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OTTplay Awards 2022: Know Your Winners – Raj B Shetty wins Pioneering Contributions to New Wave Cinema

The filmmaker-actor shared the award with fellow Kannada filmmaker-actor Rishab Shetty at the first edition of the OTTplay Awards and Conclave 2022 in Mumbai

OTTplay Awards 2022: Know Your Winners – Raj B Shetty wins Pioneering Contributions to New Wave Cinema
Raj B Shetty
  • Prathibha Joy

Last Updated: 09.08 AM, Sep 16, 2022

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As a filmmaker, Raj B Shetty is all of two films old. While the first, Ondu Motteya Kathe, made industry insiders and audiences sit up and take note of him, his second, Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana (GGVV), had the whole nation applauding him as a writer, filmmaker and actor. Raj is widely seen as one of the Shetty gang, which also includes Rakshit and Rishab, actor-filmmakers from Kudla, who have been redefining Kannada filmmaking with stories that are rooted in the local culture but have universal appeal nevertheless. Despite the success of GGVV, a film that Raj had completed prior to the pandemic, he’s been in no hurry to announce his next as a filmmaker, choosing instead to be a part of the odd film as an actor only, whether it is Thurthu Nirgamana, or 777 Charlie, as the case may be.

Ondu Motteya Kathe was a story about the travails faced by a balding Kannada professor, which Raj admits had shades of personal experiences. The film won Raj an award for Best Director and was, subsequently, remake in Hindi as Ujda Chaman and in Malayalam as Thamaasha. During the release of the film, though, Ondu Motteya Kathe was presented by Lucia filmmaker Pawan Kumar, given that Raj and his team were relatively unknown, and the former could give the film the visibility it deserved. Ondu Motteya Kathe made it to Netflix after its theatrical run, which was a commendable feat. But the fact that the film was widely known as Pawan’s creation became a contentious issue, which is why, when Raj set out to make his second, GGVV, he was very vocal that he and his friends had produced it and that Rakshit Shetty was only presenting it for wider reach.

The tale of the rise and fall of two gangsters from the Kudla region, GGVV was widely lauded for its raw filmmaking style and storytelling. The film had Raj and Rishab Shetty in the lead with Gopalkrishna Deshpande in a pivotal role. The film released to rave reviews and made it to the must-watch recommendation lists of pretty much every critic worth his/her salt. “Ondu Motteya Kathe and Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana were both widely appreciated during their theatrical runs and did really well on OTT too. Ondu Motteya Kathe came on Netflix while GGVV was sold to Zee5. In fact, with GGVV, Zee5 had certain expectations in terms of increase in subscriptions, and it surpassed that. The week GGVV debuted on Zee5, it was their No.1 streamed movie across all their language verticals,” says Raj.

So, it is with good reason that although Raj does not have a direct-to-OTT release, OTTplay decided to fete him (and Rishab) for his contribution to cinema. Raj was joint winner with Rishab in the Pioneering Contributions to New Wave Cinema category, an award that he was pleasantly surprised by. Speaking to us after the event, the actor-filmmaker had said, “Doing ‘rooted’ cinema in Kannada is a risky proposition right now, because we don’t have OTT platforms picking this content or are not paying what it deserves. Theatre business is still volatile. In Malayalam and Tamil, a lot of experimentation with content has been happening, so they have become the face of popular cinema. But I am glad that Rishab and I have won this award. I do not consider myself a pioneer. The only effort is to write stories that are close to me, make films that resonate with me. If the credit of being a pioneer of a certain kind of film comes to me, I am glad. I am thankful to OTTplay for considering us for this award.”

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