Kannada cinema's hits and misses of 2017
A look back at this past year in the Kannada industry
There was much hullabaloo over demonetisation and GST rollout this year, and its effect on the cinema industry. But, if the number of releases are anything to go by, Kannada industry seems unscathed. Last year, 172 films hit theatres and this year, 196 films did. Perhaps, here aspiration triumphs adversity.
That said, only a handful of Kannada films were well-made, which is of course a sad state of affairs. As the year draws to a good end with Chamak’s release, CE tracks the highs and lows of 2017.
Raajakumara makes history
Despite the industry’s poor show in terms of quality, a few established filmmakers and newcomers did rejoice with their films doing well at the box office. First in line of this year’s superhits was Puneeth Rajkumar-starrer Raajakumara. The film directed by Santhosh Ananddram was declared an all-time industry hit, for its collections and size of audience. Its track Bombe Heluthaite scored by V Harikrishna was the most talked about song, with millions of viewers across the globe tuning in.
Debutants win hearts
- Though an offbeat film made with a shoe-string budget, Raj B Shetty’s Ondu Motteya Kathe produced by Pawan Kumar Films was much appreciated. Its unique script, of a young and balding man who is ‘fated’ to be an ascetic unless he gets married in an year, became the talk the town and touched a chord with varied audiences.
- Multistarrer Chowka, which marked the directorial debut of Tharun Sudhir, also got a good reception from the audience, and the film had a 100-day run in theatres.
- A few other directors who did well with their first films were Adarsh Eshwarppa with Shuddhi, music director Ravi Basrur with Kataka, and Rohit Padaki with Dayavittu Gamanisi.
Producers did well with reasonable box-office success
A few got back the investment they made, while fewer rode back home with profits. Commercial films that did well at the box office, and ran for 100 successful days, include Raajakumara, Sudeep-starrer Hebbuli directed by S Krishna, and Dhruva Sarja’s Bharjari by Chethan Kumar. Going by industry reports, Mufti, a debut project by Narthan starring Sriimurali and Shivarajkumar, is heading in the same direction. Darshan’s starrer Tarak, directed by Prakash Jayaram, and Chowka kept the cash registers ringing.
Films that earned their investments include Mugulu Nage, Operation Allamellamma, Kataka, Shuddhi and College Kumara.
Remakes scored high, while horror didn’t see frightening success
Wheras 2016 saw 12 remakes, this year Kannada cinema had 17 remakes. While Pushpaka Vimana starring Ramesh Aravind was a remake of the Korean film Miracle in Cell No 7, a few filmmakers continued to take inspiration from Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Marathi films. Among them were Preethi Prema, Manasu Mallige, Pataka, Silicon City, Gowdru Hotel, Upendra Mathe Hutti Ba, Aake, Sathya Harischandra and Athiratha. In the horror genre, except for films such as Aake and Kataka, filmmakers did not have much luck scaring the audience.
Shivarajkumar had the most number of releases in 2017
With four films - Srikanta, Bangara s/o Bangarada Manushaya, Mass Leader and Mufti - Shivarajkumar lead the list of actors with the most releases this year. Following him was Ganesh with three films - Pataki, Mugulu Nagte and Chamak. Puneeth had Raajakumara and Anjaniputra, and Darshan had Chakravarthy and Tarak. Sudeep only had one release - Hebbuli, as did Dhruva Sarja with Bharjari.
Sruthi Hariharan tops with six releases
Among the female leads, Sruthi Hariharan came out on top with six films of hers out this year -- Beautiful Manasugalu, Urvi, Happy New Year, Vismaya, Tarak and Upendra Mathe Ba. Shanvi Srivastava had three releases - Saheba, Tarak and Mufti; as did Meghana Raj who had Zinda, Allamma, and Noorondu Nenapu. Shraddha Srinath had Urvi and Operation Alamelamma; Rashmika Mandanna starred in Anjaniputra and Chamak; Rachita Ram had Pushpaka Vimana and Bharjari; and Hariprriya had just one release in Bharjari.
Rishi and Manoranjan make an entry into Kannada cinema
A few artistes made a mark with their debut, notable among these were Rishi and Manoranjan. Though the former had a good start with Operation Alamelamma, the latter’s first film Saheba did not fare as well as was expected.
Gods did draw audiences
A few filmmakers tried their luck with devotional dramas, such as Bhagwad Sriramanuja, Shivarathri Srilingeshwara and Allama.
Handful of heroine-centric films
Though we saw a few heroine-centric films such as Urvi, Smuggler and Veera Ranachandi hit the screen, only debutant Adarsha Eshwarappa’s Shuddhi won critical acclaim and earned profits.
Children were entertained too
Children’s films such as Eleyaru Naavu Geleyaru, Puttani Safari, Keetle Krishna, Tab and Railway Children did well.
Dubbing enters industry, despite resistence
Though the industry has been fighting against dubbing for years now, a few films were dubbed in Kannada and screened. These included Ajith-starrers -- Yennai Arindal and Aarambam -- which were dubbed and released as Satyadev IPS and Deera, respectively. Though they met with lukewarm response, we can expect more dubbed movies in 2018.
Sandalwood lost artistes and producers this year including Rajkumar’s wife Parvathamma Rajkumar, B V Radha, Dhruva Sharma, R N Sudharshan and Padma Kumuta.
Happily ever after
There was happier news too, in the form of engagements and marriages -- Rakshit Shetty got engaged to Rashmika Mandanna and Chiranjeevi Sarja to Meghana Raj. Amulya wed Jagadish, Rishab Shetty got married to Pragathi Shetty, Suni to Soundarya, and Priyamani to Mustafa.