Kannada cinema

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Kannada cinema
India film clapperboard.svg
No. of screens
  • 650 Single screens
  • 260 multiplex screens [1]
  Per capita1.3 per 1,00,000
Main distributors Mahatma Pictures
Sri Vajreshwari Combines
Sri Eswari Combines
KCN Movies
Rockline Entertainments
Jayanna Combines
Thoogudeepa Distributors
Paramvah Studios
Pushkar Films
Hombale Films
Produced feature films (2019) [2]

Kannada cinema, also known as Sandalwood, Kannada Film Industry or Chandanavana, [3] is the segment of Indian cinema [4] dedicated to the production of motion pictures in the Kannada language widely spoken in the state of Karnataka. [5] [6] [7] The 1934 film Sati Sulochana directed by Y. V. Rao was the first talkie film in the Kannada language. [8] [9] [10] It was also the first film starring Subbaiah Naidu and Tripuramba, and was the first motion picture screened in the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom. [11] The film was produced by Chamanlal Doongaji, who in 1932 founded South India Movietone in Bangalore. [12] [13]


Major literary works have been adapted to the Kannada screen such as B. V. Karanth's Chomana Dudi (1975), Girish Karnad's Kaadu (1973), Pattabhirama Reddy's Samskara (1970) (based on a novel by U. R. Ananthamurthy), which won the Bronze Leopard at Locarno International Film Festival, [14] and T. S. Nagabharana's Mysuru Mallige (based on the works of acclaimed poet K. S. Narasimhaswamy). [15]

Kannada cinema is known for producing experimental works such as Girish Kasaravalli's Ghatashraddha (1977), which won the Ducats Award at the Manneham Film Festival Germany, [16] Dweepa (2002), which won Best Film at Moscow International Film Festival, [17] [18] Singeetam Srinivasa Rao's silent film Pushpaka Vimana (1987), screened at the Cannes Film Festival and Prashanth Neel's historical drama, K.G.F: Chapter 1 (2018), [19] [20] which became the first Kannada language film to have grossed ₹250 crores worldwide at the box office. [21]


Early history

Kannada film doyen Honnappa Bhagavathar Honnappa Bhagavathar 1948.jpg
Kannada film doyen Honnappa Bhagavathar
Rajkumar on a 2009 stamp in India Rajkumar 2009 stamp of India.jpg
Rajkumar on a 2009 stamp in India

In 1934, the first Kannada talkie, Sati Sulochana , [22] appeared in theatres, followed by Bhakta Dhruva (aka Dhruva Kumar). Sati Sulochana, starring Subbaiah Naidu and Tripuramba in lead roles, was shot in Kolhapur at the Chatrapathi studio; most filming, sound recording, and post-production was done in Chennai. [23]

In 1949, Honnappa Bhagavathar, who had earlier acted in Gubbi Veeranna's films, produced Bhakta Kumbara and starred in the lead role along with Pandaribai. In 1955, Bhagavathar again produced a Kannada film, Mahakavi Kalidasa , in which he introduced actress B. Saroja Devi. [23] B. S. Ranga was an Indian photographer, actor, writer, producer and director made many landmark movies in Kannada, under Vikram Studios. [24]


Matinee idol, Rajkumar entered Kannada cinema after his long stint as a dramatist with Gubbi Veeranna's Gubbi Drama Company, which he joined at the age of eight, before he got his first break as a lead in the 1954 film Bedara Kannappa . [25]

He went on to essay a variety of roles and excelling in portraying mythological and historical characters in films such as Bhakta Kanakadasa (1960), Ranadheera Kanteerava (1960), Satya Harishchandra (1965), Immadi Pulikeshi (1967), Sri Krishnadevaraya (1970), Bhakta Kumbara (1974), Mayura (1975), Babruvahana (1977) and Bhakta Prahlada (1983). His wife Parvathamma Rajkumar founded Film production and distribution company, Vajreshwari Combines. [25]

Method actor Shankar Nag received the inaugural IFFI Best Actor Award (Male): Silver Peacock Award" at the 7th International Film Festival of India for his work in the film Ondanondu Kaladalli . [26] He is the younger brother of actor Anant Nag. [27] [28] M. V. Vasudeva Rao, the first Kannada actor to win National Film Award for Best Actor, was starred in over 200 films in his career; however, post Chomana Dudi , he only played minor roles. [29]

Vishnuvardhan entered Kannada cinema with the National Award-winning movie Vamshavruksha (1972) directed by Girish Karnad based on the novel written by S. L. Bhyrappa. His first lead role was in Naagarahaavu , directed by Puttanna Kanagal and based on a novel by T. R. Subba Rao. It was the first in Kannada film history to complete 100 days in three main theatres of Bangalore. In his 37-year career, he has played a variety of roles in more than 200 films. [30]

With his debut in Puttanna Kanagal's National Award-winning Kannada film Naagarahaavu (1972), Ambareesh's acting career commenced with a brief phase of portraying antagonistic and supporting characters. After establishing himself as a lead actor portraying rebellious characters on screen in a number of commercially successful films, he earned the moniker "rebel star". [31] He also earned the nickname Mandyada Gandu (English: Man of Mandya) [32]

B. Saroja Devi is One of the most successful female leads in the history of Indian cinema, she acted in around 200 films in over six decades. [33] [34] She is known by the epithets "Abinaya Saraswathi" (Saraswati of acting) in Kannada and "Kannadathu Paingili" (Kannada's Parrot) in Tamil. [34]

Neo-realistic cinema

Kannada Cinema majorly contributed to the Parallel Cinema movement of India. [35] Directors like Girish Kasaravalli, [35] Girish Karnad, [36] G. V. Iyer [36] were the early names to join the movement. T. S. Nagabharana [37] and BV Karanth were also popular names in the movement. Puttanna Kanagal's films were however considered a bridge between Mainstream and Parallel Cinema.

Modern era

Prakash Raj began his acting career with Doordarshan serials such as Bisilu Kudure (Kannada) and Guddada Bhootha (Tulu and Kannada). [38] He later took up supporting roles in Kannada films such as Ramachari, Ranadheera , Nishkarsha and Lockup Death . He was known for his dialogue delivery and histrionics. His breakthrough role came in Harakeya Kuri , directed by K. S. L. Swamy starring Vishnuvardhan, with whom he had acted in other films such as Mithileya Seetheyaru , Muthina Haara and Nishkarsha . Prakash re-entered Kannada films through Nagamandala in 1997, directed by T. S. Nagabharana. [39] Veteran Kannada actor Shakti Prasad's son Arjun Sarja is known for his work in South Indian cinema. [40] He starred in movies such as Prasad; the film was screened at the Berlin Film Festival and Arjun received the Karnataka State Award for his performance in it. [41]

Sanchari Vijay's portrayal of a transgender won him the National Best Actor Award. [42] [43] [44] With the award, Vijay became the third actor after M. V. Vasudeva Rao, and Charuhasan to win the National Award for Best Actor for a performance in a Kannada film. [45]

Shiva Rajkumar is known for his work in Janumada Jodi , Anand , Ratha Sapthami , Nammoora Mandara Hoove , Om , Simhada Mari and Chigurida Kanasu . He acted in Sugreeva , which was shot in 18 hours. His Om , directed by Upendra, set a trend of gangster movies in Kannada and other film industries in India. It continues to be shown even to this day. [46]

Rockline Venkatesh founded Rockline Entertainments which has produced over twenty five films as of 2012. [47] New age actors - Yash, Darshan, Puneeth Rajkumar, Rakshith Shetty and Sudeep are some of the highest paid actors in Sandalwood. [48] [49] [50] The Rakshith Shetty starrer Kirik Party went on to become one of the highest-grossing Kannada films by collecting ₹ 50 crores [51] against a production budget ₹ 4 crores [52] and completed 150 days in the main cities of Karnataka. [53]

The 2015 release RangiTaranga starring Nirup Bhandari and directed by Anup Bhandari, created overseas market for Kannada cinema with a mega release, amassing $318,000 in USA alone. It went on to become the first Kannada film to enter the New York Box office listing, the first Kannada film to complete 50 days in USA and the first Kannada movie ever to release in several countries across the world. It ran for 365 days in Bangalore.

In 2018, Yash starrer K.G.F: Chapter 1 became the first Kannada film to gross ₹100 crores and ₹200 crores at the box office. Its sequel, K.G.F: Chapter 2, slated to release in 2021, gained more than 197 million views on YouTube as of July 2021. [54] [55]

Film scores

Composer Hamsalekha is usually referred to by the title Naadha Brahma (English: The Brahma of Music) who is considered to be the major cause for the change in the music composing and lyric writing style which would appeal much to the younger generation. He integrated folk and introduced western musical sensibilities into the Kannada cinema. [56] [57]

Mano Murthy scored the blockbuster film Mungaru Male starring Ganesh and Pooja Gandhi. Upon the album's release, it topped the charts with the song "Anisuthide" receiving significant radio and TV air time. [58] The album emerged as a massive success topping every Kannada music chart. It was reported that by mid-May 2007, over 200,000 copies were sold in compact discs. [59]

Film institutions

Film schools

The first government institute in India to start technical courses related to films was established in 1941 named as occupational institute then called the Sri Jayachamarajendra (S J) Polytechnic in Bangalore. In September 1996, two specialized courses, Cinematography and Sound & Television were separated and the Government Film and Television Institute was started at Hesaraghatta, under the World Bank Assisted Project for Technician Development in India. [60]




Dadasaheb Phalke Awardees

1995 Rajkumar Actor

National Film Award for Best Feature Film

1970 Samskara Pattabhirama Reddy Pattabhirama Reddy
1975 Chomana Dudi B. V. Karanth Praja Films
1977 Ghatashraddha Girish Kasaravalli Sadanand Suvarna
1986 Tabarana Kathe Girish Kasaravalli Girish Kasaravalli
1997 Thaayi Saheba Girish Kasaravalli Jayamala
2001 Dweepa Girish Kasaravalli Soundarya

State awards

Karnataka Chalanachitra Kalavidara Sangha in Chamrajapet Karnataka Chalanachitra Kalavidara Sangha-img.jpg
Karnataka Chalanachitra Kalavidara Sangha in Chamrajapet

State film festivals

Other awards

Highest-grossing Kannada films

1 K.G.F: Chapter 1 2018 Prashanth Neel Hombale Films 250 crore (US$35 million) [70]
2 Kurukshetra 2019 Naganna Vrushabhadri Productions90 crore (US$13 million) [70]
3 Roberrt 2021 Tharun Sudhir Umapathy Films

78.36 crore (US$11 million)

4 Raajakumara 2017 Santhosh Ananddram Hombale Films 75 crore (US$11 million) [72]
5 Mungaru Male 2006 Yograj Bhat E. K. Entertainers70 crore (US$9.8 million) [73]
6 The Villain 2018 Prem Thanvi Shanvi Films60 crore (US$8.4 million) [74]
7 Avane Srimannarayana 2019Sachin Ravi Pushkar Films, Paramvah Studios and Sri Devi Entertainers56 crore (US$7.9 million) [70]
8 Pailwaan 2019 S. Krishna RRR Motion Pictures53 crore (US$7.4 million) [75]
9 Yajamana 2019 Pon Kumaran and V. Harikrishna Media House Studio50 crore (US$7.0 million) [76]
Kirik Party 2016 Rishab Shetty Paramvah Studios [77]
Mr. and Mrs. Ramachari 2014 Santhosh Ananddram Jayanna Combines [78]
10 Doddmane Hudga 2016 Duniya Soori Ajay Pictures40 crore (US$5.6 million) [79]
Uppi 2 2015 Upendra Upendra Productions [80]
Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna 2012 Naganna Sri Sangolli Rayanna Cine Combines [81]

See also

Related Research Articles

Dr Rajkumar Indian Kannada film actor, singer

Singanalluru Puttaswamaiah Muthuraj, better known by his stage name Dr. Rajkumar, was an Indian film actor and playback singer in the Kannada cinema. Widely acclaimed as one of the greatest actors in the history of Indian cinema and a versatile actor, he is considered a cultural icon and holds a matinée idol status in the Kannada diaspora, among whom he is popularly adulated as Nata Saarvabhouma, Bangarada Manushya, Vara Nata, Gaana Gandharva, Rasikara Raja, Kannada Kanteerava and Rajanna / Annavru. He was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 1983 and also received several national and state awards. He is the only lead actor to win National Award for singing. His films have been remade more than 50 times in various languages—33 movies have been remade 55 times in 7 languages. On the Centenary of Indian cinema in April 2013, Forbes included Rajkumar's performance in the film Bangaarada Manushya on its list of 25 Greatest Acting Performances of Indian Cinema. Upon his death, The New York Times had described him as one of India's most popular movie stars.

Vishnuvardhan (actor) Indian actor (born 1950)

Sampath Kumar, known by his stage name Vishnuvardhan, was an Indian film actor predominantly in Kannada cinema. He appeared in more than 220 films all together in Kannada, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu. He was called The Phoenix of Indian Cinema. He made his debut in the 1972 film, Vamsha Vriksha, in a supporting role. The same year he played the lead role in Puttanna Kanagal's Naagarahaavu, and was recognized as 'The Angry Young Man of Kannada Cinema'. He has played a variety of roles in different genres.

Puneeth Rajkumar Indian actor, singer (born 1975)

Puneeth Rajkumar is an Indian actor, playback singer, television presenter, and producer who works primarily in Kannada cinema. He has been a lead actor in 29 films; as a child, he appeared in many films. His performances in Vasantha Geetha (1980), Bhagyavantha (1981), Chalisuva Modagalu (1982), Eradu Nakshatragalu (1983), Bhakta Prahaladha, Yarivanu and Bettada Hoovu (1985) were praised. He won the National Film Award for Best Child Artist for his role of Ramu in Bettada Hoovu. He also won Karnataka State Award Best Child artist for Chalisuva Modagalu and Yeradu Nakshatragalu. Puneeth's first lead role was in 2002's Appu. He has been dubbed by media and fans as "Powerstar".

<i>Jogi</i> (film) 2005 Indian film

Jogi is a 2005 Indian Kannada action film written and directed by Prem. It stars Shiva Rajkumar, Jennifer Kotwal and Arundathi Nag in the lead roles. Jogi was released on 19 August 2005. Record box office collection was reported across Karnataka and the movie completed 100 days in more than 61 theaters. The film was noted for its technical prowess, colloquial Kannada dialogue and lyrics. Its story revolves around an old lady who comes to the city from her village in search of her presumably lost son. It was remade in Telugu as Yogi with Prabhas and Nayantara as well as in Tamil as Parattai Engira Azhagu Sundaram starring Dhanush and Meera Jasmine.

<i>Naagarahaavu</i> 1972 Indian film

Naagarahaavu (transl. Cobra) is a 1972 Indian Kannada-language film directed by Puttanna Kanagal, based on T. R. Subba Rao's three novels Nagarahavu, Ondu Gandu Eradu Hennu and Sarpa Mathsara, and starring Vishnuvardhan, Aarathi, K. S. Ashwath and Shubha in lead roles. The supporting cast features Leelavathi, Ambareesh, Shivaram, Dheerendra Gopal, Lokanath and Vajramuni. This is the first Kannada movie to complete 100 days in three centres. This film was remade in Hindi as Zehreela Insaan, directed by Puttanna Kanagal himself and in Tamil as Raja Nagam and Kode Nagu in Telugu.

<i>Mungaru Male</i> 2006 Indian film

Mungaru Male is a 2006 Indian Kannada-language romantic drama film co-written and directed by Yogaraj Bhat, and produced by E. Krishnappa. It stars Ganesh, Pooja Gandhi and Anant Nag. The film is believed to have shaped and strengthened the careers of Ganesh, Pooja Gandhi, director Yograj Bhat, lyricist Jayant Kaikini, choreographers A. Harsha, Imran Sardaria, composer Mano Murthy and others in Kannada cinema, and made Bollywood playback singers Sonu Nigam, Kunal Ganjawala, Udit Narayan, Sunidhi Chauhan and Shreya Ghoshal popular in Karnataka.

Pooja Gandhi

Pooja Gandhi is an Indian actress and producer who mainly works in Kannada and Tamil language films. Gandhi after starring in the commercially successful 2006 film Mungaru Male, became one of the most popular and highest paid actresses in Kannada cinema and also the recipient of several awards, including an honarary Doctorate. Gandhi is popularly referred as Male Hudugi in the media and Kannada film industry. Gandhi has acted in over 50 films in a decade. The Banglore Times placed her in the list of "25 Most Desirable Women of 2012".

Ganesh (actor) Indian actor and television presenter

Ganesh Kishan, known mononymously as Ganesh, is an Indian actor and television presenter known for his work in Kannada cinema, Through his career in films and television shows, he has become one of the most popular celebrities and highest-paid actors in Kannada cinema. He is the recipient of several awards, including two Filmfare Awards. He became famous after starring in the film Mungaru Male (2006).

Yogaraj Bhat Indian Kannada filmmaker

Yogaraj Bhat is an Indian Kannada film director, screenwriter, lyricist and producer. He is most known for the 2006 film Mungaru Male. The film recorded the highest box-office collections in the history of Kannada cinema at the time of its release and the longest running film at a multiplex. He is considered as a cult filmmaker in the industry who brought a new wave of freshness to cinemas through his films, dialogues and songs. Bhat is given the credit of introducing some of the very talented technicians and artists to the film industry.

Tara (Kannada actress) Indian actress and politician

Anuradha, known by her stage name Tara, is an Indian actress, known for her work in Kannada cinema, and politician. She joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2009 and is currently a nominated member of the Karnataka Legislative Council.

Yash (actor) Indian actor

Naveen Kumar Gowda, better known by his stage name Yash, is an Indian actor who works mainly in Kannada language films. He is one the highest-paid actors in Kannada film industry.

B. Vijaya Reddy, better known as Vijay Reddy or Vijay, was an Indian film director who worked primarily in Kannada cinema with over 50 movies to his credit. His debut directorial venture was Rangamahal Rahasya (1970). He was known for his collaborations with leading Kannada actor Rajkumar for movies like Gandhada Gudi (1973), Mayura (1975), Naa Ninna Mareyalare (1976) and Sanaadi Appanna (1977) which are considered among the classic movies of Kannada cinema.

Leelavathi (actress) Indian actress, producer

Leelavathi is an Indian actress who worked in Kannada, Tamil and Telugu films. She has acted with actors such as Rajkumar, Vishnuvardhan, M. G. Ramachandran, N. T. Rama Rao, Sivaji Ganeshan, Gemini Ganesan, Shankar Nag, Kamal Hassan, Rajinikanth, Chiranjeevi, V Ravichandran, Sudeep and various popular artists. She has acted in more than 600 films throughout her career for more than 50 years. Her performance in Naagarahaavu, Avargal are remembered and prominent among the people.

Rakshit Shetty Indian actor and filmmaker

Rakshit Shetty is an Indian actor and filmmaker who is best known for his work in Kannada cinema. His films are known for urban legends, Indian folklore, nonlinear storylines, extended scenes of dialogue, references to Indian mythology and a wide variety of other films.

<i>Mr. and Mrs. Ramachari</i> 2014 Indian film

Mr. and Mrs. Ramachari is a 2014 Indian Kannada romantic action comedy film written and directed by Santhosh Ananddram and produced by the duo Jayanna and Bhogendra under the banner Jayanna Combines. It stars Yash and Radhika Pandit in the lead roles. The supporting cast features Srinath, Achyuth Kumar and Malavika Avinash. The story revolves around two characters: a tearaway and hot-headed youngster, Ramachari, who is a diehard fan of Vishnuvardhan, and his love interest, the sophisticated Divya.

S. Shivaram, popularly known simply as Shivaram or Shivaramanna, is an Indian actor, producer and director whose Kannada cinema career has spanned six decades. He has played roles including lead hero performances, character roles, comedic roles, as well as supporting parts. He teamed up with his elder brother, S. Ramanathan and produced several films under the name Rashi Brothers apart from directing Hrudaya Sangama in 1972. The brothers together produced few Bollywood films as well. As an actor, Shivaram has the distinction of working with many stalwart directors out of which his association with Puttanna Kanagal is much remembered. He has been a part of all the seven Kannada movies directed by Singeetam Srinivasa Rao starring Rajkumar.

Santhosh Ananddram is an Indian film lyric writer, screenwriter, director who works in Kannada cinema. He rose to fame with his debut directional venture 2014 film Mr. and Mrs. Ramachari. He later went on and directed Kannada Star Puneeth Rajkumar in Raajakumara, which was considered to be an all time industry hit in Kannada cinema.

Rashmika Mandanna Indian actress and model

Rashmika Mandanna is an Indian actress and model who works predominantly in Telugu and Kannada language films. She has received a Filmfare Award and a South Indian International Movie Awards.

Hemanth M. Rao is an Indian film director and screenwriter who works in Kannada cinema. He rose to fame following the success of his directorial debut Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu (2016).

R. Chittibabu was an Indian cinematographer, who worked primarily in Kannada cinema, Karnataka. He became a cinematographer in the early 1950s, working on about hundred films in the Film industry, most of which starred Dr. Rajkumar in the lead role and were highly successful in the box-office. R. Chittibabu is famously known for the movies Kasturi Nivasa(1971), Naagarahaavu(1972), Naa Ninna Mareyalare(1976), Bayalu Daari(1976), Huliya Haalina Mevu(1979), Chakravyuha.


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