CINEMA IN KARNATAKA

The Film industry in Karnataka has a history of over six decades. In their early phase, films produced in Karnataka were only based on themes from the Kannada Theatre. The first ‘Mooki’ (silent) film was produced and directed by Mohan Bhavanani with Yenakshi Rama Rao, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya, T.P. Kailasam, O.K. Nanda and other and it had the title ‘Mrichchakatika’. During the 1930s two Bombay Industralists, Haribhai R. Desai and Bhogial Dave established the first studio of Southern Indian in Bangalore named Surya Film Company and made about 40 silent films in about four years. During 1929, with the co-operation of Devudu Narasimha Sastri, Gubbi Veeranna and Algod of Belgium, an organisation named ‘Karnataka Pictures Corporation’ was established through which silent movies ‘Harimaya’, ‘Song of Life’ and ‘His Love Affair’ were produced. ‘Sadarame’, (1935), ‘Hemareddy Mallamma’ (1945), ‘Gunasagari’, ‘Bedara Kannappa’ (1954), ‘Bhutarajya’ and ‘Domingo’ were the prominent movies of that age with the last two being produced by Dr. Shivaram Karanth. Other notable films were ‘Sati Sulocaha’ ‘Samsara Nauka’, ‘Vasanthsena,’ ‘Purandaradasa,’ ‘Bhakta Kumbara,’ ‘Mahatma Kabir,’ ‘Krishnaleela,’ ‘Chandrahasa,’ ‘Bharathi,’ ‘Nagakannika’ and ‘Jaganmohini.’ The notable personalities who made an impact on the silver screen in the early times were T.P. Kailasam, M.G. Mari Rao, Gubbi Veeranna, R. Nagendra Rao, M.V. Subbiah Naidu, Tripuramba, C.T. Sheshachalam, M.V. Rajamma, B.R. Pantulu, Kemparaj Urs, Shanker Singh, B.V. Vithalacharya, H.L.N. Simha and B.S. Ranga, the last two of whom were instrumental in bringing the Kannada Film field from Madras to Bangalore. ‘Bedara Kannappa’ (1954) launched Rajkumar who later grew into a legend in the Kannada film industry and also won the Dada Saheb Phalke award in 1997. In the 1950’s the trend of social films began and the notable films of that decade were ‘Premadaputri,’ ‘Modala Thedhi,’ ‘School Master,’ ‘Kanyadana.’ ‘Adarshasati,’ ‘Bhakta Markandeya,’ ‘Ratnagiri Rahasya,’ ‘Nala Damayanti,’ ‘Bhookailasa,’ ‘Jagajyothi Basaveshwara.’ ‘Dashavatara,’ ‘Ranadheera Kantheerava’ and ‘Bhakta

Kanakadasa.’

The year 1964 was significant in the history of Kannada films for the
* contributed by T.G. Ashwathanarayana production of the first entirely colour movie ‘Amarashilpi Jakanachari’. The same year witnessed the release of ‘Naandi,’ a new wave film made by N. Lakshminarayan. In the 1960’s the man acknowledge by one and all as the greatest director in Kannada film history, Puttanna Kanagal, made memorable films, like ‘Bellimoda’ (1967), ‘Gejje Pooje’ (1968), ‘Sharapanjara’ and in the 70s movies like ‘Sakshatkara,’ ‘Nagara Havu’ etc. The first film based on Children’s subject ‘Makkala Rajya’ was also released during this period. In the 1970’s film makers started adopting Kannada novels by famous authors to the screen and this phenomenon became immensely popular. The novels of eminent novelists like Aa Na Kru, Ta Raa Su, Krishnamurthy Puranik, Triveni, M.K. Indira, Poornachandra Tejasvi, S.L. Byrappa, Sai Sute and T.K. Rama Rao were made into movies. Poems of great poet like Bendre, Kuvempu, K.S. Narasimhaswamy, Gopalakrishna Adiga etc., were converted into film lyrics and they gained acclaim.

The decades of the 1970’s is considered the age of the new-wave or experimental films through films like ‘Samskara’ (1970), ‘Vamsa Vriksha’ (1972),
‘Abachurina Post Office’ (1973), ‘Kadu’ (1974), ‘Hamsageethe’ (1975), ‘Chomana Dudi’ (1975), ‘Pallavi’ (1976), ‘Karavall’ (1977), ‘KanneshwaraRama’ (1977),
‘Ghatashraddha’ (1977), ‘Chitegu Chinte’ (1978), ‘Ondu Orina Kathe,’ ‘Ondaanondu Kaaladalli/’Maleyamakklu,’ ‘Spandana’ (all in 1978), ‘Kadu Kudure’ and ‘Arivu* (1979), ‘Yellindalo Bandavaru’ (1980), ‘Grahana’ and ‘Moorudarigalu’ (1981), ‘Bara’ (1982), and in recent years Avasthe, Pushpaka Vimana , Surya,
Tabarana Kathe, Kaadina Benki, Tarka, Idhu Sadhya, Santha Shishunala Sharif, Bannada Gejje, Hagalu Vesha, Nagamandala, Deveeri etc. The commercially successful films of that period were ‘Nagar Havu’ and ‘Bangarada Manushya’ (1972), ‘Yedakallu Goodada Mele’ and ‘Professor Huchchuraya’ (1973), ‘Upasane’ and ‘Bhootayyana Maga Ayyu,’ (1974), ‘Aparichita’ and ‘Parasangda Gendethimma’ (1978), ‘Mother,’ ‘Mithuna’ (1980) and ‘Gaali Maatu’ (1981), Manasa Sarovara (1982), Phaniyamma (1983), Anubhava (1984), Bettada Hoovu, Masanada Hoovu (1985), Malaya Maruta (1986), Ondu Muttina Kathe (1987), Suprabhata (1988), Sankranti (1989), Udbhava, ShabariMale SwamyAyyappa (1990), Ramachari (1991), Kraurya, Pallavi, Anuroopa, Khandavldeko Mamsavideko, Sankalpa, Bankar Margaiah, Geejagana Goodu, Savithri, Giddah, Ghata Shradda (President’s Gold Medal), Akramana, Mane, Tayi Saheba (President’s Gold Medal) (1997), Aparichita and Beladingala Bale. In the 1980s the Government of Katnataka granted 50% tax exemption to Kannada films completely made in Kamataka and it increased the subsidy amount to films. At present all Kannada Films produced and processed entirely in the State is eligible for Rs. 2.50 lakhs (black & white) and Rs. 3.50 lakhs (colour). L.V. Prasad established a Colour Processing Laboratory in Bangalore, Besides, Sanketh, a recording studio of the Nag Brothers and the

Chamundeshwari studio were started. The availability of good infrastucture, encouragement received from the Government and the viewership had a cascading effect and there was a jump in the number of films made each year, in this decade.Films based on political and social themes, like ‘Accident,’ ‘Antha,’ ‘Bara,’ ‘Chakravyuha,’ ‘Aasphota,’ etc., were made in this decade. Films that were ommercially successful in this decade were ‘Ahtha,”Chakravyooha,’ ‘Hosabelaku,’ ‘Haalu Jenu,’ ‘Mududida Taavare Aralithu,’ ‘Bandhana,’ ‘Benkiya ale,’ ‘Anubhava,’ ‘Anand,’ ‘Rathasaptami,’ ‘Neebareda Kaadambari,’ ‘Premaloka,’
‘Pushpaka Vimana,’ ‘Ranadheera,’ ‘Suprabhata,’ ‘Sangliyana,’ ‘Nanjundi Kalyana,’ ‘Avale Nanna Hendathi,’ ‘Hendthige Helabedi,’ ‘Indrajit’ ‘Dada,’ ‘Deva,’
‘Anjadagandu,’ ‘Hridaya Haadithu,’ ‘Gagana,’ ‘CBI Shankar’, ‘Gajapathi Garvabhanga,’ ‘Ramachari,’ ‘Chaitrada Premanjali,’ ‘Bhanda Nanna Ganda,’ ‘Jeevan Chaitra’ and ‘Aakasmika’.

Even though the background instrumental music was in vogue in silent films, songs were sung in the first talkie film in 1934. It is said that the advent of modern orchestra in films was due to the efforts of P. Kalinga Rao in 1941. Playback Singing became popular later. Music directors like P. Shamanna, R. Sudarshan, G.K. Venkatesh, T.G. Lingappa, Vijaya Bhaskar, Rajan Nagendra and Hamasalekha have become popular. B.V. Karnath, Prema Karanth, Girish Kasaravalli, M.S. Satyu, Siddalingaiah, Girish Karnad, Suvarna, G.V. Iyer, Nagabharana and Baraguru Ramachandrappa are film directors who have won national awards. A promising young women film maker is Kavitha Lankesh (Deveeri Film). Many Kannada films have won a large number of State and National awards
over this period of time. Kamataka Film Chamber of Commerce was started in Bangalore in 1944. Some amateur film societies are producing film in 17 mm or 8mm cameras. These are ‘Assema,’ ‘Srishtri,’ ‘Swajan’ and ‘Suchitra’ Societies.

The first regional office of the National film Archives of India, Pune, was started in Bangalore in 1982 at Chowdiah Memorial Hall. It is engaged in collecting and preserving old and memorable films made in all the regional language of South India. The popular film studios of Karnataka are Premier Studio at Mysore and Chamundeshwari, Sree Kantheerava and Abhimaan at Bangalore. Many colour laboratories, processing units and recording units are also functioning in Bangalore, Which is the film city of Karnataka. Apart from veteran “Karnataka Ratna” Dr. Rajkumar who has won prestigious Dada Phalke Award, the Kannada screen has produced a host of talented artistes like Ashwath, Balakrishna, Narasimha Raju, Kalyan Kumar, Udaya Kumar, Gangadhar, Vishnuvardhan, Ambarish, Prabhakar, Sridhar, Ravichandran, Kashinath, Shankar Nag, Ananth Nag, Lokesh, Rajesh, Sudharshan, Srinath, C.R. Simha, Dwarkish, Vajramuni, Ramesh Arvind,
Ramgopal etc., and actresses like M.V. Rajamma, Leelavathi, B,V, Radha, Jayamma, Pandari Bai, B. Saroja Devi, Jayanthi, Kalpana, Aarti, Bharati,Manjula, Harini, Jayamala, Jayalakshmi, Malashri, Sudha Rani, Vaishali Kasaravalli, Tara etc. G.V. Iyer is the first to make the Film in Sanskrit “Adi Sankaracharya”

in 1984, which won for him the nations highest award. He further made “Madhwacharya” in Kannada in 1986 and “Ramanujacharya” in 1988 in Tamil trying to bring out the teachings of these saint, philosophers, through the medium of Cinema. Iyer again won the national award for his film “Bhagavadgeetha” in 1993.
The following films have won National Award under different Categories 1. Bedara Kannappa (1955); 2. Samskara (1970); 3. Chomana Dudi (1976); 4. Ghatashraddha (1978); 5. Dangeyedda Makkalu (1980); 6. Phaniyamma(1983); 7. Adi Shankaracharya (1984) 8. Tabarana Kathe (1987) 9. Pushpaka Vimana (1988); 10. Jamboo Savari (1990) 11. Tayi Saheba (1997) 12. Deveeri (1999) 13. Kanoor Heggadithi (2000)

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