Filmmaker Kiranraj K shares his thoughts about the latest trends in the Kannada film industry

After working with Rishab and Rakshit Shetty, Kiranraj knew that it was time to begin working on his dream project, 777 Charlie

Srushti Kulkarni Published :  23rd December 2022 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  23rd December 2022 12:00 AM

Kiranraj K with Charlie

Born i n Kumbadaje, a small village in Kerala’s Kasaragod district, actor and director Kiranraj K, who once thought his dream of having a career in the industry almost impossible, is now gearing up to release his directorial debut, 777 Charlie, in Thailand. Over the years, he has directed several short films, music albums, and documentaries that shed light on several dark sides of our society. In a candid interview, Kiranraj shares a few anecdotes, that helped him showcase the ill effects of animal breeding, endosulfan pesticide and more, from his personal and professional journeys.

“I used to actively participate in street plays and theatre productions during my school days,” the director, who belongs to a family of farmers, shares. Owing to financial circumstances, after completing his secondary education, he could not carry on with his studies and had to take on the roles of a waiter and hospital security guard in Mangaluru. “In between those jobs, I continued to write stories and the more I wrote, the desire to convey these tales through films became stronger,” he adds.

In 2010, Kiran took a closer step towards achieving his dream by enrolling for a specialisation course in Film Direction at Star Creators Film Institute in Bengaluru. However, after completing his course, he to returned to his hometown as he was dejected by the junior artiste roles he was repeatedly offered. During his brief stay there, he began working on one of his scripts, which paved the way for his success. “With the help of my friends, I arranged some funds to make a telefilm titled Kaavala and later, it was showcased in several schools,” Kiran reveals. Upholding the theme of morality and justice in society, the film addresses the issues faced by teenage girls and the ill effects of endosulfan pesticide in
Kasaragod. He also shot Kanasu, a music video that celebrates human relationships.

“Soon after, I made Kabbina Haalu, a 12-minute silent short movie shot with a handycam. But I wasn’t
expecting it to win an award,” he exclaims. Based on real-life incidents, the movie portraying the difference in characteristics of a privileged kid and an under-privileged kid, won the Best Film Award at the Vibha South Indian Short Film Festival. Besides these, Kiran also made a documentary titled The Yakshagana Puppets that centred around well-known Indian puppeteer KV Ramesh. “Thanks to the
award, I got an opportunity to work in Endendigu (film) where I met Rishab and Rakshit Shetty and the rest is history,” he reminisces.

Talking about the current trends in cinema, the artiste says, “a lot of new filmmakers are introducing fresh genres and more regional aspects to the screen, be it in cinemas or in web series. And the credit goes to the pandemic because that’s when the audience was truly open to a vivid variety of stories,” adding, “today, the narrative and the experience a film provides takes precedence because the audience
and the industry has broken the language barrier.” 

Like the changing trends in film, Kiran also wishes to see one major change in the cinema industry, “as a writer and a filmmaker myself , I have personally experienced a few situations where scriptwriters are underpaid when compared to other departments. This not only fails to appreciate their talent and effort but also does not encourage aspiring writers to join the industry.”

After working with Rishab and Rakshit Shetty, Kiranraj knew that it was time to begin working on his dream project, 777 Charlie. The story was inspired by various articles about travellers accompanied
by their canines and personal experiences. “The name for the lead character comes from legend
of Dharmaraya’s dog following him to the Himalayas in Mahabharata,” he elaborates. Starring Rakshit Shetty, Sang eetha Sring eri, Raj B Shetty and Danish Sait, the film, under the banner of Paramvah Studio, follows a female labrador puppy who runs into Dharma, an antisocial human. When the dog seeks refuge in his house, her company turns Dharma’s life around by helping him cope with the loss and loneliness.

The film, paying homage to the bond shared between humans and their furry friends, left every viewer teary-eyed. The film spread awareness about dog breeding, the results of animal abandonment and the importance of pet adoption. “These stories are the incidents that have happened in my life. I have personally observed a few things, which have troubled me and I feel that these messages are best conveyed through cinema because films are quick to capture the attention of the audience and make an
impact on them,” he elaborates.

It took him about a year and a half to just script 777 Charlie and over two years to train the labrador before the shoot began. Rakshit who first came on board as a producer decided to play the lead after he read the story. “For the five years that we spent on making this film, the reaction of the audience
made it worthwhile for the entire cast and crew. The film is a family drama and its theatrical release
was scheduled with several other movies that the viewers usually prefer. We were initially nervous
about how it would be received by everyone and whether or not they would watch it. But the audience
respected our content and enjoyed the experience,” he shares. As a result, the Karnataka government declared the film tax - free in all cinemas in Karnataka. Post-production, the film crew adopted all four
labradors that were featured in the film.