Thursday, December 06, 2007

Kannada movie; an afterthought

My knowledge of Kannada movies was strictly limited to the single source of entertainment channel in the mid-nineties. I used to wait for the Saturday evening show (later moved to Sunday evening) eagerly, hoping I could see Annavaru Dr. Rajkumar, "rebel star" Ambareesh, "Kottigobba" Vishnuvardhan, or the Nag brothers in action. Movies were plain and simple, and it always ended in a feel good factor. I was never into watching Kannada movies in cinema halls. But as the years went by, as different channels came into existence, I could not keep up with the pace of Kannada movies; not that it was way ahead, but sadly, it had fallen way behind the standards set by its regional peers. So, I moved away from the solitary source to keep track of other things, but I still made it a point to watch the movies played on DD9, the regional equivalent of DD1, as and when I caught the Kannada movie watching mindset.

Though I am not a big fan of Upendra, he brought some entertainment value to the industry. His movies were supposedly different from the conventional mainstream Kannada cinema. Now, now, that doesn't mean that Upendra was involved in art movies; he was an out and out commercial movie maker. He found an audience cutting across all age barriers that made my friends actually talk about watching his films in the hall. That was a big thing. For some reason, watching Kannada movies in the theater was an embarrassment to many; many did not want to admit that they watched one in the theater. That was not surprising considering the fact that the number of movies that could be watched with family declined considerably with time. Unfortunately, you really had to think more than twice before you spent money on a Kannada movie. Let alone watching in the halls, some of my friends did not appreciate my watching the DD9 movies too, ridiculing me to switch to other channels. The advent of Sudeep, Ramesh Arvind and a few others spiced up the industry. There was a much needed revival of the filmdom to bring back the audience. We had to look beyond the golden era of the seventies and eighties and walk out of the shadow of some of Kannada industry's greatest stalwarts to recreate the magic of the yesteryears.

The Nag brothers - Shankar Nag and Anant Nag were a revelation on the celluloid. I have had immense pleasure watching the complete series of SP Sangliana, a cop, played to perfection by the immensely talented Shankar Nag. His potential is very much evident as he took up the directorial venture of Malgudi Days, and got rave reviews for his efforts. It was a path breaking venture, and the simple episodes were way ahead of its time, as Malgudi was captured in the simple town of Agumbe to perfection. His untimely death was a big loss to the film industry, for he could have easily gone places with his acting and direction. Anant Nag had tremendous acting abilities, just like his brother, and was one, who could leave you mesmerized with his on-screen persona. His movies - Beladingala Bale, Aruna Raaga, Gowri Ganesha and Ganeshana Madhuve are movies that can be talked for a lifetime.

After meandering along, and actually now coming to the point, the Mungaru Male bug hit us big time. Everyone was talking about the movie. Friends, who I could not dream of them watching Kannada movies, told me that it was good. Released last year, the movie was running to packed houses in sophisticated cinema halls. That was something unheard of in Kannada filmdom in recent years. Everyone whom I met, and of course, those who knew Kannada, suggested me to watch the movie. I had listened to the songs, and to say the least, they are exceptional. They left me spellbound, as my player played all the songs on a repeat basis, and more importantly, often. I desperately wanted to see this movie, either online or by procuring a DVD. Kannada DVDs are not really popular in the US, and so I had to settle for an online print. The online print was not of great quality, and so I wanted to wait, till I had the best print. Luckily, here in Boston, thanks to a sizable Kannada population, but nowhere comparable to the Telugu population, the movie was screened sometime in October. Since my fellow Kannada mate was not in Boston at that time, I gave the movie a pass and hoped to view the screening later. Luckily for me, there was a screening of the movie last week, and we (read Chetan and I) couldn't be less excited. The last time I had seen a Kannada movie in the theater felt prehistoric. The theater in Boston resembled a mini Bangalore with everyone conversing in Kannada. It was a nice way to enter the theater with a feeling Wow, so many people speaking in Kannada!

The movie was just too good. The way the screenplay and other nuances of the movie were handled was totally commendable. We had great expectations from the movie, as the word of mouth factor played a big role in its popularity, and honestly, we were not at all disappointed. The movie was certainly not out of the world, as it was handling the good old cliched subject of Indian cinema, but the way the storyline was treated really impressed us. We were struck by the picturesque locations used for filming the movie. The locales were breathtaking. The ending of the movie was what actually impressed us the most. It was absolutely realistic, with no jarry melodrama. It was plain and simple, and it really hit the mark with us. We walked away with a very good feeling - What an ending and what a movie!!!

Just like anything else, I love to bother people after a movie. I quizzed Chetan, "OK, what would you do if you feel you have met the girl of your life just a week before your marriage? Would you stall the marriage and marry the newly met girl?" I knew it was a tough question for him, but obviously, family takes precedence in life, and his answer was obviously not surprising. He asked me "What would you do?" It was not all that difficult for me "Where is that elusive first girl in my life?" Both of us laughed our way back.

As I went home and called up my Kannada speaking friends, it was not surprising that most of them had seen it, since they were the ones who recommended the movie in the first place, one of them asked me "So, what sort of a girl do you want?" I remarked "Being conservative, would obviously expect a conservative girl in my life." "Guys are never conservative; it is the girls who decide how conservative guys can be!" A thought provoking statement indeed, and I did not tax my brain as to find out whether I have to agree to that or not. At the end of the day, I was still basking in the glory of having watched a good Kannada movie in the cinema hall after ages.


  1. Wow! That sounds like a great time you had watching the movie. I have to tell you this. I was in U.K last year end and we watched Don in one of the theaters and the crowd was so cold, although Indians, I did not enjoy at all. Then I returned and went to Bangalore. There I heard about Mungaaru Maley being a rage and guess what, I watched it in Majestic - Saagar theater!!!! And I enjoyed every minute of the movie, the loud shout by the front benchers, surrounded by kannadigas, I loved the movie and watched it again in Saagar! It was such a contrastic experience abroad and back home. Now I can imagine how it would've been to watch a kannada movie abroad with kannada audience!

    Getting back, I loved to watch Rajkumar movies, just because of so many fond memories of home, the only time when my whole family would sit and watch a movie and these memories are very precious to me. I loved Shankar Nag movies too, esp. Minchina Ota, what a movie!

    Wish you all the best with your girl! :-)

  2. Few good ones have come this year. plan to catch "Aa dinagalu" which is supposed to be very good, recommended by many.
    and yeah, shankar nag was a phenomenal director.
    I like Upendra directed movies too. i dont think u have seen any except "A". see "OM" and "Upendra". both are good.

  3. GK,

    Agree with you totally.....I used to watch most of Annavru's movies at Navrang theater (does it ring a bell) and Shivanna's "OM" at Pramod theater....but later on just on TV ......Shankar Nag was a genius...its a pity he died young. As for Uppi, his movies are nice but i still feel he is a better "director" than actor. His "Tharle Nan Maga" with my fav Jaggesh is my all time favorite....have u watched it?... If u and Chetan are interested, I can send you that movie along with Superstar Rajni's old movies

  4. Chiroti,
    Yeah, watching a Kannada movie with a Kannada crowd is an unbeatable feeling, and if the movie is as good as Mungaru Male, the fun is absolutely wholesome. Only when you leave home do you realize the importance of home and also the fact that how much you miss home really sinks in. We try to make do in whatever way we can not to miss the simple things back home. You were lucky to watch it in Saagar theater. That is one of the good theaters in Bangalore.

    You won't believe it, but we were planning to watch Minchina Ota this weekend. Shankar Nag is a genius and is always a pleasure to watch his movies.

    And yes, as far as your last sentence is concerned, I need a lot of good wishes :-) Thanks!!!

    Yeah, even I heard that there are some good movies this year. Dhuniya is another good movie to make the ranks this year. What about the music this year man; some of the songs are just great. Have you heard the song Preethse antha praana thinnu premi neenu yaaru from the movie Excuse Me? Superbly rendered by Bombay Jayashree. The songs from the movie Milana are pretty good too!! So you got to do some catching up I guess :-) Yeah, I have seen Upendra but it didn't impress me much.

    Guruve, I am from KLE, so why in the world won't I know Navarang theater. Om was supposed to be a landmark movie in Kannada cinema. Yeah, Jaggesh is fun to watch, and especially Tarle Nan maga. We watched it with a huge gang here, and we had so much fun!!! It is like a Phd movie in Kannada filmdom and obviously you know the reasons :-)

    This post has already made me nostalgic about Bangalore, as if I wasn't already!!!

  5. I was actually forced to see the movie twice. Once with family, and once with cousins. There was a rumour that Mungaaru Male 2 was in the making, but actress Ramya decided to back out, so I don;t know what they'll do now. The 2nd movie is supposed to have continued from atop the waterfalls when Ganesh tries to fall off the waterfall after the incident and is rescued by this pretty girl and a new romance blooms.

  6. Lakshmi,
    Ramya? But, did Sanjana (Pooja) Gandhi snap out of the second part? I did read that Mungaru Male 2 was in the making, but that's about it. Haven't followed the reports closely to find out what it is all about.

  7. Hey guys, good to see the amount of interest you guys have in kannada films, i am a software engg but immensly interested in film making, i actually found ur blog when i gave a search in google for a kannada film that didnt even get released :P it was called Happy new year or some thing, i have seen MM twice, but i really didnt like it so much, i rather enjoyed your discription about that film :P ya duniya was better i felt, was just wondering if any of you have seen a film called "Mata" ur favorite jaggesh acted in that too, i feel this was a master piece, it was like upendra part 2! awesome story, superb direction and most importatnly what a humourous script! when we came out of the theater we just had 2 words for the film, hats off!!


  8. Anirudh,
    Thanks for the comment!! Good luck with your film making. I have heard a lot about this movie Duniya, though I haven't got a chance to catch up with that one. Jaggesh movies are fun to watch with a group of guys. Tarle Nan Maga actually had us in splits!!! :-)

  9. By the the write up is really nice and has your feelings in it, I just want to you to add inputs of Ravichandran to kannada films, What ever he did with new or remake movies it was totally different and new in the entire south film industry, I am not a fan of ravi but i like all his movies specially the songs

  10. nice information, for Kannad films do visit this site. KANNADA MOVIES