The first ever Kannada film Sati Sulochana made in the year 1934. Totally 21 movies were made in 40’s. With 71 movies, there was a sudden jump in the number of movies made in 50’s.
Year 1954 is termed as the ‘Golden Year’ for Kannada film industry as the religious movie Bedara Kannappa produced in that year gave birth to 3 ever green artists : Raj kumar , Narasimha Raju and G.V. Iyer. Raj Kumar who started his career from this movie went to become ‘KING’ of Kannada movies till his last breadth. He literally ruled the Kannada film industry with his dedication in acting.
In the same decade Raj Kumar acted in 8 other movies while film industry saw the rise of other remarkable artists Uday Kumar and Kalyan Kumar.
70’s, the turning point
Starting from first colour movie Amara Shilpi Jakana Chari to first Kannada James Bond Movie CID 999 to Highest grossing movie Bangarada manushya which ran houseful for two and half years, with the first Cinemascope movie Sose thanda Soubhagya, first Triple Acting super duper Hit movie Shakar Guru starring Raj Kumar, 70’s saw major technical advancement and entry of new actors.
Another great star Vishnuvardhan, presently sitting Loksabha MP Mr Ambareesh and iconic director Mr Puttanna Kanagal’s combination churned out a super hit movie Nagara Havu. Shankar Nag’s Seetha Ramu was a huge hit. ‘Super Star’ Rajanikanth acted in a movie Sahodarara Sawal.
There were many first’s in 80’s and 90’s as well. Kamal Hasaan starrer, the first silent movie Pushpaka Vimana, ace director Manirathnam’s Pallavi Anupallavi starring Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor, Super hit movies like, Antha starring Ambareesh, Prema Loka starring Ravi Chandran, Anand, First film of Shivarajkumar, Son of Rajkumar, created a history. Other films, Kavirthna Kalidasa, Geetha, Bandhana, Nanjundi Kalyana, too did very well at the box office.
Post 2000, after successful director Upendra’s debutant movie ‘A’, all the film maker’s started making violent, cheap and double meaning movies. The low budget and quickly made movies made producers happy but killed the ‘classic’ trend of kannada movies.
Present MLC Jaggesh and director Upendra combination set a new trend with ‘low Budget’ and high grossing collection with generous sensual dialogs.
Compared to entertainment, action, award oriented, art, serious, offbeat, religious and social reform topic movies, there were few movies made on patriotism and freedom struggle.
While top directors BR Panthulu and Hunsur Krishnamurthy made films on freedom fighter’s life and achievement like Veera Sindhoora Lakshmana, Kittur Rani Chennamma and Kranthiveera Sangolli Rayanna, another set of veteran directors Rajendra Singh Babu, Baraguru Ramachandrappa, Nagathihalli Chandrashekar directed Muthina Hara, Hagalu vesha and America America respectively.
All the patriotic movies were highly successful at the box office.
Interestingly the lone MLA of Samajavadi Party in Karnataka, CP Yogeshwar produced a hit movie with a patriotic story line Sainika.
Rani Chennamma, queen of the princely state of Kittur in Karnataka led an armed rebellion against the British . BR Panthulu had directed the movie Kittur Rani Chennamma in 1962.
Sangolli Rayanna was the army chief of the Kingdom of Kittur ruled and he fought the British till his last breath. Director Naganna and producer Anand Appugol have made Kranthiveera Sangolli Rayanna with ‘Challenging Star’ Darshan playing the role of Rayanna, while Jayaprada performed the role of Chennamma. Earlier, a black & white movie was also made on his life.
Lakshmana is another freedom fighter who fought against the tyrannical rule of Britishers, who forced his own men to kill him. In the year 1977 film Veera Sindhoora Lakshmana, directed by Hunsur Krishnamurthy was released and marked its presence.
Another film Muthina Haara became a super hit in 1990. The film is about a soldier named Achappa from Madikeri, who fights in World War II and in India’s wars against Pakistan and China. Vishnuvardhan and Suhasini (wife of legendary director Mani Rathnam) played the leads in the movie.
GV Iyer’s Adi Shankara Charya, Madhwacharya, Vamshavruksha, Swami Vivekananda, Bhagvad Gita and Hamsageethe are still considered as ‘classic’ movies.
Director Kashinath’s sexual oriented movie Anubhava, Director Guru prasad’s sarcastic movies Mata, Eddelu Manjunatha and Director’s Choice was well received by kannada audiences.
However with the ‘Super Duper Hit’ movie Mungaru Male directed by Yogaraj Bhat and acted by Golden star Ganesh, entire film industry in the country started looking at Karnataka for a real entertainment movies. Chaitrada Premanjali, Jogi, Hucha, My Autograph, Sarathi, Hudugaru Rambo, Govindaya Namaha, Sangolli Rayanna, Adduri, Simpallagi Ondu Love Story, Bulbul, Lucia and other few movies created the record.
Actors like Shivaraj Kumar, Puneeth Raj Kumar, Darshan, Sudeep, Sarja, Loose Madha, Sitting MP Ramya, Andrita Ray, Radhika Pandit are still ruling the industry with their own fan following.