Hombale Films is the proud production team behind Prashanth Neel’s wildly popular KGF franchise (which was also distributed by KRG Studios). And the latest film to come out of the production house is Rishab Shetty’s Kantara, which explores a human-nature conflict ingrained in the culture of Kambala and Bhootha Kola in Dakshina Kannada. Karthik Gowda, who is the creative producer of Hombale Films and founder of KRG Studios, talks to Kairam Vaashi about the making of Kantara, the importance of research, and Rishab Shetty’s minute-long narration for the film.
Shetty narrated Kantara as a fight between man and nature, and the narration lasted for just about a minute and a half, Gowda recalls. “When Rishab narrated the story, even he didn't know that Kantara would turn out to be such a massive film. He first told me about the role played by Kishore, a forest officer who is a man for nature — someone who believes that he should protect the forest. Then, there is Rishab Shetty, who plays Shiva, representing his village people, who do not care much about the government's rules for the forest. And there is an ego clash between them. This was his narration and that forms the crux of the film. Along with that, he brought in the fantasy elements and the community’s culture,” explains Gowda.
And the producer remembers feeling a spark in the script when he listened to the film’s narration. He says it is always love at first sight for him when it comes to scripts. “I go by my first intuition. I do not hear narration twice or thrice and give it a thought. Instead, I choose it based on that spark, whenever I feel that this is a story that needs to be told,” notes Gowda.
The producer emphasises that the amount of research one does and how one maintains the nativity of a place are essential to storytelling, even for films that cater to a global audience. He says, “Take Squid Game (2021) or Narcos (2015) for instance. Narcos is based on Pablo Escobar and Squid Game features Korean actors playing games. When you want to make films that appeal to a bigger audience, the scenes should be world-class, but the essence of the scene must be true to where you are setting up the film. So, how local the film is determines how global its reach will be.”