Cinema of Karnataka

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The Cinema of Karnataka, sometimes colloquially referred to as Chandanavana in Kannada,[1][2] is a part of Indian cinema, where motion pictures are produced in the Indian state of Karnataka, and based in Bangalore. Today more than 100 films are made every year.[3] With a total of 650 cinema theatres in Karnataka, a handful of the movies are also released in the United States, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and other countries.[4]

Early history[edit]

In 1934, the first Kannada talkie, Sati Sulochana,[5] appeared in theatres, followed by Bhakta Dhruva (aka Dhruva Kumar).

Both Sati Sulochana and Bhakta Dhruva were major successes. Sati Sulochana was shot in Kolhapur at the Chatrapathi studio; most filming, sound recording, and post-production was done in Chennai. It was difficult to find financial backing for new film projects in the region, thus very few movies in Kannada were released during the early years of Indian sound cinema.

Gubbi Veeranna could be considered the doyen of Kannada cinema during the mid to late forties. In 1949, Honnappa Bhagavathar, who had earlier acted in Gubbi Veeranna's films, produced Bhaktha Kumbara and starred in the lead role along with Pandaribai. In 1955, Honnappa Bhagavathar again produced a Kannada film, Mahakavi Kalidasa, in which he introduced B. Saroja Devi.

Ku Ra Seetharama Sastry ("Kurasi") was an actor, film director, lyricist, and screen playwright from the mid-forties through the late seventies. Kurasi introduced several artists to Kannada film industry, including Shivaram (Beratha Jeeva) and Shakthi Prasad (Karaga Shakti, father of Kannada,Telugu & Tamil actor/director Arjun).

Narasimharaju and G. V. Iyer decided to form a partnership and produce movies. The partnership lasted for only a couple of movies. Ranadhira Kanteerava was one such successful joint venture. The majority of the films during this decade were either mythological or historical in nature.

The rise of Rajkumar in the early 1950s encouraged the Kannada film industry to make more historical movies. Bedara Kannappa (1954) was the first Kannada movie which completed 365 days at the theatres and it received a letter of appreciation from the central government.

1970s and 1980s[edit]

The 1970s and the 1980s are often considered to be the Golden Age of Kannada cinema. It was also the period that witnessed the birth of alternate cinema or parallel cinema. Kannada cinema spearheaded the parallel cinema movement in India along with Hindi, Bengali and Malayalam cinemas. Dr. Rajkumar had already acquired demigod status in Karnataka by then. Rajkumar concentrated only on Kannada and confined himself to the Kannada film industry until his last movie, Shabdavedhi. It is because of his passion for Kannada films that he ruled KFI as its undisputed leader from 1954-2006. He is considered the greatest actor that Kannada cinema has seen mainly because of the ease with which he enacted historical, mythological, social, adventurous and comedic roles.

B. V. Karanth's Chomana Dudi (an evocative film on caste distinctions), Girish Karnad's Kaadu and Girish Kasaravalli's Ghatashraddha spearheaded the Kannada parallel cinema. Vamshavruksha, Prema Karanth's Phaniyamma, Kadu Kudure, Hamsageethe, Accident, Akramana, Mooru Dhaarigalu, Tabarana Kathe, Bannadha Vesha and Puttanna Kanagal's Naagarahaavu were some of the important movies of this era. Dr.Vishnuvardhan and Dr.Ambareesh were the two stars born from the film Naagarahaavu. Dr. Vishnuvardhan went on to become a super star of south India acting in 220 films in 5 main languages of the country.

Dr.Rajkumar and Dr.Vishnuvardhan from then are considered the two pillars of the Kannada Film Industry. They both have been very instrumental in shaping the Kannada Identity.

Shankar Nag made his own mark with the internationally acclaimed Ondanondu Kaladalli and Malgudi Days, along with several commercial hits. Tiger Prabhakar, Ananth Nag, Lokesh, Ashok, Srinath, M. P. Shankar, and Sunder Krishna Urs were other actors who made their own mark in the industry. Puttana Kanagal paved the way for the above mentioned actors as well as Ramakrishna, Kokila Mohan, and Chandrashekar. Lakshmi, Padma Vaasanthi, Geetha, Madhavi, Saritha, and Jayamala were some of the actresses who made their mark.

The late 80's saw the emergence of V. Ravichandran and Shivarajkumar and Ramesh Aravind as top heroes, with a good number of family oriented films made during this period. Rajendra Singh Babu, D. Rajendra Babu, V. Somashekhar, Sai Prakash and M.S Rajshekhar are some of the best directors of this era. H. R. Bhargava directed numerous popular Kannada movies during the 1980s and 1990s.

Ravichandran and Hamsalekha successfully created a blend exclusively for youth. Ravichandran brought in actresses from other industries. The same era also marked the beginning of many actresses such as Bhavya, Mahalaxmi, Sudha Rani, Tara, Malashri, Anjali, Vanitha Vasu, Anjana, and Shruthi.

Kannada cinema is known among Indian cinemas for introducing the item song/Cabary dance.

New millennium[edit]

The Kannada film industry managed to generate several blockbusters in the first decade of the new millennium. The new millennium saw the release of Dr .Rajkumar's last movie, Shabdavedhi, which ran for a packed 175 days across the state. The movie's run was interrupted by Veerapan's kidnapping of Rajkumar. Dr. Rajkumar was held captive for 108 days, after which he was released. During this time the state of Karnataka was on a string of bandhs and protests. The industry suffered heavy losses with the demise of superstars Dr.Rajkumar and Dr.Vishnuvardhan. The passing of other KFI actors like Tiger Prabhakar, K. S. Ashwath and Vajramuni also gave a huge setback to the industry.

This decade also saw the emergence of talented artists like Puneeth Rajkumar (Rajkumar's third son), Darshan Tugudeep (son of actor Toogudeepa Sreenivas), Upendra, Sudeep, Ganesh, Diganth and Vijay. Among the female actors, Ramya, Rakshita, Radhika, Aindrita Ray, Sharmila Mandre, Bhavana, Pooja Gandhi and Ragini Dwivedi were in the top league starring in many commercial cinema.

Ace director Upendra turned into an actor and acted in many super hit films like A(1998), Upendra(1999) (first Kannada movie to release in Japan), Buddhivantha(2008), Super(2010) and Katari Veera Surasundarangi(2012) (first full length 3D film).

Child actor Kishan Shrikanth became the youngest director of a professionally made feature film in the world (Guinness Book of World Records) by directind C/o Footpath at 9 years in Kannada which won him the Best Children's Film National Award in 2007, two Karnataka State Awards and 11 International Awards from countries including Italy, Spain, Greece, Egypt, Qatar, Iran, USA and UK.

Kannada actress Umashree won a Best Actress National Award for the movie Gulabi Talkies in 2009. The film also screened at Osian's Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema and won three awards: Best Film in Indian Competition, Best Actress in Indian Competition (Umashree), and Best Actor in Indian Competition (Vinay BM).

Kannada cinema celebrated its 75-year anniversary in 2009. A function was held on the palace grounds in Bangalore on 1 March 2009 under the direction of V. Ravichandran, featuring a set resembling an open-winged bird. It was attended by many stars from Kannada cinema as well as actors from other film industries who had a stint in Kannada films.

In 2010, Dr.Vishnuvardhan's final film, Aptharakshaka, created new box office records.[citation needed] In the same year, Upendra's 2010 film titled Super collected INR 35 crores and broke all the records till date, becoming the highest grossing movie of 2010. Darshan's Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna, produced by Anand Appugol, is said[by whom?] to be the most expensive (30 crore) Kannada film to date, and one of the highest grossing film (40 crore) in the history of Kannada cinema. The highest grossing Kannada movie is Mungaru Male, collecting 45 crores in its 1 year theatrical run.

Critical reception[edit]

Film directors from the Kannada film industry like Girish Kasaravalli have garnered international recognition. Other noted directors include Puttanna Kanagal, G. V. Iyer, Girish Karnad, T. S. Nagabharana, Yograj Bhat, Soori, Guruprasad and Upendra, who has earned 14th place in a top 100 Directors list.[6]

Some influential Kannada films include Samskara (based on a novel by U. R. Ananthamurthy), Chomana Dudi by B. V. Karanth, Tabarana Kathe, Vamshavruksha, Kadu Kudure, Hamsageethe, Bhootayyana Maga Ayyu, Accident, Maanasa Sarovara, Ghatashraddha, Tabarana Kathe, Mane, Kraurya, Thaayi Saheba, and Dweepa.

State awards[edit]

Other awards

Industry crossovers[edit]

Kannada-Tulu native artists who migrated from Karnataka, and gained notability in other language films like Kollywood and Tollywood.

References[edit]

External links[edit]