In a recent conversation with OTTplay, Rakshit Shetty mulled over why the Kannada Industry is yet to "crack" the OTT code, with respect to web shows or long-form storytelling.
There's no denying that long-form storytelling on the web has been slowly but surely finding its bearings in the Indian context. Yes, one finds its relevance and popularity being skewed more towards Hindi-speaking parts of the country but southern India, collectively, isn't too meek either in comparison.
Telugu web series are increasingly finding a wider viewer base and simultaneously, bigger names and production houses are proactively venturing into the format. Tamil and Malayalam, too, have a few enterprising titles to their names already and one gathers that there are a few more on the way to keep that wheel turning. If not a full-blown series, one still finds big names in these industries exploring other formats like the anthology on the web to lend themselves that extra creative & decensoring liberty as opposed to a theatrical release.
But interestingly, similarly popular and established names from the Kannada Film Industry are yet to bridge that gap between the big and the small screens. There have been small but valid attempts made over the years such as Honeymoon (produced by Shiva Rajkumar's daughter Niveditha Rajkumar) but they do not boast the same scale and vision that their counterparts in Hindi, Telugu or Tamil do.
TV shows are a part of the creative diet in the West: Rakshit Shetty
"One reason (for this) would be that we haven't cracked the formula yet," says actor/filmmaker/producer Rakshit Shetty, who has commissioned several exciting projects under his home banner of Paramvah Studios. Rakshit responds to a question pertaining to all of South India and not the Kannada Film Industry alone, while mulling over the web as a conducive space to tell stories.
"The West, of course, has already cracked it and North (India) is trying to do that now because they have a bigger audience base. I am sure the format will reach South India as well but you must remember that most of us here (in the South) aspire to make films first and not web series. Whereas in the West, you would find that everyone has grown up watching shows on TV and most of them also carry the clarity to choose between TV and film before they even start out," he adds.
Here's Rakshit Shetty, Rukmini Vasanth and Hemanth M Rao in an exclusive conversation with OTTplay:
That said, Rakshit Shetty announced back in 2020 that Paramvah Studios would be producing a web series Ekam, whose teaser was released in 2021. Although the first glimpses of the show attracted extremely encouraging reviews, the show is yet to make its debut on streaming but fans are hoping that it will see the light of day sooner than later.
Rakshit Shetty honoured at OTTplay Awards 2023
In other developments, Rakshit's immense contribution to Kannada cinema, especially the 'new wave', was acknowledged at the recently held OTTplay Awards 2023. In the 'Pioneering Contributions to New Wave Cinema' category, Rakshit's work as not just an actor but also as a producer and filmmaker was deservedly honoured at the one-of-a-kind language-agnostic awards event that saw some of the biggest names of Indian cinema and streaming spaces in attendance.
Here's what Rakshit Shetty had to say about the award: