Kannada Films – The Swamake and Remake Battle

I had a great start to this morning. As I logged into facebook, I saw that a friend of mine had shared a link and had said that the video belonged to an industry that makes a lot of original films. Well, by looking just at the thumbnail I couldn’t really identify the movie. But there was something that I noticed and that made me click the play button. That was the symbol of Sri Ganesh Video. It immediately struck me that it was a Kannada video. And, yes, I loved what I saw after that.

The video was from the movie, Minchina Ota, directed by Shankar Nag. It began with a jail custodian saying ‘All is well’. Yes, it had the same ‘All is well’ being repeated a couple of times by him and later by Ananth Nag. I don’t think anyone identified ‘All is well’ then, but now everyone would stop back and say, ‘hey, that’s from 3 Idiots’. Well, it started here! I don’t really remember the entire film, but I remember Loknath escaping from the jail. As a child I must have watched it a couple times as I used to love Shankar Nag and I somehow liked Loknath in the film. I happened to meet Loknath at a recent Kannada Film Awards in the city and at that very moment I remembered the scene from the same movie!

I later began to ponder about various issues that the industry is facing. The recent one being Basanth Kumar Patil’s bundh announcements. The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce is always in the news for all the wrong reasons. I wonder if there is some sense of insecurity that sets in when any big-budget film of some other language is set to release; especially a Rajni/ Chiru film. I remember visiting the KFCC office when Rajnikanth’s Kuselan was due for release. I would always wonder why would the members worry so much if they were making good films in Kannada. Back then, Jayamala was the president of the chamber. Well, this is how I look at the entire scenario.

At this point, I think the Kannada film industry is caught in the dilemma of making what they call as a ‘swamake or a remake’ film. The swamakes (originals) are harder to make is what most of them assume. Hence I have seen that most film makers opt for a quick adaptation of a Telugu or a Tamil film. Most of Sudeep and Puneeth Rajkumar’s films have been remakes of Telugu hits. Well, there are a few who opt for original ideas, but I don’t see quality in them.

Out of the last few Kannada films I watched, I thoroughly enjoyed Pancharangi. Directed by Yograj Bhat, I had high expectations and I think the film managed to meet all my expectations. I happen to be a Puneeth Rajkumar fan. Hence I ran to the theatres when Jackie released. The songs (written by Yograj Bhat) were mind blowing. I was hoping Suri would break away from his depiction of slum, poverty, rowdyism and have something fresh. But, I was disappointed. Recently I went for Gaana Bajana (another attempt at making an original). That too was a major let down. So, out of the 3 originals that I watched only 1 was worth watching. The rest were below average.

Now I’m looking forward to Puneeth’s next, which happens to be the remake of Nadodigal. I somehow have a feeling that the movie will be good. Now, is that a feeling that comes with the tag of Tamil/Telugu cinema – I don’t know.

I wish that the Kannada industry breaks away from this stigma and comes up with better movies. I know that we have great film makers here. It’s just about them using the right combination. I have noticed filmmakers like Sunil Kumar Desai, Prem and Suri have been caught in their own image of film making. They are the same people who gave us great hits with brilliant story lines. Somehow, it all seems scary now. I always wonder if the industry is deciding very unconsciously that remakes are a better bet or are they accepting the fact that their own film makers might not make worthy films. I don’t know.

As a movie lover all I want is a good film. Well, I’m hoping good films in Kannada would soon mean a healthy combination of originals to remakes. I know I have Upendra’s Super to look forward to. It’s going to be his directorial comeback so I’m sure is going to put in all his creativity. Then there is Prem’s Jogayya and Chandru’s Mylari (both starring Shivraj Kumar).

Upendra's Super

I have some hope that Kannada films will rise from dust and draw audiences back to the halls. Let us wait and watch.

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