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Cinema of Karnataka

The Cinema of Karnataka, sometimes colloquially referred to as 'Chandanavana' in Kannada or the Sandalwood,[1][2] is a part of Indian cinema, where motion pictures are produced in the Indian state of Karnataka, and based in Bengaluru. Today more than 100 films are made every year.[3] Kannada movies are released in a total of 950 single screen theatres in Karnataka and a handful of the movies are also released in the United States, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and other countries.[4] The first government institute in India to start technical courses related to films was established in 1941 named as occupational institute then named as S J POLYTECHNIC in bengalooru. In September 1996, two specialized courses Cinematography and Sound&Television were separated and a new Institute Government Film and Television Institute was started at Hesaraghatta, under the World Bank Assisted Project for Technician Development in India.[5]

Early history

In 1934, the first Kannada talkie, Sati Sulochana,[6] 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

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. Rajkumar concentrated only on Kannada and confined himself to the Kannada film industry till the end. He is considered a great actor 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 Daarigalu, Tabarana Kathe, Bannadha Vesha and Puttanna Kanagal's Naagarahaavu were some of the important movies of this era. Vishnuvardhan and Ambareesh were the two stars born from the film Naagarahaavu. Vishnuvardhan went on to become a super star of south India acting in 220 films in 5 main languages of the country. He grew as a super star to such an extent that a 14.3 km-long stretch of road between the Banashankari Temple and Kengeri in Bengaluru has been named after the superstar and is the longest road in the Asian continent to be named after a celebrity.[7][8][9][10]

Rajkumar and 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.

New millennium

The Kannada film industry managed to generate several blockbusters in the first decade of the new millennium. The new millennium saw the release of Rajkumar's last film, Shabdavedhi, which ran for a packed 175 days across the state. Its run was interrupted by forest brigand Veerapan's kidnapping of Rajkumar. 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 Rajkumar and 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 (son of actor Thoogudeepa Sreenivas), Upendra, Yash, 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 in Kannada).

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, Vishnuvardhan's final film, Aptharakshaka, created new box office records.[citation needed] In the same year, Upendra's 2010 film titled Super collected 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

Film directors from the Kannada film industry like Girish Kasaravalli, M.S.Sathyu have garnered international recognition. Other noted directors include Puttanna Kanagal, G. V. Iyer, T. S. Nagabharana, P. Sheshadri, Girish Karnad, V. Ravichandran Yogaraj Bhat, Soori, Guruprasad and Upendra who has earned 14th place in world popular director list

Some influential Kannada films include Samskara (1970) (based on a novel by U. R. Ananthamurthy), Vamshavruksha (1971), Bhootayyana Maga Ayyu (1974), Chomana Dudi (1975), Hamsageethe (1975), Ghatashraddha (1977), Kaadu Kudure (1979), Bara (1979), Maanasa Sarovara (1982), Accident (1985), Tabarana Kathe (1987), Kraurya (1996), Thaayi Saheba (1997), Mane (2000) and Dweepa (2002).

Industry crossovers

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

State awards

Other awards


  1. ^ Sandalwood's Gain[dead link]. Deccan Herald. January 23, 2006
  2. ^ Young talent applauded[dead link]. Deccan Herald. December 28, 2003
  3. ^ When it rained films. Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
  4. ^ [1]. (1913-05-03). Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
  5. ^ "GFTI". Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "First film to talk in Kannada" article in The Hindu
  7. ^ "Photos: Inauguration Of Dr Vishnuvardhan Road - newsR". 2014-02-03. Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  8. ^ "Information about the person Sampath Kumar by". Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "14-km long road to be named after Vishnu". Bangalore Mirror. Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  11. ^ BIFFES
  12. ^
  13. ^ [2][dead link]

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