The film revolves around a dying folk culture Bhootha Aradhane (ghost worship) which is prevalent among the Tulu speaking people. The running time of "Gaggara" is 110 minutes.
"I am happy that my first Tulu film has received a national recognition. I have been in the film industry for more than a decade, but this is the first time I have got such a huge recognition," Shivadhwaj told IANS.
"I am happy that the film has got an award. I am sure that this problem will be seen and analysed by international audience," says Shivadhwaj who directed commercial Kannada film "Neene Neene" with Dhyan (also known as Sameer Dattani) and Aishwarya Nag in leads.
Tulu is spoken in parts of Karnataka, particularly in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts and some parts of Kasaragod district in Kerala.
Shivadhwaj says that he had no plans to direct a Tulu film. He was gearing up to make an action film in Kannada, but the project got delayed. Then this idea of directing a Tulu film came to him. Thankfully some of his friends backed him.
"I wrote the script based on my own experiences of watching people who were involved in the spiritual practice of Bhootha Aradhane. Though this ritualistic folk dance is very popular in these districts, I have found that the practice is slowly dying down," says Shivadhwaj who has acted in more than 10 Kannada films.
Compared to the Tulu theatre, which has been able to sustain even in the present age, the Tulu film industry is relatively not flourshing.
Only one or two films are made every year and in more than three decades only 30 Tulu films have been proudced. The first one "Enna Thangadi", directed by S.R. Rajan, was released in 1971.
Most of the Tulu films are made at a shoe-string budgets and the actors are either poorly paid or not paid. Some of the critically acclaimed Tulu films are "Koti Chennaiah" and "Sudhdha".
"The passion to achieve something is driving filmmakers particularly from the Udupi and Dakshina districts to make Tulu films. I was really unhappy to see the plight of people involved in the Bhootha Aradhane pooja. They have jobs for only five months and are uncared rest of the year. And most of these artists and religious workers are poorly paid. They are finding it difficult to continue in this situation and the baton is not passed on to youngsters who are looking for cosy jobs."
"Gaggara" is the second Tulu film to have won a National award after "Koti Chennaiah".