KGF-2, Kantara make a splash: Is Kannada cinema's golden era back?
Kannada films generated a lot of buzz in 2022, owing largely due to the popularity of blockbuster films like Prashanth Neel’s KGF: Chapter 2 and Rishab Shetty’s Kantara. Is Sandalwood’s golden era back? The numbers tell different story. As per reports, out of the 202 Kannada films that were released in 2022, only four films managed to recover their investments and earn profits.
The collective box-office collection of a clutch of Kannada films is more than Rs 2,000 crore. However, industry experts say there is a long way to go before the Kannada film industry strikes gold at the box office across India. The four films that recovered their production costs included Love Mocktail 2, KGF 2, Charlie 777 and Kantara. Two of the biggest hits in the country this year were produced by Hombale Films — KGF 2 and Kantara. Rakshit Shetty’s Charlie 777 earned over Rs 100 crore as it saw a pan-India release. Love Mocktail did well for itself in the Karnataka market.
According to trade sources, films like Vikrant Rona and Gaalipata 2, which are considered super hits, failed to recover their investment completely. Thus, only six films out of the 202 films that were released this year, made money. So, it effectively means 196 producers lost money.
Also read: Top 10 most profitable Tamil movies of 2022
Few takers for Kannada films on OTT
Kannada films have been releasing on OTT, but the numbers have been drastically low compared to other industries. OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+Hotstar and Voot have remained oblivious to the Kannada film industry. Zee5 picked up a few films in 2022, but a lot of films have not sold their satellite rights nor their OTT rights.
According to Yogi Dwarkish, well-known producer and distributor in Sandalwood, the lack of viewership for Kannada films is less in Karnataka even on OTT. “Kannada content is the fourth or fifth watched content (even) in Karnataka compared to other languages. So obviously, OTT platforms don’t invest much in Kannada films. OTT platforms were accessible to a few elite, top heroes and social-media-savvy actors in Kannada initially before and during the pandemic. However, it doesn’t make business sense for these platforms to invest in Kannada films. The only exceptional production house that managed to prove OTT platforms were wrong is Hombale films,” said Dwarkish.
Hombale Films to invest Rs 3000 cr on films
As per reports, Hombale Films, the production house behind films like KGF and Kantara, aims to invest Rs 3,000 crore in the Indian film industry in the coming five years.
Vijay Kiragandur, the founder of Hombale Films, said the company is planning to produce movies in all South languages. “We intend to invest Rs 3,000 crore for the next five years in the entertainment industry in India and hope the Entertainment industry will grow more in the coming years.”
Hombale Films is already working on big budget films with top actors in Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam. As per reports, Hombale is currently working with pan-India Prabhas-starrer Salaar; the multilingual film Dhoomam, starring Fahadh Faasil; Kannada movie Bagheera, and Tamil film Raghu Thatha, with Keerti Suresh. The production house has said that they have joined hands with writers and filmmakers in the Hindi film industry and hope to venture into Hindi cinema.
Soon after reports of Hombale Films investing such huge money on other language films came out, a few critics and netizens from Karnataka expressed their displeasure over the production house’s decision. They argued that KGF and Kantara gave the makers a pan-India presence and they should reinvest the money into the Kannada film industry.
Talking about the development, Dwarkish said that the production house’s decision to invest that money on films in other languages is the right choice. He said, “KGF: Chapter 2 collected about Rs 90-95 crore in Karnataka. The remaining 1000+ crore were earned from the dubbed version in other South Indian states. They earned half the money from the Hindi belt. Kantara earned about Rs 100 crore in Karnataka while the remaining big chunk of the money came from other states after the film was dubbed.”
He added that Hombale Films has shown the way to take Kannada films to pan-India level and there is nothing wrong if they invest in films in other languages. “In fact, we have started to look at Indian films without segregating it into North and South films or categorising them into other regional languages. Actors from different industries are collaborating on one film and the intention is to reach out to a wider audience. It’s a great move by Hombale,” Yogi Said.
‘Every star must make 2-3 films every year’
According to Dwarkish, more Kannada films can do well at the national and international level, if more A-list actors in Kannada start to do at least 2-3 films per year. “One film might not do well at the box office, locally or nationally, but producers need actors to give them another chance to try out another film. Hombale has shown the path and the onus is on other directors/actors/ producers to take Kannada cinema to greater heights. Our production house has taken a break for three years and we haven’t done a single film. That’s because we need to unlearn what we learnt over the last 30 years and get updated with a new narrative of storytelling. Marketing and placing a cinema have become as important as making a cinema today. We need to learn those skills to start making great films at the pan-India level,” he said.