KGF, Kantara effect: Kannada cinema plots unexplored territories

The success of films like ‘KGF’, ‘Vikrant Rona’, ’Charlie 777’ and ’Kantara’ propel Kannada filmmakers to experiment with content. The forthcoming releases include a zombie film, a period fantasy and a futuristic thriller.

Kantara-Rishab Shetty
The success of Rishab Shetty’s Kantara has boosted the confidence of filmmakers in Kannada.

The Kannada film industry has caught the fancy of viewers across the country with its unique content in the last couple of years. The days ahead will see the release of movies dwelling on diverse subjects that have never been touched upon in the history of the Kannada film industry.

Concepts unique to Kannada audience

Director Prem will be seen playing the hero in his next yet-to-be-titled film. Directed by M. Shashidhar, it is touted to be Kannada’s first-ever film based on zombies. A poster released by the makers shows Prem facing nearly a dozen zombies who are trying to attack him.

While this would be Prem’s sixth film as an actor, Shashidhar dons the directorial hat for the second time; his first film, Gharga, is yet to be released. Prem will not just be acting, he is also one of the producers of the movie. The Kannada film industry has never produced a film based on zombies and the concept is new and unique to the general Kannada audience.

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Actor Abhishek Ambareesh’s fourth film, currently being referred as AA04, is said to be an action-packed period fantasy film. Abhishek will be playing the role of a warrior. The film’s motion poster shows Abhishek donning a metal body suit and armoury and brandishing a mighty sword. Directed by Mahesh Kumar, the film dates back hundreds of years ago and shows Abhishek soaked in blood. This is Mahesh’s third outing as a director and the film is produced by none other than Rockline Venkatesh.

Also read: Kantara’s success welcome but let’s not overlook its flaws

Upendra’s first pan-India film

The title of Superstar fame Upendra’s 11th film as a director is assumed to be UI by fans and the film fraternity. ‘Real Star Upendra’ is known to remain tight-lipped about all the films he directs and has made it a habit to not even reveal the title of his film. The same is true with UI as well. However, photos from the sets were leaked recently, showing Upendra in a completely new avatar. The actor can be seen surrounded by cameras. As per reports, the actor/director used 100 cameras for that scene. Upendra is known to come up with unique concepts/designs whenever he directs a film. It is said that the superstar will be using the latest technology in films to ensure that his first pan-India film will offer something special to the audience.

A futuristic thriller

Filmmaker Anup Bhandari, who had directed Kichcha Sudeep in Vikrant Rona, had announced that his next film would be Billa Ranga Baashaa, starring Sudeep again. In fact, the film will also be produced by the actor. The movie is said to be a futuristic thriller set in 2209 AD. Even though the announcement was made long ago, there are not many details available with regard to Billa Ranga Baashaa. In fact, Anup had told the media that he is currently working on three scripts for Kichcha Sudeep. They are titled Billa Ranga Baashaa, Ashwathama and Vikrant Rona 2. The filmmaker had claimed that the three scripts are in different stages of writing and Sudeep will take a call on which film to start first once the scripts are finalised.

Several other films starring superstars with unique and fresh concepts are being rolled out in the Kannada film industry. The ’60 s to the ’80s were considered to be the golden era for the Kannada film industry as Kannada films became blockbusters and several film industries in India and abroad looked towards Karnataka for content. Now, it looks like those days are back again.

KGF: Chapter 1
KGF: Chapter 1 surprised everyone with its collections

The pathbreaker: KGF franchise

Kannada filmmakers often played it safe by remaking hit films of other industries. Several superstars in the industry were open to the remake idea as they wanted to make the producer safe. However, one film changed the course of the Kannada film industry.
The KGF franchise broke records and set a new path for the Kannada film industry. As per reports, KGF: Chapter 1 was made with a budget of Rs 80 crore, and in 2018, nobody would believe that a Kannada film could collect such a huge amount at the box office. However, KGF: Chapter 1 surprised everyone with its collections. The second instalment was completed with a bigger budget and its collection remains the highest ever for a Kannada film.

Also read: Interview | Rishab Shetty on Kantara: ‘Local is the new global’

There is no doubt that the success of the KGF franchise gave other big heroes the confidence to bet big and try new and innovative subjects. Kichcha Sudeep’s Vikrant Rona was a fantasy suspense thriller made at a whopping budget of Rs 75 crore. The film didn’t have the mass appeal that a regular Sudeep film would have, but drew scores to the theatres, especially the family audience.

Rakshit Shetty spent nearly three years completing Charlie 777. The movie, based on a human’s relationship with a dog, has done well, too. The success of Rishab Shetty’s Kantara has boosted the confidence of filmmakers in Kannada. They are now a lot more confident that good content has an audience not just in Karnataka but across the country.

Film critic M Sagar said, “Had Kantara not been such a big hit, insiders in the film industry would have mocked Hombale films for investing nearly Rs 10 crore on Rishab Shetty and a storyline that belonged to the coastal region. Now, filmmakers have realised that the audience will watch a movie irrespective of where the film is based as long as the narrative and performance are great.”

Is the golden era of Kannada cinema back?

Kannada filmmakers and actors are daring to experiment with content, trying new and innovative concepts in their recent films. Luckily for them, even big producers are willing to back their idea. Thanks to the success of KGF, Vikrant Rona, Charlie 777 and Kantara, filmmakers now have the freedom to think out of the box and come up with ingenious concepts. Now, almost every big Kannada film is being released pan-India and producers are also confident of recovering their money.

A new trend has certainly begun in the Kannada film industry and many believe that the golden days are back for Sandalwood, as Kannada Cinema is widely known. It will be interesting to see if Kannada filmmakers can keep up the momentum and deliver on a consistent basis with their new concepts and compelling storytelling.

Also Read: Mangaluru Days: Why Kannada director Raj B Shetty is the talk of the country

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