

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Takes inspiration from real life

Raj B Shetty promoting Toby

Raj B Shetty promoting ‘Toby’. (Supplied)

All his films — from Sarkari Hiriya Praathamika Shaale (2018), Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana (2021), and 777 Charlie (2022) — have unusual characters and premises.

Raj B Shetty pointed out, “Nobody in real life roams around the trees and bushes, whole in love. But such premises in the films have become so usual that when someone attempts to portray a usual character close to life are termed ‘different’ and ‘experimental’.”

He said, “All my characters are based on real-life experiences and close to realities. I draw my inspiration for the film based on what I encounter daily as a person and what is prevailing in society.”

For instance, he mentions that no one is perfect in real life, even the most successful businessman would be a miser. “We all face insecurities in life. The imperfection and perfection are the essence that attracts me as a filmmaker.”

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Believes in constant learning

The filmmaker admits that when he started to make Ondu Motteya Kathe, he had little knowledge of the filmmaking process. “We knew nothing about handling a camera or lights. But we learnt everything from scratch.”

Raj B Shetty noted, “It is the constant learning process and the we-don’t-know-it-all factor that helped us learn and master the art. My mantra is — ‘I do not know everything and I must learn them’.”

He also shared that his team members are his biggest strength; for, they are forever hungry to learn new things without worrying over social validation.

Also Read: Writer PS Arjun talks about his Malayalam film ‘Pattaapakal’

No lies please!

Until two months ago, people knew nothing about the film Toby. But after the trailer was released, a couple of weeks ago, it garnered 10 million views, which is a feat by itself.

A still from the film Toby

A still from the film ‘Toby’. (Supplied)

“We wanted to tell a story and collaborate with others to take it before the audience. But after watching the response to the trailer, my expectations doubled,” he said.

Raj B Shetty further added, “So far, we haven’t released much content for promotions. I haven’t lied anything about the film in the name of the trailer and teasers. With Toby becoming a most-expected project in such little time, it gave me immense faith in ourselves.”

Apart from Toby, his directorial film Swathi Mutthina Male Haniye is also expected to hit the screens in the coming months.

Let’s see what more interesting characters he would pen in the future!