What happens when a Karnataka government school faces imminent closure?
Kannada director Rishab Shetty, of Kirk Party fame, explores a different genre with his new film, Sarkari. Hi. Pra. Kasaragodu, Shale Koduge : Ramanna Rai (Government High Education School, Kasaragodu: Ramanna Rai).
Set in Kasargod, along the Kerala-Karnataka border, this story is pivoted around school children and how they react when they hear that their school is to be closed.
“The inspiration for this came when I heard about a Kannada school being closed for different reasons,” said Shetty who always wanted to do a children’s film.
Writing the script took him to his childhood days and his memories helped him build some of the characters of the film.
For the casting, children from Kasargod were auditioned. They were trained over a 45-day workshop.
Veteran actor Anant Nag plays Anantha Padmanabha, a teacher and a self-proclaimed social activist.
“His character is a funny and jolly man. He fights for the school. I wrote this role especially for him,” said Shetty who considers working with Ananth Nag similar to studying in a university.
The child actors in main roles are Ranjan (as Praveena), Sampath (as Mommothy) and Saptha (as Pallavi).
Having a team of children on board did not pose any difficulties, added Shetty.
“Like for every film, we conducted workshops and prepared them before going on the floors. Children are hyperactive, so we had to be strict to ensure discipline. There used to be quarrels among them,” he said.
The supporting cast includes Pramod Shetty and Prakash Thuminad. Shetty, also an accomplished actor, plays a cameo role, besides producing the film under his banner, Rishab Films. Vasuki Vaibhav has scored music. A Venkatesh has handled the camera.
“It will take viewers to their childhood days, assures Shetty. “And with its emphasis on the learning of one’s mother tongue, the story highlights the need to protect such schools.”
Shetty’s next film is Bell Bottom, where he plays the lead in a detective story laced with comedy.