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Kannada cinema, also known as Chandanavana,[3] which means Sandalwood in Kannada is Indian cinema with dialogue in the Kannada language. Kannada Film Industry (Sandalwood) is the fourth largest film industry in India. As of 2013, the Kannada film industry based in Bengaluru, Karnataka, produces more than 150 films each year.[4]Kannada films are released in a total of 950 single screen theatres in Karnataka and most of them are also released across the country and in the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, UAE, Singapore, Australia and other countries.[5][6]

Kannada cinema
PVR cinema bangalore.jpg
PVR Cinemas In Bengaluru
No. of screens 950 Single-screens in Karnataka
Main distributors Vajreshwari Combines
KCN Movies
Jayanna Combines
Yograj Creations
Mysore Talkies
KRG Studios
Radical Frames (Rest of India)
Produced feature films (2016)[1]
Total 187
Gross box office (2016)[2]
National films India: 1,150 crore (US$180 million)[2]

The first government institute in India to start technical courses related to films was established in 1941 named as occupational institute then called the Sri Jayachamarajendra (S J) Polytechnic in Bengaluru. In September 1996, two specialized courses, Cinematography and Sound & Television were separated and the Government Film and Television Institute was started at Hesaraghatta, under the World Bank Assisted Project for Technician Development in India.[7] The industry is known for Kannada language literary works, being translated into motion pictures. Some of the works which received global acclaim include B. V. Karanth's Chomana Dudi (1975), Girish Karnad's Kaadu (1973), Pattabhirama Reddy's Samskara (1970) (based on a novel by U. R. Ananthamurthy), which won Bronze Leopard at Locarno International Film Festival,[8] and Girish Kasaravalli's Ghatashraddha (1977) which won the Ducats Award at the Manneham Film Festival Germany.[9][10][11]

Films such as Bedara Kannappa (1954), School Master, Vamshavruksha (1971), Bhootayyana Maga Ayyu (1974), Ghatashraddha (1977), Kaadu Kudure (1979), Bara (1979), Ranganayaki (1981), Accident (1985), Pushpaka Vimana (1987), Tabarana Kathe (1987), Kraurya (1996), Thaayi Saheba (1997), A (1998), Mane (2000), Dweepa (2002), Mungaru Male (2006), Dandupalya (2012), Lucia (2013) and RangiTaranga (2015) and Thithi (2016) are considered landmark films in Kannada.[12][13]


Early historyEdit

Kannada film doyen Honnappa Bhagavathar

In 1934, the first Kannada talkie, Sati Sulochana,[14] appeared in theatres, followed by Bhakta Dhruva (aka Dhruva Kumar). Sati Sulochana was shot in Kolhapur at the Chatrapathi studio; most filming, sound recording, and post-production was done in Chennai. In 1949, Honnappa Bhagavathar, who had earlier acted in Gubbi Veeranna's films, produced Bhakta Kumbara and starred in the lead role along with Pandaribai. In 1955, Bhagavathar again produced a Kannada film, Mahakavi Kalidasa, in which he introduced actress B. Saroja Devi.[15]


Rajkumar became a gadha during this period working solely in Kannada film industry. His wife Parvathamma Rajkumar founded Film production and distribution company, Vajreshwari Combines. Vamshavruksha, Prema Karanth's Phaniyamma, Kaadu Kudure, Hamsageethe, Accident, Akramana, Mooru Daarigalu, Tabarana Kathe, Bannada Vesha and Puttanna Kanagal's Naagarahaavu were released. Vishnuvardhan and Ambareesh were the two stars born from the film Naagarahaavu. Rajkumar and Vishnuvardhan are considered the two pillars of Kannada Cinema.

Shankar Nag was starred in works such as Ondanondu Kaladalli and Malgudi Days. Tiger Prabhakar, Ananth Nag, Lokesh, Dwarakish, Ashok, Srinath, M. P. Shankar, and Sundar Krishna Urs were the prominent actors who came in this period with Aarathi, Lakshmi, Padma Vaasanthi, Geetha, Madhavi, Saritha, Manjula and Jayamala being some of the actresses. The late 80's saw the emergence of V. Ravichandran and Shivarajkumar and Ramesh Aravind with works directed by Rajendra Singh Babu, D. Rajendra Babu, V. Somashekhar, H. R. Bhargava, Sai Prakash, T. S. Nagabharana and M. S. Rajashekar. Directors Puttana Kanagal and Shankar Nag died. Bhavya, Mahalaxmi, Sudha Rani, Tara, Malashri, Anjali Sudhakar, Vanitha Vasu, Anjana, and Shruthi were the notable actress of the era.

Cast and CrewEdit

Girish Kasaravalli one of the pioneers of parallel cinema
Girish Karnad at Cornell University in 2009

Ku Ra Seetharama Sastry was an actor, film director, lyricist, and screen playwright from the mid-forties through the late seventies. He introduced several artists to Kannada film industry, including Shivaram and Shakthi Prasad (Karaga Shakti, father of Kannada, Telugu and Tamil actor/director Arjun Sarja). Rajkumar 's first movie as a lead actor Bedara Kannappa (1954) was the first Kannada movie which completed 365 days at the theatres.

The majority of the films during these decades were either mythological or historical in nature. Rajkumar, Narasimharaju and G. V. Iyer decided to form a partnership and produce movies which included Ranadhira Kanteerava. The first colour movie in Kannada, Amarashilpi Jakkanachari was made in the year 1964 by B.S Ranga.

Puttana Kanagal 's directorial works include Belli Moda, Gejje Pooje, Saakshathkaara, Sharapanjara, Naagarahaavu, Upasane and Ranganayaki. He made female centric movies which did not have the usual fight scenes and dance. He introduced many actors including Kalpana, Aarathi, Vishnuvardhan, Ambarish, Srinath, Ramakrishna and Ashok. Leelavathi, Jayanthi, B.Sarojadevi, Bharathi, and Kalpana were some of the prominent actress during this period.

This decade also saw the emergence of artists including Puneeth Rajkumar, Upendra, Kiccha Sudeep, Darshan (son of actor Thoogudeepa Srinivas), Ganesh, Diganth, Duniya Vijay and Yash and the female actors, Ramya, Rakshita, Radhika Kumaraswamy, Aindrita Ray, Neethu, Sharmila Mandre, Bhavana, Pooja Gandhi and Ragini Dwivedi .

Director Upendra turned into an actor and acted in films such as A (1998), Upendra (1999), Buddhivantha (2008), Super (2010), and Katari Veera Surasundarangi (2012) (first full length 3D film in Kannada). Child actor Kishan Shrikanth became the youngest director at the age of nine years, by directing C/o Footpath, the film won him the Best Children's Film National Award in 2007, two Karnataka State Awards and 11 International Awards from countries including Italy, Spain, Greece, Egypt, Qatar, Iran, USA and UK.[16][17]

New MilleniumEdit

In 2012, Films Division produced a 93-minute film on B. V. Karanth. The film bases itself on BV Karanth's autobiography in Kannada called Illiralaare, Allige Hogalaare (I can't stay here, I won't go there) complied by well known Kannada writer Vaidehi.[18] Kannada actress Umashree won a Best Actress National Award for the movie Gulabi Talkies in 2009. The film also screened at Osian's Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema and won three awards: Best Film in Indian Competition, Best Actress in Indian Competition (Umashree), and Best Actor in Indian Competition (Vinay BM). Kannada cinema celebrated its 75-year anniversary Amrutha Mahotsava in 2009 on the palace grounds in Bangalore on 1 March 2009 under the direction of V. Ravichandran, featuring a set resembling an open-winged bird. It was attended by many stars from Kannada cinema as well as actors from other film industries who had a stint in Kannada films.[19]

All India Best Feature FilmsEdit

Year Film Producer Note(s)
2001 Dweepa Soundarya All India Best Feature Film
1997 Thaayi Saheba Jaimala All India Best Feature Film
1986 Tabarana Kathe Girish Kasaravalli All India Best Feature Film
1977 Ghatashraddha Sadanand Suvarna All India Best Feature Film
1975 Chomana Dudi Praja Films All India Best Feature Film
1970 Samskara Pattabhirama Reddy All India Best Feature Film
1973 Kaadu K. N. Narayan
G. K. Lakshmipathy
All India Second Best Feature Film
1958 School Master B. R. Panthulu All India Third Best Feature Film

State awardsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ List of Kannada films of 2014
  2. ^ a b "The Digital March Media & Entertainment in South India" (PDF). Deloitte. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  3. ^ [1] Link referring rechristening of sandalwod as chandanavana at world kannada summit
  4. ^ When it rained films. Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
  5. ^ "Statewise number of single screens". (1913-05-03). Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
  6. ^ Shampa Banerjee, Anil Srivastava (1988) [1988]. One Hundred Indian Feature Films: An Annotated Filmography. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-8240-9483-2. 
  7. ^ "GFTI". Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "Tikkavarapu Pattabhirama Reddy – Poet, Film maker of international fame from Nellore -". 
  9. ^ "Asiatic Film Mediale". Archived from the original on 16 November 2008. 
  10. ^ "Girish Kasaravalli to be felicitated". The Hindu. 25 April 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  11. ^ "A genius of theatre". The Frontline. 12–25 October 2002. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  12. ^ "100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time". IBNLive. 
  13. ^ Raghavendra, M. K. (29 June 2017). "Ten Landmark Films Of Kannada Cinema You Can Watch Now". Film Companion. Retrieved 14 November 2017. 
  14. ^ "First film to talk in Kannada" article in The Hindu
  15. ^ K. Moti Gokulsing; Wimal Dissanayake (17 April 2013). Routledge Handbook of Indian Cinemas. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-77284-9. 
  16. ^ "RELEASE - C/O FOOTPATH". London, UK: British Film Institute. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  17. ^ "54th National Film Awards, 2006" (PDF). 
  18. ^ "B V Karanth redefined Indian theater". Archived from the original on 13 July 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2007. He ran away from home when he was a young boy and joined the famous Gubbi professional theatre company, where he was a contemporary of superstar Dr Rajakumar. 
  19. ^ "Amrutha mahotsava mega event of Sandalwood". 
  20. ^ "Bengaluru International Film Festival - BIFFES". Bengaluru International Film Festival. 

External linksEdit