A Report prepared for Chalanachitra Academy August 2015

By : Dr. Gururaj Kidiyoor Dr. Prashant Yatgiri Prof. Sham Ranjan Shetty ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

First of all We would like to thank Shri. S V Rajendra Singh Babu, a renowned producer/director and Chairman of Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy, Bengaluru for urging us to take up a study on the regional cinema which is rather unusual for a b-school faculty. Once it was decided to go ahead, he gave us all the support required in terms of data and contacts for primary information. We shall remain indebted to him.

We thank Mr. Thomas D’Souza, President, Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, Mr.B M Harish, Hon. Secretary, Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, Mr. C N Chandru, Film Producer and Distributor and Mr. N M Kumar, Film Producer and Exhibitor for sharing their views on the movie industry through interviews. We are also grateful to Mr. of Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy for his useful insights on subsidies on movies.

The project lead came from Mr.Pramod Fernandes and Sagar Mukhopadhyaya of Manipal Technologies, Manipal. They made it sound exciting and enabled contact with S V Rajendra Singh. Our sincere thanks to them as well.

We also take this opportunity to thank our Director, Dr. R C Natarajan for his encouragement and support.

Our 2nd year students did all the hard work of data collection from the field. We thank you Shruty D, Ravikeerthi Somayaji, Gourish Bellad, Niharika G, Joel Vas, Mahalasa Kini, Vinayaditya, Mahesh Deshpande, Jayanth Bellur, Prasad, Pramukh Desai, Arun Bhat, Anup Munavalli and Sagar Manjunath. This project would not have been possible without you people. Pramukh Desai merits special thanks for the content he provided on marketing of movies.

Special thanks to Prof. Gurudutt Nayak, Assistant Professor, TAPMI for proof reading the document.

We would be failing in our duty if we did not thank Mr. P , Assistant Administrative Officer, TAPMI and Rebecca Mendonca & Shuba Amin, Academic Assistants, for their immense help in data entry and consolidation. We are also grateful to Kiran Kumar, IT Administrator at TAPMI was instrumental in preparing the questionnaire on Google Docs.

Dr. Gururaj Kidiyoor Dr. Prashant Yatgiri Prof. Sham Ranjan Shetty


This report is based on an independent project conducted by T A Pai Management Institute (TAPMI), Manipal purely for academic purposes. The project was basically an initiative of TAPMI towards contributing to the development of art and culture of Karnataka, of which cinema is an integral part.

The conclusions drawn in this report and the recommendations made are based on three sources namely, analysis of survey data collected from a sample of movie goers, in-depth interviews conduced with five persons associated closely with Kannada movie industry, and secondary sources mainly from the internet and print. T A Pai Management Institute (TAPMI) will have the exclusive copyright of this work for all puposes.

The study is purely exploratory in nature and the report is not prepared to highlight either proper or improper handling of a business / administrative situation by any individual or an institution.

August 29, 2015


Acknowledgments i

Disclaimer ii

Part 1: Overview of Indian 1-12

Part 2: – A Brief History 13-34

Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns 35-60

Part 4: Consumer Study 61-85

Part 5: Recommendations 86-112

Annexure 1 Annexure 2 Part 1: Overview of Indian Film Industry


One hundred years after its conception, the cinema remains a popular art form and in the developed countries, appears to be the most widely practised cultural activity especially with rapid advances in technology. Like any other trade, the trade of cinema too runs on supply and demand philosophy. Where there is a demand for certain products and services, there will be a host of suppliers willing to supply them for profit.

The Indian film industry produces more movies than any other and is seen to be on the threshold of emerging as a big market internationally. In 2001, the film industry was granted “industry” status, which has helped to move it to more professionally approach financing, production and other allied activities. In recent years, the Indian film industry has witnessed marked improvements on all fronts, viz., technology, themes, exhibitions, finances, marketing and business environment. Indian film industry is also getting corporatized. Foreign direct investments (FDI) in all film related activities such as film production, distribution, exhibition, marketing etc. is permitted up to 100% for all companies under the automatic route.

Until the end of the 1990s, the Indian film industry received a lot of its finances from shady and unknown sources. An investment into a film was and still is risky. In 1999, only 11% of the released made good business; and the number is not above

25% even now. Lately, the granting of industry status has made financing much more accessible to producers. The film industry () is star-centric and actors like are worshiped like half-gods by their numerous fans. This is why, although they are the largest stakeholders in film production,

1 Part 1: Overview of Indian Film Industry

producers do not dictate terms. Also, the cost structure of Indian movies is hard to estimate, since the majority of the commercial dealings are cash transactions. Stars also often work on several sets during the same period of time, which can cause delays. Disciplinary efforts by the producers come to naught, and because of the absence of insurance models, completion guarantors and gap financing systems, they have to bear all the financial risks1.

India is the largest producer of films in the world. In 2009 produced a total of

2,961 films on celluloid that includes a staggering figure of 1,288 feature films.

Indian film industry is multilingual and the largest in the world in terms of ticket sales and number of films produced and 7th largest in terms of revenue. It is also perhaps the oldest film industry in after . The industry is supported mainly by a vast film-going Indian public, and Indian films have been gaining increasing popularity in the rest of the world—notably in countries with large numbers of expatriate Indians. The largest film industry in India is the film industry mostly concentrated in Mumbai, and is commonly referred to as

"Bollywood", an amalgamation of Bombay and , which produces around

20% of films in India. The other largest film industries are , , cinema, Bangla cinema, and Kannada cinema, which are located in , , , Kolkatta and are commonly referred to as

"Tollywood"(Telugu), "Kollywood"(Tamil), "Mollywood"(Malayalam),

"Tollywood"(Bangla) and "Sandalwood"(Kannada). The remaining majority portion is spread across northern, , and southern India (with

1 Competition concerns in the film industry by Dr.K D Singh and Tulika Singh

2 Part 1: Overview of Indian Film Industry

Gujarati, Punjabi, Marathi, Oriya, ). Indian films are made filled with musicals, action, romance, , and an increasing number of special effects.

"Bollywood" picks up a larger portion of films produced in India and is viewed all over the Indian Subcontinent, and is increasingly popular in UK, USA, Australia, New

Zealand, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Gulf countries and European countries having large Indian population.

Enhanced technology paved the way for upgrading from established cinematic norms of delivering product, altering the manner in which content reached the target audience. based, super hero science fiction, and epic films like . Enthiran, Ra.One, , and 3 emerged as blockbusters.

Eminent directors such as , , ,

Gopalakrishnan, , G. Aravindan, ,Shaji N. Karun, and have made significant contributions to and won global acclaim. Other filmmakers such as , Mira and Deepa

Mehta have found success overseas. The Indian government extended film delegations to foreign countries such as the of America and Japan while the country's Film Producers Guild sent similar missions through Europe. The provision of 100% foreign direct investment has made the Indian film market attractive for foreign enterprises such as 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Walt

Disney Pictures and Warner Bros. Indian enterprises such as AVM

Productions, Prasad's Group, Sun Pictures, PVP Cinemas, Zee, UTV, Suresh

Productions, Eros Films, Ayngaran International, Pyramid Saimira, Aascar

Films and Adlabs also participated in producing and distributing films. Tax incentives to multiplexes have aided the multiplex boom in India. By 2003 as many

3 Part 1: Overview of Indian Film Industry

as 30 film production companies had been listed in the National Stock Exchange of

India, making the commercial presence of the medium felt.

The South Indian film industry defines the four film cultures of as a single entity. They are the Kannada, the Malayalam, the Tamil and the Telugu industries. Although developed independently for a long period of time, gross exchange of film performers and technicians as well as globalisation helped to shape this new identity. The Indian diaspora consists of millions of Indians overseas for which films are made available both through mediums such as and by screening of films in their country of residence wherever commercially feasible. These earnings, accounting for some 12% of the revenue generated by a mainstream film, contribute substantially to the overall revenue of Indian cinema, the net worth of which was found to be US$1.3 billion in 2000. Music in Indian cinema is another substantial revenue generator, with the music rights alone accounting for 4–5% of the net revenues generated by a film in India2.

Hindi cinema

The Hindi language film industry of Mumbai—also known as Bollywood—is the largest and most powerful branch that controls Indian cinema. Hindi cinema initially had lots of films exploring issues of caste and culture in films such as Achhut

Kanya (1936) and Sujata (1959). International visibility came to the industry with 's Awara and later in Shakti Samantha's Aradhana starring

Khanna and . Hindi cinema grew during the 1990s with the release of as many as 215 films.

2 Source: Potts, 74 & Potts, 75 accessed on 10th August 2015

4 Part 1: Overview of Indian Film Industry

In 1995 the Indian economy began showing sustainable annual growth, and Hindi cinema, as a commercial enterprise, grew at a growth rate of 15% annually. The salary of lead stars increased greatly. Many actors signed contracts for simultaneous work in 3–4 films. Institutions such as the Industrial Development Bank of India also came forward to finance Hindi films. A number of magazines such as , Stardust, Cineblitz, etc., became popular. The audience's reaction towards Hindi cinema is quite distinctive with involvement in the films by audience's endorsements through clapping, singing, reciting familiar dialogue with the actors.

Kannada cinema

Kannada film industry, also referred as Sandalwood, is based in Bengaluru and caters mostly to the state of Karnataka. was eminent in Kannada film industry. In his career, he performed versatile characters and sung hundreds of songs for film and albums. Other notable Kannada and Tulu actors include , Ambarish,Ravichandran, , Prakash

Raj, Nag, Ananth Nag, , , , , Shivaraj

Kumar, Puneet Rajkumar, Kalpana, Bharathi, , Pandari

Bai, , Umashri and Ramya.

Film directors from the Kannada film industry like Girish

Kasaravalli, P.Sheshadri have garnered national recognition. Other noted directors include , G. V. Iyer,Girish Karnad, T. S. Nagabharana, Kesari

Harvoo, Upendra, Yograj Bhat, and Soori. In the arena of music direction G.K.

5 Part 1: Overview of Indian Film Industry

Venkatesh, , Rajan-Nagendra, , , Anoop

Seelin and V. Harikrishna are some of the noted music directors.

Kannada cinema, along with Bengali and Malayalam films, contributed simultaneously to the age of Indian parallel cinema. Some of the influential Kannada

Films based on this genre are Samskara ( based on a novel by U R Ananthamurthy),

Chomana Dudi by B V Karanth, Tabarana Kathe, Vamshavruksha, Kadu Kudure,

Hamsageethe, Bhootayyana Maga Ayyu, Accident, Maanasa Sarovara, ,

Mane, Kraurya, Thayi Saheba, , Munnudi, Atithi, Beru, Thutturi, Vimukthi,

Bettada and Bharath Stores.

The Government Film and Television Institute, Bangalore (formerly a part of

S.J.Polytechnic) is believed as the first government institute in India to start technical courses related to films with legends like V K Murthy, etc. passing out from this institute.

Malayalam cinema

Malayalam film industry, also known as Mollywood, is based in . It is considered to be the fourth largest among the film industries in India. Malayalam film industry is known for films that bridge the gap between parallel cinema and mainstream cinema by portraying thought-provoking social issues with top notch technical perfection but with low budgets. Filmmakers include Adoor

Gopalakrishnan, Shaji N. Karun, G. Aravindan, K. G. George, ,

Anthikad, T. V. Chandran and .

Vigathakumaran, a silent movie released in 1928 produced and directed by J. C.

Daniel, marked the beginning of . Malayalam films were mainly

6 Part 1: Overview of Indian Film Industry

produced by Tamil producers till 1947, when the first major , Udaya

Studio, was established in Kerala. In 1954, the film Neelakkuyil captured national interest by winning the President's silver medal. (1965), directed by

Ramu Kariat and based on a story by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, went on to become immensely popular, and became the first South Indian film to win the National Film

Award for Best Feature Film.[199]

The period from late 1980s to early 1990s is popularly regarded as the 'Golden Age of Malayalam Cinema with the emergence of actors , , Suresh

Gopi,, , and Nedumudi and filmmakers such as I.V.

Sasi, Bharathan, Padmarajan, K. G. George, Sathyan Anthikad, , A. K.

Lohithadas,-, T. K. Rajeev Kumar and . In 2014, the total number of Malayalam movies released were 148

Marathi cinema

Marathi cinema is the films produced in the in the state of

Maharashtra. Marathi Cinema is one of the oldest industry in Indian Cinema. In fact the pioneer of cinema in Union of India was Dadasaheb Phalke, who brought the revolution of moving images to India with his first indigenously made silent film Raja in 1913, which is considered by IFFI and NIFD part of

Marathi cinema as it was made by a Marathi crew.

The first Marathi talkie film, Ayodhyecha Raja (produced by Prabhat Films) was released in 1932, just one year after "Alam Ara" the first Hindi talkie film. Marathi cinema has grown immensely with two of its films, namely "" (2004) and

"" (2009), being sent as India's official entries for the

7 Part 1: Overview of Indian Film Industry

Oscars. Today the industry is based in Mumbai, , but it sprouted and grew first from and then .

Maharashtra has immense contribution to Bollywood as several Maharashtrian actors have brought glamour to the Indian film industry. Marathi film industry has included the work of actors including , , V Shantaram, Shriram

Lagoo, Ramesh Deo and Deo, , , , Sonali

Kulkarni, , , Reema Lagoo, Lalita Pawar, Mamta

Kulkarni, , Kolhapure, , Sachin Khedekar,

Khote, and others.

Tamil Cinema

The Tamil film industry, also known as Kollywood is based in Chennai and is the largest in India in terms of movies produced. The city once served as a base for all South Indian films and to date remains South India's largest film production centre.

Sivaji Ganesan became India's first ever actor to receive an international award when he won the "Best Actor" award at the Afro-Asian in 1960 and was awarded the title of Chevalier in the Legion of Honour by the French Government in

1995. Tamil cinema is also influenced by Dravidian politics, with prominent film personalities like C N Annadurai, M G Ramachandran, M

Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa becoming Chief Ministers of . Tamil films are distributed to various parts of Asia, Southern Africa, Northern America, Europe

8 Part 1: Overview of Indian Film Industry

and Oceania. The industry has inspired Tamil film-making in Sri , Malaysia,

Singapore and Canada.

Rajnikanth is referred to as "Superstar" and has since continued to hold a status in the popular culture of South India. His mannerisms and stylised delivery of dialogue in films contribute to his mass popularity and appeal. After earning Rs.26 (US$4.1 million) for his role in Sivaji (2007), he became the highest paid actor in Asia after . Haasan made his debut in

Kalathur Kannamma for which he won the President's Gold Medal for Best Child

Actor. Haasan is tied with Mammootty and Amitabh Bachchan for the most Best

Actor with three. With seven submissions, has starred in the highest number of films submitted India for the Academy Award Best

Foreign Language Film.

In Tamil films music and songs an important role. Critically acclaimed composers such as and A. R. having "international following" belong to Tamil cinema. Play back singer S. P. Balasubramanyam holds the Guinness

World Record of having sung the most number of songs for any male playback singer in the world. S. Janaki has sung over 30,000 songs and has won 4 national awards.

Telugu Cinema

The highest number of theaters are located in the Indian states of Andhra

Pradesh and which produce films in the . A total of 2809 are located in these regions out of 10167 theaters running in India. Ramoji

Film City, which holds the Guinness World Record for the world's largest film production facility, is located in Hyderabad, India. The Prasad's IMAX located in

9 Part 1: Overview of Indian Film Industry

Hyderabad is the world's largest 3D IMAX screen and is the most attended screen in the world. Hyderabad is the only city in India which has six functional Film studios.

The state of has the most number of Cinema Theaters in India.

In 2002, the Guinness Book of Records named as the female director with most number of films; she made 47 films. In a career spanning approximately two decades, she acted in over 200 films with 25 each in Malayalam and Tamil. She also produced 15 films. Telugu actor holds the Guinness World

Record for acting in the most number of films in a single language. Movie producer D. Naidu holds the Guinness World Record as the most prolific producer with 130 films.

S. V. Ranga Rao is one of the first Indian actors of the time to receive international award at , held in for Narthanasala in 1963. N. T.

Rama Rao was one of the most commercially successful Telugu actors of his time. B.

Narsing Rao, K. N. T. Sastry and Pattabhirama Reddy have garnered international recognition for their pioneering work in Parallel Cinema. Adurthi Subba Rao, has garnered ten National Film Awards, the highest individual awards in Telugu cinema, for his pioneering work as a director.

In the years 2005, 2006 and 2008 the Telugu Film industry produced the largest number of films in India exceeding the number of films produced in Bollywood, with

268, 245 and 286 films in each year respectively.

Tulu cinema

10 Part 1: Overview of Indian Film Industry

Tulu film industry is a part of Indian cinema. It produces 2 to 3 films annually.

Usually these films are released in theatres across the Tulu Nadu region which consists of Udupi and districts. The critically acclaimed Tulu

Film Suddha, won the award for the best Indian Film at the Osian film festival held at New in the year 2006. Oriyardori Asal released in 2011 is the most successful Tulu film till date.

The first Tulu film is Enna Thangadi released in 1971. Dareda Budedi produced by

K.N. Taylor was the second feature film released in the same year. Bisatti

Babu produced in 1972 was the first film to receive the State government award as

the best Tulu film. Bangar Patler produced in 1993 by Richard Castelino has won the

highest national and international awards. September 8, directed by Richard

Castelino, starring Kannada actor Sunil and Kannada writer, K Shivaram Karanth

was shot in 24 hours entirely in Mangalore, a record in the .

Nirel directed by Bajpe, produced by Shodhan Prasad and co - produced by

San Poojary will be the first Tulu movie totally produced overseas.

Revenue Contributions

While the Hindi movie industry in India is the largest, the country also has a fairly large and active regional movie industry . Films in India are usually segmented into

3 key groups, based on language: A) Hindi; B) Regional (includes Tamil, Telugu,

Other Regional); C) International (includes English and foreign language films)

The Hindi film industry is the largest in India, representing 43% of net box office revenue. Within the Regional film industry, Tamil and Telugu are the largest segments comprising 36% of net box office revenues

11 Part 1: Overview of Indian Film Industry

The ‘Other Regional’ segment (comprising 15% of net box office revenues) in

FY2013 was estimated to be: ‒ Malayalam (FY2013): INR 250-275 Cr (US$ 40-44 mn); Kannada (FY2013): INR 250-275 Cr (US$ 40-44 mn); Bengali (CY2012): INR

100 Cr (US$ 16 mn); Marathi (CY2011): INR 100 Cr (US$ 16 mn); Punjabi (CY2011):

INR 50 Cr (US$ 8 mn); industry participants suggest that the Bhojpuri industry is also a notable contributor to regional cinema

Large national producers such as , Eros, Disney UTV, Viacom

18 Motion Pictures, Fox Star Studios as well as independent producers like Emmay

Entertainment (Nikhil Advani), and Grazing Goat Productions plan to spend 20% of their annual budgets on regional cinema

International films is currently a small, but growing segment, driven by rising numbers of English (and other foreign language) speakers, as well as increasing numbers of international movies witnessing dubbed releases across the country key highlights3.

A comparison of movies released in major languages in the last five years4

Year Kannada Hindi Telugu Tamil Malayalam Marathi

2010 137 130 98 141 105 56

2011 104 102 104 131 104 67

2012 91 104 96 143 127 73

2013 121 113 105 148 158 64

2014 118 201 195 215 148 55 Total 571 650 598 778 642 315

3 Economic Contribution of the Indian Motion Picture and Television Industry by Deliotte, March 2014

4 www.wikipedia.com accessed on 10th August 2015

12 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History


The Cinema of Karnataka, sometimes colloquially referred to as 'Chandanavana' or the Sandalwood, is a part of Indian cinema, where motion pictures are produced in the Kannada language, and based in Bengaluru. Today more than 100 films are made every year. In terms of the size, Kannada cinema falls in the 2nd cluster along with Bengali and Marathi movies with 100 – 150 movies being made every year. The top cluster is represented by Hindi, Tamil and Telugu cinema, each of which make more than 150 movies per year. Bhojpuri and Gujarati cinema which produce between 50-100 movies a year fall in the 2nd cluster. However in terms of revenues, Kannada cinema is ahead of Marathi and Bengali movies.

However as far as to south Indian movies are concerned, Kannada movies contribute just 2% of the revenues. Telugu and Tamil movies have 45% share each.

Kannada films are released in a total of 950 single screen theatres in Karnataka and a handful of the movies are also released in the United States, Australia,

Germany, the United Kingdom and other countries. The first government institute in India to start technical courses related to films was established in 1941 named as occupational institute then named as S. J. Polytechnic in Bengaluru. In

September 1996, two specialized courses, and Sound &

Television were separated, and a new Institute Government Film and Television

Institute was started at Hesaraghatta, under the World Bank Assisted Project for

Technician Development in India.

13 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

Early history

As early as in 1925 a silent movie, Vasantasena, based on Sanskrit

Mrochakatika was made in Karnataka. Produced by Mr. Bhavanani, it starred

Jaikishan Nanda, Y Ramarao, Dr. S S Narayana Shastri and the well known T P

Kailasam. It is believed that between the periods 1921 to 1933, as many as 175 silent movies were made in Karnataka.

The age of the silent movies came to an end in 1935 with the first Kannada talkie,

Sati Sulochana, appearing in theatres, followed by Bhakta Dhruva. Both

Sulochana and Bhakta Dhruva were major successes. was shot in

Maharashtra Cinetone studio in Kolhapur and most of the filming, sound recording, and post-production was done in Chennai. Sati Sulochana was released in Paramount Talkies in Bangalore and ran for six weeks. The fourth movie in

Kannada was released in 1936, a social drama titled Samsara Nauka.

It was difficult to find financial backing for new film projects in the region, thus very few movies in Kannada were released during the early years of Indian sound cinema. In fact between 1934 and 1949 only 28 movies were made in Kannada, which amounted to less than 2 movies per year. Among these movies successful ones were Sati Sulochana, Samsara Nauka, Jeevana Nataka (1942), Satya

Harishchandra (1943), Vasantasena (1941), Bhakta Kumbara (1949) and

Nagakannika (1949). The reasons for this slow growth can be attributed to the

14 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

competition from drama companies1 and the general slow down in the movie industry on account of the second world war. Moreover the industry faced distribution issues as Kannada speaking areas were split among various provinces under the British rule. There were problems in getting the movies to the rural areas and the urban elite did not perceive Kannada movies to be good.

Hence the market for Kannada movies was very limited.

During these times of distress, a production company “Mahatma Pictures” came to the rescue of the industry. Led by partners D. Shankar Singh and B Vittalacharya, it made attempts to get the industry rooted in Karnataka and brought in a disciplined way of making movies within a limited budget. Though their initial movies Krishnaleela (1947) and Bhakta Ramadas (1948) did not do well,

Nagakannika (1949) was a big success at the box office. Though the partners separated in early 1950s, Shankar Singh continued to make movies not only under the Mahatma Pictures banner but also under “Venkateshwara Productions” and “Padukeshwara Pictures”. All in all Shankar Singh is believed to have been involved in the production of as many as 48 movies.

Another dignitary, could be considered the doyen of Kannada cinema during the mid to late forties. In 1949, Honnappa Bhagavathar, who had earlier acted in Gubbi Veeranna's films, produced Bhaktha Kumbara and starred in the lead role along with Pandaribai. In 1955, Honnappa Bhagavathar again produced a Kannada film, Mahakavi , in which he introduced B. Saroja

Devi who went on to become one of the most sought after stars in Tamil, Telugu

1 Drama companies were a major draw during this time and people preferred to movies.

15 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

and Kannada movies in 1960s and early 70s.

Another production house, “Padmini Pictures” under the leadership of B R

Pantulu (1910- 1974) entered the Kannada industry in 1955 with the social drama Modala Tedi which was a huge success. Under this banner, 20 Kannada movies were made from 1955 to 1972, and out of this 18 were directed by B R

Pantulu himself. Many of his movies such as Beedi Basavanna (1967), Emme

Thammanna(1966), Amma(1968), and Sri Krishnadevaraya (1970) had starred

Rajkumar, who was to become the superstar in later years.

K R Seetharama Sastry ("Kurasi") was an actor, , lyricist, and screen playwright from the mid-forties through the late seventies. Kurasi introduced several artists to Kannada film industry, including Shivaram (Beratha Jeeva, 1965) and Shakthi Prasad (father of Kannada, Telugu and Tamil actor/director Arjun).

Narasimharaju (1923 – 1979) and G. V. Iyer (1917 – 2003) decided to form a partnership and produce movies. The partnership lasted for only a couple of movies. Ranadhira Kanteerava was one such successful joint venture. The majority of the films during this decade were either mythological or historical in nature. Narasimharaju was a famous comedian who starred in most of the movies made during this time. He had a large group of admirers and even today his acting is taken as the benchmark in comedy in Kannada films. G V Iyer later went to make landmark movies in Sanskrit that won critical appreciation and many awards.

16 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

The entry of Rajkumar (1929 – 2006) in the early 1950s encouraged the Kannada film industry to make more historical movies. Bedara Kannappa (1954) was the first Kannada movie, which completed 365 days at the theatres and it received a letter of appreciation from the central government. During this period, the

Kannada movie industry had three prominent heroes namely Rajkumar, Uday

Kumar (1933 – 1985) and (1928 – 1999). Among the three, Uday

Kumar did not restrict himself to playing hero roles and acted in a variety of roles such as villain, brother etc. Due to his physical appearance he was also considered for elderly character roles such father or grand father. Perhaps due to this, slowly but surely he lost the race towards stardom. Kalyan Kumar however played the role of the hero in a majority of the movies but he was lured by the canvas and the reach of Tamil cinema and stayed more focused on multi-lingual presence. He did act in some famous Tamil movies such as Nenjil Oru Alayam (in 1962 where he starred with ), Paasam, Azhagu Nilaand, Mani Osai, Yarukku

Sontham etc,. On the other hand, Rajkumar acted mainly in hero roles and stayed focused on Kannada movies. In the earlier stages of his career, he did not act in non-Kannada movies perhaps by default and later stages, he stayed away from non-Kannada movies by choice.

Among the female actors, there have been several who had long careers in

Kannada movies. M V Rajamma (1923 – 1999) , (1928 – 2003), Harini

( 1937 - ) and Leelavati (1938 - ) were popular heroines from 1950 – 1970 and they have played female leads opposite Rajkumar, Uday Kumar and Kalyan

Kumar. In the late 60s and 70s, the pairing of Rajkumar with Jayanthi and Bharati were very popular. Jayanthi has the distinction of playing heroine with Rajkumar

17 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

in more than 35 movies while Bharati (who later married actor Vishnuvardhan) paired with him in some of his most successful movies that included Bangarada


1970s and 1980s

Most of the movies produced till 1960s belonged to the historical, mythological or the folklore genre. One fine exponent of this was the multifaceted Hunusur

Krishnamurthy (1914 – 1989) who was adept at writing dialogues, and songs. In fact he was the writer for most of the earlier movies produced under the banner of Mahatma Pictures. He took to direction in 1958 with the movie Asha

Sundari and went on to direct several hit movies that included Sri Garudi,

Satya Harishchandra, Devara Gedda Manava, Bhakta Kumabara and


The 1970s and the 1980s are often considered to be the Golden Age of Kannada cinema. The industry made a shift from to color movies and the first movie Sose Thanda Saubhagya was released in 1977. This was the period when Kannada cinema made its presence felt through good quality movies that were also commercially successful. It was also the period that witnessed the birth of alternate cinema or parallel cinema. Kannada cinema spearheaded the parallel cinema movement in India along with Hindi, Bengali and

Malayalam cinemas.

B. V. Karanth's (an evocative film on caste distinctions based on the

18 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

award winning novel by Dr. Shivaram Karanth), Girish Karnad's Kaadu and Girish

Kasaravalli's Ghatashraddha (1977) spearheaded the Kannada parallel cinema.

Vamshavruksha (1971), Karanth's (1983), Kadu Kudure

(1979), Hamsageethe (1975), Accident (1985), Akramana (1980), Mooru Daarigalu

(1981), Tabarana Kathe (1987), Bannadha Vesha (1988) and Puttanna Kanagal's

Naagarahaavu (1972) were some of the important movies of this era.

Though the practice of making popular novels into movies was not new to

Kannada cinema, Puttanna Kanagal (1933 – 1985) made it almost mandatory for his movies. He had worked in B R Pantulu’s Padmini Pictures earlier and made his debut as director through Belli Moda in 1967 which was based on a novel by

Triveni. The other novel based movies made him are Sharapanjara (1971), Gejje

Pooje (1969), Nagarahavu (2002), Edakallu Guddada Mele (1973),

Shubhamangala (1975) and Ranganayaki (1981) to name a few. His movies were known for strong female characters, good locations and catchy music. He was admired by the famous Tamil movie director K Balachander and another well- known Tamil director Bharatiraja had done his apprenticeship under Puttanna

Kanagal. Puttanna Kanagal is considered as the first star director of Kannada cinema.

Siddalingaiah (1936 – 2015) directed Mayor Muthanna in 1969 starring

Rajkumar, Bharathi and in his film debut. He cast the same lead pair in

Baalu Belagithu (1970), Namma Samsara (1971), Thayi Devaru (1971) and

Bangaarada Manushya (1972). After Bangaarda Manushya, he worked with other actors including Vishnuvardhan, Ananth Nag, and . He

19 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

introduced his son Murali in the 1983 romantic drama Prema Parva. He also directed a Tamil film Puthir in 1986 with Murali as the lead actor. His last film,

Prema Prema Prema, was released in 1999 after which he retired from directing.

In 1993–94, he was awarded the Puttanna Kanagal Award for his contribution to the Kannada film industry as a director.

V Somashekhar (1937 – 2003) was another popular director during this time. In

40 years of his career as a director, he directed 49 films that includes commercial successes such as Premada Kanike (1976), Shankar Guru (1978), Seetharamu

(1979) and Chakravyuha (1983). Following his directorial career, he worked as the President of Kannada Film Directors Association. Recognizing his contribution to Kannada cinema, he was awarded the Puttanna Kanagal Award in 2001.

By early 1970s, Rajkumar was a steady and consistent performer and had firmly established himself in the industry with more than 150 films to his credit. He had a different approach to acting as compared to his contemporaries from Tamil and

Telugu movie industries such as M G Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan, N T Rama

Rao and A Nageswara Rao. Though he had come from the background

Rajkumar’s acting was devoid of theatrics and he avoided going over the top.

Nevertheless he was known for his versatility and excelled in all genres movies such as Mythologies, Historicals, Socials dramas, Spy Thrillers and Romance. His performance in movies such as Bhoo Kailasa (1958), Sati Shakti (1963), Kasturi

Nivasa (1971), Bangarada Manushya (1972), Mayura, Gandhada Gudi (1973),

Shankar Guru (1978) were unprallelled. He had built up a great fan following by early 1970s but his crowd pulling capacity all over Karnataka was demonstrated

20 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

through a movie called Sampattige Sawal. Released in 1974, it was a money- spinner with even small centers in north Karnataka turning in excellent collections. Though his earlier 1972 movie Bangarada Manushya was a runaway success, the laurels were shared by the actor, the director (Siddalingayya) and the story writer ( T K Ramarao). Even the 1973 golden jubilee hit Gandhada Gudi ran because of its novelty (forest conservation), and all round excellence (acting, direction, locations, music, screenplay). The movie Sampattige Sawal changed the way the industry and the people viewed Rajkumar. Each movie he did after this was a virtual money spinner (with very few exceptions). Movies such as Mayura

(1975), Naa Ninna Mareyalre (1976), Bangarada Panjara (1974), which he starred during this period are remembered even to this day. Later he restricted his acting mainly to his home productions and gave many hits such as Shankar

Guru, Thayige Takka Maga (1978), Chalisuva Modagalu (1982), Anuraga Aralithu

(1986) and Odahuttidavaru (1994) to name a few. Rajkumar retained his star power till his last movie (206th) Shabdavedi which was released in the year 2000.

He had several fan associations that would celebrate the release of his movies with large cut outs and garlands, a practice which probably began in Tamil Nadu.

Rajkumar has won several awards for his contribution to Kannada cinema that includes Padma Bushan and Dada Saheb Phalke award.

Vishnuvardhan and were the two stars born in this decade. Ace director Puttanna Kanagal decided to make Nagarahavu based on the Kannada novel with the same name2 and cast two newcomers in the movie. Vishnuvardhan

2 It was actually based on a trilogy of novels – Nagarahavu, Eradu Hennu Ondu Gandu and Sarpamatsara.

21 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

(who had debuted in 1972 with a miniscule role in the award winning film

Vamshavriksha) was cast as the hero and Ambareesh in a small negative role.

Produced by N Veeraswamy, Nagarahavu released in 1972, was a stupendous hit and Vishnuvardhan’s performance as a young rebellious man torn between two women was highly appreciated. Soon he acted in a negative role opposite

Rajkumar in Gandhada Gudi but then stuck to playing hero movies. Some movies after Nagarahavu did not do well but he made a comeback with the megahit

“Nagarahole” directed by ace director S V Rajendra Singh (Babu). He never looked back after this and went to deliver several hits till his death in 2010. A versatile actor, he starred in hit movies such as Nagarahole (1977), Sahodarara Sawal

(1977), Guru Shishyaru (1981), Kiladi Jodi (1978), (1984), Suprabhata

(1988), Yejamana (2000), and Apthamithra (2004), to name a few. He had a large fan following and is considered as the second most popular star after Rajkumar.

Vishnuvardhan went on to become a super star of south India acting in 220 films in 5 main languages of the country. He became recognised at all India level for his performances.

Ambareesh who had debuted in Nagarahavu, was noticed even though his role was very small and played the role of the villain in several movies such as

Bangarada Gudi (1976), Seeteyalla Savithri (1973), Devara Kannu (1975), Onde

Roopa Eradu Guna (1975) etc.

With his unconventional looks he was a popular villain and was compared to

Shatrughan Sinha of Bollywood. Ambareesh also did character roles in movies such as Shubhamangala (1975), Muyyige Muyyi (1978), and Nagarahole (1977).

22 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

Slowly he graduated to playing second hero roles in movies such as Pakka Kalla

(1979) and Sedu (1978) and played the role of full fledged hero in

Amarnath (1978). However it was the 1980 monster hit Antha which catapulted him to stardom. Based on a novel by H K Anantha Rao and directed by S V

Rajendra Singh (Babu), Antha probably was the first Indian movie that dared to show the police, politician and the underworld nexus. After this movie,

Ambareesh played hero in most of the movies and some of his successful movies are Chakravyuha (1983), Snehitara Sawal (1981), Olavina Udugore (1987),

Brahma Vishnu Maheshwara (1988), Sangliana (1988), (1989), Rani

Maharani (1990), and Odahuttidavaru (1994). He later switched to character roles and currently he is a minster in Karnataka Government led by Chief Minister


Brothers and the late , called the Nag brothers, were popular stars in the 1980s and 1990s. Both had theatre background and the elder among the brothers Anant Nag shot to fame with the 1972 hit Bayalu Dari, where he was paired opposite Kalpana. He was known for his natural acting and his pairing with was very popular. They have given several hits such as Naa

Ninna Mareyalare (1976), Ibbani Karagitu (1983), Chandanada Gome (1979),

Dhairya Laxmi (1979) and Mudidida Tavare Aralitu (1983). While Anant Nag had his fan following among the elite and upper middle class, his younger brother

Shankar Nag was popular among masses. Debuting in Ondanondu Kaladalli

(1978), a period action flick directed by Girish Karnad, he won the best actor award in an international film festival. He became a full fledged commercial movie hero with Seeta (1979) and went on to deliver hits such as Auto Raja and

23 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

Sangliana. He turned a director with Minchina Ota (1980) and followed this up with Geeta (1981), Januma Janumada Anubhanda (1980), Accident (1985), Nodi

Swamy Navirode Heege (1983) and Ondu Muttina Kathe (1987) (with Rajkumar in the lead). His movies were “bridge” between art and commercial and have won many awards (Accident, Minchina Ota). Shankar Nag also made his mark on the television arena with Days, a very popular serial based on stories by R K

Narayan. Shankar Nag’s untimely death in 1990 created a void in Kannada cinema which is yet to be filled.

The other popular actors of 70 through 80s are ,known for his portrayal of romantic roles, and the late Prabhakar who was admired in action roles.

Srinath acted in many movies directed by the legendary Puttanna Kanagal

Shubhamangala (1975), Dharmasere (1979), Manasa Sarovara (1982) and

Dharani Mandala Madhyadolage (1983) ). He is a popular TV actor now and acts in movies when good roles are offered. Prabhakar acted in several hit action movies before he passed away in 2001.

Lokesh, Ashok, M. P. Shankar, and Sunder Krishna Urs were other actors who made their own mark in the industry. Puttana Kanagal paved the way for the above-mentioned actors as well as Ramakrishna, Kokila , and

Chandrashekar. Lakshmi, Padma Vaasanthi, , , , and

Jayamala were some of the actresses who made their mark.

Dwarakish, a famous Kannada artiste who mainly played the role of comedian had turned producer in 1966 with the movie Mamateya Bandhana. In 1969, he

24 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

independently produced Mayor Muthanna, under the banner of "Dwaraka Films3".

Rajkumar and Bharathi played the lead roles in this movie. This movie was a great hit. After Mayor Muthanna (1969), Dwarakish gave a series of box office successes to Kannada cinema, one after the other for the next two decades. He became the king of Kannada cinema producers. As an actor, he was often typecast as a comedian. But some of his movies were comic action movies, also starring the actor Vishnuvardhan. He is popularly called 'Kulla', meaning a short man in

Kannada. He was the first producer to shoot a Kannada film outside India and the film was Singapoorinalli Raja Kulla (1978). It was a milestone in the history of

Kannada cinema. He has in total produced 49 Kannada films and acted in more than 300 films. The earlier movies produced by him were directed by others but later he started directing his own movies.

S. V. Rajendra Singh Babu, son of D Shankar Singh of Mahatma Pictures, shot to fame with Nagara Hole in 1976 which is considered one of the best children movies made in India. He followed it up with hits such as Kiladi Jodi (1978),

Bandhana (1984) and Antha (1981). Rajendra Singh Babu has made movies in different genres. He has written and directed love stories, war, suspense thrillers and comedy movies. Many of his films have been adapted from novels or short stories. He is known for technical finesse and lavishly mounted movies. He is not only famous in Karnataka but also across all of India. Babu has won numerous awards for his films and has also directed movies in Hindi ( , Meri Awaz

Suno and Ek Se Bhale Do ) and Telugu languages.

3 Later named as Dwarakish Chitra

25 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

Other noted directors during this time are Dorai – Bhagavan, Bhargava and K V

Jayaram. The director duo of Dorai – Bahagwan is the first to make James Bond style movies in Kannada. Then they went on directing great movies like Kasturi

Nivasa (1971), Eradu Kanasu (1974), Bayalu dhari (1977), Gaali Mathu (1981),

Chandayana Gombe (1979), Hosa Belaku (1982), Benkiya Bale (1983), Jeevana

Chaitra (1992) and more bond style movies such as dalli C.I.D 999 (1968),

Operation Jackpot C.I.D 999 (1969) and Operation Diamond Racket (1978). Apart from Rajkumar, the director duo directed many movies with actors Ananth Nag and Lakshmi. They have directed 30 films with Rajkumar as the hero. The duo has won Puttanna Kanagal Award from State Government of Karnataka for the year


1980s and 1990s.

The 80's saw the emergence of V. Ravichandran, Shivarajkumar and Ramesh

Aravind as top heroes, with a good number of family oriented films made during this period. Rajendra Singh Babu, D. Rajendra Babu, V. Somashekhar, and M.S Rajshekhar are some of the best directors of this era. H. R. Bhargava directed numerous popular Kannada movies during this period.

Ravichandran and Hamsalekha successfully created a blend exclusively for youth.

Son of the well known movie producer late N Veeraswamy, Ravichandran is a multifaceted artist who has shown his skill in acting, direction, production and music direction. He debuted as an actor in Khadeema Kallaru , a movie which he produced in 1982. His first role as the hero was in 1984 in Nane Raja. In 1987 he

26 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

directed and acted in Premaloka, considered a landmark film in kannada on account of its music and treatment. His movie Ramachari was a monster hit in

1991 that cemented his position as a star. He has shifted to mature roles in the last few years and his recent movie Drishya (2014) was a major box office hit that won critical acclaim as well. His role as the head of a middle class family was highly appreciated. Ravichandran brought in actresses from other industries. The same era also marked the beginning of many actresses such as Bhavya,

Mahalaxmi, , Tara, , , Vanitha Vasu, Anjana, and Shruthi.

Shivaraj Kumar, the eldest son of Rajkumar made his debut in 1986 with the hit movie and followed it up with two more blockbusters in succession –

Rathasapthami (1986) and Mana Mechchida Hudugi (1987). He has completed almost three decades in the industry and is still going strong with more than 100 movies under his belt.

During late 70s and 80s, two female actors stood out when it came to star power –

Manjula and Malashree. Manjula who formed a hit pair with Rajkumar ( Eradu

Kanasu, Mayura, etc), Vishnuvardhan (Galate Samsara, Guru Shishyaru) and

Srinath (Besuge) had a great fan following. Her roles as an aggressive woman were much appreciated in 1980s. Malashree shot to fame in 1989 through the super hit Nanjundi Kalyana and acted in several movies centered around her character. It is said that at one point in time the only saleable star in Kannada movies was Malashree. She is married to producer Ramu and is still active in movies. She plays the role of a female protagonist in most of her movies.

27 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

S V Rajendra Singh (Babu), Bharghava, Dorai – Bahgawan and Sai Prakash were some of the popular directors during this time. The new wave parallel cinema seemed to lose steam during this time and only Girish Kasaravalli was active with movies such as Aakramana (2014), Muru Darigalu (1981) and Tabarana Kathe

(1987) in the 80s and Mane (1990), Kraurya (1996) and Thayi Saheba (1997) in the 90s.

New millennium

The industry suffered heavy losses with the demise of superstars Rajkumar and

Vishnuvardhan. The passing of other actors like Prabhakar, K. S. Ashwath and also gave a huge setback to the industry.

This decade also saw the emergence of talented artists like

(Rajkumar's third son), Upendra, Sudeep, Darshan (son of actor Thoogudeepa

Srinivas), Ganesh, , and . Among the female actors, Ramya,

Rakshita, Radhika, , Sharmila Mandre, , and

Ragini Dwivedi were in the top league starring in many commercial cinema.

Ace director Upendra turned into an actor and acted in many super hit films like A

(1998), Upendra(1999) (first Kannada movie to release in Japan),

Buddhivantha(2008), Super(2010) and Katari Veera Surasundarangi(2012) (first full length in Kannada).

28 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

Puneet Rajkumar (youngest son of Rajkumar) is popularly called “Power Star” and is among one of the top heroes in Kannada. He has acted as a child artist in more than a dozen movies among which Bettada Hoovu had fetched him a national award as the best child actor in 1985. He made his debut as a hero with

Appu in 2002 and has been delivering a series of hits ever since that include Abhi

(2003), Milana (2007), Arasu (2007), Prithvi (2010), and (2012) to name just a few.

Sudeep is a major draw in box office for Kannada movies. He made his debut as a lead actor4 in the 1999 hit Sparsha and is known for his performances. Other than acting, he has shown his talent in direction as well, with hit movies such as My

Autograph (2006), Veera Madakari (2009), Mat Matalli (2010) , Kempegowda

(2011) etc. Perhaps he is the only actor from Karnataka who is well known outside on account of the roles he has played in Telugu, Hindi and Tamil movies.

Darshan, son of yester year character actor, late Toogudeepa Srinivas, is another hero who commends a large fan following. He is known for action roles and his role as the hero in the historical movie Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna (2012) brought him good reviews. The latest in the line of popular stars in Yash whose recent movies Gajakesari (2014) and Mr & Mrs Ramachari (2014) have done very good business at the box office.

Child actor became the youngest director of a professionally made feature film in the world (Guinness Book of World Records) by directing

C/o Footpath (2006), at the age of 9 years in Kannada which won him the Best

4 As an actor he debuted in the movie Thayavva in 1997

29 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

Children's Film National Award in 2007, two Karnataka State Awards and 11

International Awards from countries including , Spain, Greece, , Qatar,

Iran, USA and UK.

Kannada actress won the Best Actress National Award for the movie

Gulabi Talkies in 2009. The film was also screened at Osian's Cinefan Festival of

Asian and 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 in 2009. A function was held 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.

In 2010, Vishnuvardhan's final film, Aptharakshaka, created new box office records. In the same year, Upendra's 2010 film titled Super collected Rs.35 and broke all the records till date, becoming the highest grossing movie of the year. Darshan's Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna, produced by Anand Appugol, is believed to be the most expensive (30 crore) Kannada film to date, and one of the highest grossing film (40 crore) in the history of Kannada cinema. The highest grossing Kannada movie is , collecting 45 crores in its one year theatrical run.

Critical reception and Parallel cinema

30 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

Film directors from the Kannada film industry like Girish Kasaravalli, M.S.Sathyu have garnered international recognition. Other noted directors include Puttanna

Kanagal, G. V. Iyer, T. S. Nagabharana, P. Sheshadri, Girish Karnad, V.

Ravichandran Yogaraj Bhat, Soori, Guruprasad and Upendra who has earned 14th place in world popular director list Whopopular.com.

Some influential Kannada films include Samskara (1970) (based on a novel by U.

R. Ananthamurthy), Vamshavruksha (1971), Bhootayyana Maga Ayyu (1974),

Chomana Dudi (1975), Hamsageethe (1975), Ghatashraddha (1977), Kaadu

Kudure (1979), Bara (1979), Maanasa Sarovara (1982), Accident (1985),

Tabarana Kathe (1987), Kraurya (1996), Thaayi Saheba (1997), Mane (2000) and

Dweepa (2002)

Following is the list of major national awards won by Kannada cinema

CATEGORY : BEST FILM ( PRESIDENT’S GOLDEN LOTUS) Year Film Director 1970 Samskara T Pattabhiramareddy 1975 Chomana Dudi B V Karanth 1977 Ghatashraddha Girish Kasaravalli 1986 Tabarana Kathe Girish Kasaravalli 1997 Thayi Saheba Girish Kasaravalli 2000 Dweepa Girish Kasaravalli 1973 Kaadu* (2nd best – Silver) Girish Karnad

CATEGORY : BEST CHILDREN FILM Year Film Director 1979 Dangeyedda Makkalu U S Vadiraj

31 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

1989 Jambu Sawari Lalitha

CATEGORY : BEST DIRECTOR Year Film Director 1971 Vamshavriksha B V Karanth & Girish Karnad 1976 Pallavi P Lankesh

CATEGORY : BEST ACTOR (MALE) Year Film Actor 1975 Chomana Dudi M V Vasudeva Rao 1986 Tabarana Kathe 2014 Naanu Avanalla Avalu

CATEGORY : BEST ACTOR (FEMALE) Year Film Director 1973 Kaadu Nandini Bhaktavatsala 2005 Hasina Tara 2008 Umashree

CATEGORY : BEST CHILD ACTOR Year Film Actor 1973 Kaadu G S Nataraj 1977 Ghatashraddha 1985 Bettada Huvu Punith Rajkumar 1994 Kotreshi Kanasu Vijaya Raghavendra 1995 Kraurya Master Vishwas


32 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

1975 Hamsageete Balamuralikrishna (Singer) 1976 Rishyashringa B V Karanth (Music) 1977 Ghatashraddha B V Karanth (Music) 1978 Kadukudure S. Subbanna (Singer) 1986 Madhvacharya Malamuralikrishna (Music) 1993 Jeevana Chaitra Rajkumar (Singer) 1995 Pachakshara Gavayi S P Balasubramaniam (Singer) 1995 Panchakshara Gavayi Hamsalekha (Music)

CATEGORY : BEST PHOTOGRAPHER Year Film Director 1976 Rishyashringa S Ramachandra 1977 Kokila 1981 Mooru Darigalu Shripad R Bhat 2002 Dweepa H Ramachandra

SPECIAL CATEGORY AWARDS Year Film Category 1978 Grahana National Integration 1985 Accident Social Concern 1987 Pushpaka Vimana Popular and Entertainment 1989 Santa Shishunala Sharifa National Integration 1993 Devara Kadu Environmental Concern 1997 Bhoomi Geetha Environmental Concern 2000 Munnudi Social Concern 2005 Haseena Family Planning 2007 Kallarali Hoovagi National Integration

OTHER CATEGORY AWARDS Year Film Winner 1986 Madhvacharya P Krishnamurthy for design

33 Part 2: Kannada Cinema – A Brief History

1991 Mallige K S Narasimhaswamy for song (lyrics) 1997 Thayisaheba Acting (special award) 1997 Thayisaheba Ramesh Desia for Art Direction 1997 Thayi Saheba Vaishali Kasaravalli for Costume Design 2005 Haseena Ishrat Nissar for Costume Design

A comparison of National Awards won in major categories across languages Best Best Best Language Best Film Director Actor(M) Actor(F) Assamese 1 1 0 1 Beary 1 0 0 0 Bengali 22 15 4 7 English 0 1 2 3 Hindi 13 8 21 20 Malayalam 11 12 13 5 Kannada 6 2 3 3 Marathi 4 1 3 2 Punjabi 0 1 0 0 Sanskrit 2 0 0 0 Telugu 0 0 0 3 Tamil 2 4 7 6 Urdu 0 0 0 1

34 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns


The first Kannada movie (talkie) was released in 1934 and it has been 80 years since then. From a lowly 2 movies per year in the beginning, the industry now makes about 125 films in a year. It has seen great pioneering efforts from Gubbi

Veeranna, B R Pantulu, D Shankar Singh, R Nagendra Rao to name a few. It had

Rajkumar, an actor par excellence and a star that shone brightly followed by outstanding performers such as Vishnuvardhan, Ambareesh, Anant Nag, Jayanti,

Bharati, Aarati and many more. Its contribution to parallel cinema has been significant with Girish Kasaravalli leading the brigade that constitutes of G V Iyer,

B V Karanth, Girish Karnad and so forth. Directors like Puttanna Kanagal and

Siddalingayya demonstrated that they are second to none when it comes to the craft of film making.

However, even after 80 years, the industry seems to be still in the struggling . A report on film industry in India mentions that there is a resurgence of regional cinema in India, which has been attracting investments from major film studios to tap potential of these markets. However, Kannada cinema is not getting this benefit as the growth seems to be happening in Marathi, Bengali,

1 The content in this section draws from many secondary sources and primary sources from the following five film personalities who were interviewed by the author –  Mr. Thomas D’Souza, President, Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce,  Mr.B M Harish, Hon.Secretary, Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce,  Mr. K C N Chandru, Film Producer and Distributor  Mr. N M Kumar, Film Producer and Exhibitor  Mr. S V Rajendra Singh Babu, Producer, Director and Chairman, Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy.

35 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns

Punjabi and Bhojpuri Cinema2. Certain issues such as dominance of non-Kannada movies in the state, financing & distribution problems, that that plagued the industry 80 years ago, continue to plague the industry even now. In addition there are newer issues. Firstly, the revenue windows for movies have shortened drastically and the fate of any movie is decided in the first 3 days. This puts tremendous challenge on the producers on leveraging on multiple source of revenues in a short time. Secondly, with more than 800 television channels offering a variety of content to more than 100 million pay – TV households3, the industry has the challenge of luring consumers to theatres from their cozy living rooms. Thirdly, the cost of movie making itself has skyrocketed with high star remunerations and high input costs in all other aspects of movie making. Fourth, with technology accessible to everyone cheaply, the issue of piracy is a challenge that the industry is struggling with. Fifth, the movie makers are faced with the challenge of adapting to the ever changing consumer tastes and preferences.

Sixth, Kannada cinema still depends on the shrinking number of single screens and has not exploited the potential of the new distribution channel called multiplexes. The following section highlights the issues currently being faced by the Kannada movie industry.

1. The Issue of Kannada Identity

Noted movie maker KCN Chandru feels that people of Karnataka do not have one

“Kannada Identity”. Hence they do not patronize Kannada movies as much as

2 “Film Industry in India : New Horizons”, Ernst & Young Report, www.indiabusiness.nic.in accessed on 16th August 2015 3 “Film Industry in India – New Horizons” Ernst & Young Report, www.indiabusiness.nic.in accessed on 15th August 2015

36 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns

Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam people patronizing their own language movies. As the number of people watching Kannada movies is lower, producers have severe limitations on spending lavishly on star cast, location etc. As a result of this, the quality of Kannada movies pales in comparison to Hindi and other south Indian language movies.

However, there seems to be some merit in the lack of Kannada identity argument especially when it comes to movies. Karnataka can be broadly said to consist of four distinct geographical regions as applicable to the movie industry.

 Mysore Karnataka

Consisting of the erstwhile Mysore province. This includes the southern,

south central and south-eastern districts of Karnataka. The language

mostly spoken is Kannada, and in some border districts Tamil and Telugu


 Mumbai Karnataka

Consisting of the districts that fell under the erstwhile Mumbai

presidency under British rule. This includes the north western districts

such as Belagavi, , Gadag, Bagalkot, Vijayapura etc. Kannada is

spoken extensively but a significant Marathi and Urdu speaking

population exists. Hindi is generally spoken and understood by the


37 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns

 Hyderabad Karnataka

Mainly made up of the erstwhile Nizam province. This area includes

districts such as , Bellary, and Kalaburgi which are towards

the north eastern part of Karnataka. Kannada is spoken but Urdu and

Hindi are spoken extensively

 Coastal Karnataka

Consists mainly of Udupi, South Kanara and North Kanara districts which

were earlier part of the . All people speak Kannada but

local languages such as Tulu and Konkani dominate here. Tulu movies are

patronized extensively.

These geographical zones within Karnataka exhibit significant diversity. The people belonging to these regions not only have different mother tongues (Tulu,

Konkani, Kodava etc) but they also do not speak the same Kannada. For example the Kannada spoken in northern Karnataka has its own accent and contains lot of words from Marathi and Hindi. The people are culturally very different and there is variation in everything from their eating habits to the way they dress. Their customs are also different. This in fact poses quite a few challenges to movie makers in Kannada. First of all, there is no guarantee that the theme liked by one region would be liked by others. Secondly, the subtlety and the metaphors used in language is not understood by all. For example, an award winning movie

38 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns

“Ondanondu Kaladalli” made by noted director Girish Karnad, did not run much in southern parts of Karnataka as the movie was made with Kannada spoken in northern Karnataka.

One outcome of the diversity within the state is that it is difficult for all people to imagine a holistic all-inclusive Kannada identity. Perhaps this is the reason why

Kannada people create an impression that they lack pride in being . They perhaps do not attach very strongly to Kannada language and culture. The detachment may lead to ignorance and negative perception as well.

Chetan Nadiger4 feels that many people believe that Kannada movies are no good as compared to movies being made in other languages. Their opinion seems to stem from pre-conceived notions rather than actual experiences as a majority these people would have not watched Kannada movies in years. He argues that an industry that makes more than 120 movies in a year must be knowing the business well.

While what is said above is a testimony to detachment, there are issues with

Kannada people from the border districts. M N Kumar says people from the border districts such as C R Nagar, Belagavi, Bidar, Raichur, Bellary,

Chikkaballapur and Kolar do not habitually watch Kannada movies. There is a significant non-Kannada population in these areas which prefers to watch non-

Kannada movies which are exhibited extensively in these districts. Needless to say, they lure Kannada audience as well.

4 Udayavani, Kalavihara section, 7th August 2015

39 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns

2. The Issue of Limited Market

Mr. Kumar N M and K C N Chandru, both well known producers and exhibitors feel Kannada movies simply can not match other language movies in their budget as the market is limited. There seems to be some merit in this argument. Hindi movies have a national plus international markets and hence can spend more than Rs. 50 - 60 crores on a movie. For example, the 2014 Aamir starrer

PK, dubbed into Chinese collected more than Rs.100 crore in alone.5Tamil movies too have markets outside India in south Asian markets such as Malaysia,

Singapore and . Telugu movies are screened in the USA. Moreover the population of undivided Andhra and Tamil Nadu is significantly higher than

Karnataka and, the movie watching habits in these states is higher than in

Karnataka. However, there are people in the industry who believe this is not a major issue. For example, noted Kannada movie producer Rockline , on the other hand, feels that if you make a good movie it is possible to lure people into theatres6. Supporting this argument in a newspaper article,7 Jogi cites the stupendous success of the Telugu movie Bahubali which collected Rs. 9 in 4 days in a small place called Madhugiri with just 28000 population. This was in spite of the ticket rates being raised during the exhibition of this movie.

Jogi goes ahead and says that if only one third of the people in Kannada watch a movie, the collection within Karanataka itself will be around Rs.200 crores.

5 “Passage to India” by Ananth Krsihnan, India Today July 13, 2015 6 Udayavani July 2015. 7 Udayavani , 17th July 2015

40 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns

More than this, the problem seems to be that the Kannada movie industry has not been able to expand the market in the last few decades. In fact, it seems to have shrunk8 as compared to earlier years. S V Rajendra Singh Babu, a very experienced movie producer and director, says that in late 1940s and early 50s

Kannada movies were being screened in a significant number of theatres of border districts of neighboring states such as Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

The trend seems to have not only vanished but reversed in recent times, with border districts of Karnataka exhibiting more and more of other language movies and less of Kannada movies.

3. Lack of Movie Making Ecosystem

Movie making infrastructure in Karnataka has not developed much in the last few decades. The existing studios seem to lack all the facilities required to shoot movies. One reason for the lack of development of facilities can be attributed to the absence of entrepreneurial initiative by media and entertainment industry persons towards developing infrastructure. The neighboring states have set good examples. In Telugu industry, veteran actors such as. N T Rama Rao, A.

Nageswar Rao, Krishna have all invested in studios and movie production.9 The crowning glory is the famed built by . In Tamil movie industry, actors such as Sivaji Ganesan invested in theatres. In Kannada, such efforts have been relatively less. Though personalities such as Balakrishna and

Abbayi Nayudu did make efforts to set up studios in Karnataka, success eluded

8 Relative to the increase in population. Population of Karnataka in 1970s was estimated to be 30 million while it is about 60 million in 2015. The increase in the number of kannada movie watchers may not have increased proportionately. 9 Ramakrishna Studios, Annapoorna Studios and Padmalaya Pictures.

41 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns them which may have acted as a deterrent to others. Producer K C N Chandru feels that Karnataka simply does not have the right ecosystem for making movies. Other than the problems of studios, he points to high level of bureaucracy to get permission to shoot movies in out door locations.

Film maker S V Rajendra Singh and Thomas D’souza10 feel that good film institutes can contribute a lot towards improving quality of films. They are of the opinion that Karnataka needs something like FTII11. Though Karnataka has a film institute in Bangalore called Adarsh Film & TV Institute (AFTI), the scope of this institute is limited to Acting, Direction, Playback singing, Editing and

Cinematography. On the other hand, FTII has a wide range of diploma and graduate programmes in various facets of film making such as direction, screenplay, acting, cinematography, sound recording, sound design, editing, art direction and production design. FTII boasts of illustrious alumni such as

Shabana Azmi, , Puri, (all in acting), Adoor

Goplakrishnan, Girish Kasaravalli, , Sanjay Leela Bansali (in direction) and Rasool Pookutti (technical) who have made it big at national and international levels. It is unfortunate that Adarsh Film & TV Institute is not in a position to demonstrate such a track record. Thomas D’Souza is of the opinion that AFTI is short of resources and quality inputs which impacts the output. Film

Institutes other than FTII have generally not fared well in India. However with the advent of private entrepreneurship in this arena, things seem to be improving. Some noteworthy examples are “Whistling Woods” film institute set

10 President, Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce 11 Film and Television Institute of India located in Pune.

42 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns up by well known Bollywood director Subash Ghai (another FTII alumnus) and L

V Prasad Film and TV academies in Chennai, and


Kannada movie industry has also not been able to collaborate with International studios, which have been showing increased interest in India. Studios such as

Warner Bros, Disney, Fox and Dreamworks have tied up with local production houses UTV and Viacom18. International collaborations can help the local film makers to leverage the experience of the big studios in increasing the reach, controlling the cost and planning the projects efficiently12.

Unlike Hindi and other language movies, which are funded by professional financial institutions, Kannada movies still depend largely on private finance.

This impacts adversely in multiple dimensions. Firstly, private finance is costly as compared to banks and hence the risk on the producer is very high when money is borrowed from private financiers. Secondly, private financiers may want to bring in their perceived expertise into the movies that they have made in the form of recommendations and influences. This curbs the creative freedom and flexibility that the movie makers would like to have. Though cinema is now recognized as an industry, and finance is available from professional bodies,

Kannada cinema, rather than exploiting this, seems to have abused this. S V

Rajendra Singh Babu feels that banks are hesitant to finance Kannada movies because the loan repayment track record is not good. Same is the scenario with

12 “Film Industry in India : New Horizons” , Ernst & Young Report, www.indiabusiness.nic.in accessed on 16th August 2015

43 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns

TV channels, which is a potential revenue earner for movies. Producers can sell

TV broadcasting rights at good prices but it appears that the channels are cautious with Kannada movies. Producer – director Sheshadri, who has made several successful movies, points out that the channels did support producers earlier and there were instances where payment was made for TV rights even while the movie was under production. However, most of these movies never got completed and this made them stay away from Kannada movies.13

4. Shortage of Theatres in Karnataka

There are about 10500 single screen cinemas and 900 multiplexes in India.

These numbers are considered miniscule for a country with a population of over

1300 million people. There are just 10 screens per million people in India as compared to USA, which boasts of 120 screens per million people.14 In the recent times, there has been a significant growth in multiplexes and all the major players such as PVR, Cinepolis, Inox have big expansion plans for multiplexes.

Around 60% of the screens in India are located in South India which is still largely dominated by single screens. Among the south Indian states Andhra

Pradesh has about 2800 single screens while Tamil Nadu has 1546. Kerala ranks next with 1015 single screens. Karnataka lags behind with 959 single screens.15

Bengaluru has the largest share of 150 single screens out of this number.

13 Sudha kannada weekly, 16th July 2015 14 Anand J, “Show Time”, Business Today, 13th May 2012 15 Website of Film Federation of India accessed on 10th August 2015. However, S V Rajendra Singh Babu is of the opinion that many out of this are dysfunctional and pegs the number around 700.

44 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns

It may be argued that in proportion to the movies produced in Kannada compared to Tamil and Telugu, the number of theatres in Karnataka should be adequate. However this does not seem to be the case as the penetration of non-

Kannada movies has been very deep in Karnataka. Out of the 950 theatres, it is estimated that about 300 – 350 theatres exhibit non-Kannada movies at any given point in time. In fact, the recent Telugu block buster movie Bahubali was released in as many as 250 theatres across Karanataka16. While Bangalore has always been a good market for non-Kannada movies, Telugu and Tamil movies were hardly screened in north Karnataka two decades ago. But now Dharwad, a small town in north Karnataka which has 6 single screens in total, was showing

Bahubali in three theatres.

Producer M N Kumar feels that the theatres in Karnataka show non-Kannada movies because there are not enough Kannada movies available. He points that popular actors having “pull factor” such as Puneet Rajkumar, Sudeep, Darshan,

Yash and Shivaraj Kumar are very choosy and act in very few movies and this creates shortage of Kannada movies that guarantee viewership.

Apart from increase in the share of non-Kannada movies in theatres, there also is the problem of single screens shutting down due to economic non-viability. A decade ago the number of single screen in India was 13700 and now it has shrunk to 10500. While some have converted to multiplexes, or malls or wedding halls, many have shut down. Multiplexes, growth of television and widespread

16 Bahubali was simultaneously released in Telugu, Tamil and Hindi languages. All these versions were released in Karnataka.

45 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns availability of DVDs and movies on smart phones and You Tube are cited to be among the factors behind the decline of single screens.17

Karnataka is not spared from this problem. Many single screens have shut shop not only in Bangalore but also in places such as Mysore, , Dharwad, etc.

Decades ago there used to be mobile theatres called “Touring Talkies” which went from place to place to exhibit movies. They mainly operated in smaller places catering to the rural folk. At one point in time there were as many as 600 mobile theatres operating in Karnataka and a majority of them were exhibiting

Kannada movies. These have been closed down on account of Government regulations to compulsorily move towards permanent theatres.

Another major problem for Kannada movies is they are not able to secure screening in high-end theatres given the high rents for these theatres. The producers of cash strapped Kannada movies would like the theatres to exhibit movies on percentage basis but the owners are not ready for this since the other language movies are ready for rental agreements.

5. Poor Condition of Theatres

Today movie watching is not just functional. People go to theatres for an overall good experience. For them, entertainment is not just the content of the movie but includes the end-to-end experience. In large cities, especially metros, people travel long distance wading through bad traffic to reach movie halls and they

17 Website of National Business accessed on 10th August 2015. ‘Tax & multiplexes make India’s ingle screen cinemas unviable” by Rebecca Bundhun, 3rd May, 2014

46 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns expect good parking space, courteous box office personnel, good seats, clean ambience, fresh snacks and air conditioning that works. Though the viewer segments that watch movies in multiplexes and single screens is different, a majority of the single screen audience have watched movies in multiplexes at least a couple of times. This sets their expectations in terms of theatre facilities and even though they may not expect multiplex type facilities in single screens, their tolerance to sub optimal facilities seems to have come down drastically.

The result is that they would rather avoid theatres, which they perceive as lacking in facilities. When Kannada movies are shown in such theatres, they would rather not watch the movies.

Audience today, have better alternatives to watching movies in poorly maintained theatres. The experience of viewing movies and TV programs at home is enriched on account of high definition telecasting by many channels. 3D

TVs are making inroads into the living rooms of upper middle class families. The time between theatrical release and TV premiers is getting shortened by the day and people do not mind waiting for the movie to be on TV.

6. Issue of Legislation on Multiplexes

In April 2015, the State government has issued a diktat to the various multiplexes to ensure prime time screening of Kannada movies and to make tickets more affordable to the viewers. The Chief Minister of the state held a meeting where he said that he had directed multiplexes to give primacy to

Kannada films. Many industry representatives including actors and

Jayamala and Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy Chairperson S V Rajendra Singh

47 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns contended that multiplexes were neglecting Kannada movies. They said that the ticket prices were exorbitant and therefore Kannada people were not watching the movies in multiplexes. Multiplex owners on the other hand denied this by claiming that they had not priced the tickets over Rs.130. They pointed out that most of the Kannada movies do not do well as a result of which they have to cut short the screening hours. Exceptions to this have been hit movies like Mungaru

Male and that were screened for maximum hours in multiplexes.

Multiplexes seem to be apprehensive of allotting prime time slots for Kannada movies due to low returns. Their investment and operating costs being high, they would want to allot prime time to movies that people watch in large numbers.

In Karnataka a large number of multiplexes are coming up especially in

Bengaluru. The multiplexes are managed professionally and they pay their dues to the government fairly and in time. Hence the government may not want to restrict the multiplexes in terms of mandating exhibition of Kannada movies, timing of exhibitions and the admission rates. On the other hand, S V Rajendra

Singh Babu feels that there should be some compulsion on part of the multiplexes to show Kannada movies and also to charge lower admission rates to viewers of Kannada movies. The admission rates for the first two rows in multiplexes in Tamil Nadu is pegged at Rs.10 and in Maharashtra state there is a compulsion on part of multiplexes to exhibit Marathi movies18. Compared to this,

Kannada cinema seems to be at a disadvantage with regard to multiplexes.

18 “Sudha” kannada weekly , 16th July 2015

48 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns

7. High Cost of Making Movies

At present, it costs on an average about Rs. 4 crores to make a Kannada movie and about 120-150 movies are made every year. This works out to an investment of about Rs.500 crores every year. According to Karnataka Film Chamber of

Commerce (KFCC), only a handful of these recover costs, while most of the others incur losses19. The market size for Kannada movies was estimated to be around

Rs. 200 crores only in 200820. Factoring in inflation, increased ticket prices and possible increase of revenue due to increased viewership, the current (2014) would be around 300 crores21. This shows that the Kannada movie industry is making losses to the tune of Rs.200 crores every year. Hence compared to the revenue side, the cost of making movies in Kannada is high. It is highly doubtful whether an industry, which depends largely on private finance and is just 2% in revenues among south Indian movies can sustain this trend.

According to industry experts, the main reason for this is not inflation but inefficiencies in movie making. If a Telugu or a Malayalam movie is completed in

4-5 months time, Kannada movies apparently take 2 more months. Producer and exhibitor N M Kumar says that there is too much of wastage on account of too much shooting and this makes the cycle time longer for Kannada movies. He attributes this to tentativeness among directors who are new and do not have the right experience. While they are passionate about making movies ,they do not have the adequate training. The tradition of “apprenticeship” under well known directors, seems to have vanished from the industry.

19 This was corroborated by Thomas D’Souza, President, KFCC. In addition various websites listed only about a dozen kannada movies as hits during the period 2010 – 2015. 20 www.indiantelevision.com accessed on 15th August 2015 21 authors estimate

49 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns

8. Issue of Movies into Kannada

Perhaps Karnataka is the only state where dubbing from other languages into

Kannada is not allowed. Movies, television serials and all other visual entertainment contents in other languages, are not allowed to be dubbed into

Kannada. This ban has been in force for more than 50 years. The ban has no legal sanctity and has been enforced by private bodies such as Karnataka Film

Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) and other similar organizations. This was done six decades ago in order to give boost to the then ailing Kannada film industry under the aegis of the legendary actor Rajkumar. This indeed has helped the industry to scale from 10 movies a year to more than 100 movies a year now. However the ban still continues which according to legal experts, is unconstitutional. Indian

Constitution allows freedom of expression and free movement of people and languages within the country. No state can discriminate against the other languages. Even though the ban on dubbing is unofficial, it works almost like a government imposed ban.

Opinion seems to be divided on the issue of dubbing movies into Kannada language. Film and entertainment industry people, especially the actors and directors, feel that it will impact the industry adversely and destroy the local industry. The fear seems to be that if dubbing is allowed hundreds of English,

Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and other language movies will flood the market and eventually kill Kannada film industry. As it is the industry is facing severe competition from other language movies and if these movies are dubbed into

50 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns

Kannada, even the people watching Kannada movies will shift to movies dubbed into Kannada language.

On the other hand, persons in favour of dubbing argue that it will enable the habit of watching movies in Kannada, thereby increasing receptivity to movies made in Kannada. Dubbing can also expose exclusive Kannada audience to good movies from other languages thereby refining their tastes. This in turn, would make the Kannada film industry to seek better stories, good production values and suitable star cast. Many in the industry believe that there is a section of producers who want the dubbing ban to be lifted and there are some who even seem to have already purchased dubbing rights of some non-Kannada movies.

However, at present no one is crossing the implicit “no dubbing” diktat22.

Noted Kannada actor is of the opinion that instead of trying to stop others through restrictions, it would be better to strengthen our practices.

However, he points that in other states, there are indirect tactics of preventing dubbing such as higher tax rates for dubbed movies etc. He feels that such tactics enable only extraordinary movies to be dubbed.23 A very well known Director points that in many countries outside India (such as in China and France), it is mandatory to exhibit foreign movies only after they have been dubbed into local language. However, the audience in these countries predominantly speak in local language with hardly any knowledge of foreign languages. Hence it only makes sense to dub foreign language movies. On the other hand, the audience in

22 Sudha kannada weekly, 16th July 2015 23 Udayavani, Manipal Edition, 30th July 2015

51 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns

Karnataka have some amount of familiarity with other south Indian languages and Hindi and hence are likely to be comfortable watching movies in these languages. Moreover, all South Indian languages come from the common stock of

Dravidian languages. It is therefore relatively easier for a South Indian to understand another Dravidian language as compared to a Chinese trying to understand a foreign language. Anyway, dubbing movies into Kannada has been and continues to be a sensitive issue. Strong, diverse opinions exist among major stakeholders such as actors, producers, distributors, directors and exhibitors. On top of this, the issue of dubbing has been much politicized. A major protest has been planned on 26th August 2015 in Bengaluru where more than one people are expected to participate.24

9. Issue of the Star System

While movies can attract audience through genre25, narrative or production values, it is the stars that initially pull the crowd into the theatres. In the language of the cinema trade stars are supposed to ensure minimum guarantee26. This is an universal phenomena observed without exception in

Hollywood, Bollywood, and in south Indian cinema. In Kannada cinema,

Rajkumar had tremendous crowd pulling ability which is unmatched till today.

Others such as Vishnuvardhan, Ambareesh, Anant Nag, Shankar Nag, ,

Ravichandran and Upendra have had their own fan following. In the current times Ramesh, Shivaraj Kumar, Sudeep, Puneeth Rajkumar, Darshan and Yash are considered to be stars with good brand name and crowd pulling ability.

24 Udayavani, 9th August 2015, Manipal Edition. 25 A particular type of story – for example horror is a genre 26 An assured minimum revenue during the initial days of the release on account of fans who watch a particular star’s movie irrespective of reviews.

52 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns

However, the star system comes with its own baggage. First of all, the cost of the movie shoots up when a star is signed on and hence not everyone can afford to have stars in their movies. This suits the stars as well because they are choosy and would like to avoid over exposure. The major stars in Kannada cinema restrict themselves to 1-2 movies per year and that adds up to about 10 movies per year. This leaves out 90% of the movies and they need to struggle to secure attention. M N Kumar says that there are no takers for these movies and hence exhibitors prefer non-Kannada movies. Karnataka has always welcomed movies from other languages and popular stars from Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and

Malayalam have enjoyed good fan following in the state. Another dis-advantage of the start system has been that stars have their own preferences in terms of certain crew members and the manner in which the movie needs to take shape.

With inexperienced directors holding the baton, it becomes easy for the stars to dominate the movie making process. A well-known producer says that while

Tamil and Telugu stars wait for the directors to summon them, the situation is reverse in Karnataka with the directors doting on stars.

10. Unethical Practices at Theatres

The State Government has given tax holiday for Kannada movies while non-

Kannada movies are levied a tax of 30%. This was done with an intention of making Kannada movies popular through lower ticket pricing. However, this does not seem to be yielding the intended results. Audience do not seem to mind watching non – Kannada movies even though they need to pay a higher price for admission. Even at a lower ticket pricing audience do not seem to think Kannada movies are worth watching. In market where the customers have several

53 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns alternatives (other language movies) available to them and each product is perceived differently by them in terms of its features27, customers will make choices that will maximize their utility28. Moreover, as the non-Kannada movies are released in good theatres, customers may not mind paying a higher price for admission.

S V Rajendra Singh Babu says that the tax-free facility given to Kannada cinema is being exploited by single screens who show non-Kannada movies and charge higher admission rates (as 30% sales tax). On records, these movies are shown as Kannada movies and taxes are not paid to the Government. This he says is one of the main reasons for single screens prefer to show non-Kannada movies. On the other hand, M N Kumar thinks otherwise. He feels while a handful of theatres could be doing this, a majority of the theatres in Karnataka are owned by

Kannadigas29 and they would any day prefer showing Kannada movies. The problem according to Kumar is that there are not enough sustainable Kannada movies to screen. He also points to the practice of producer – distributors demanding high advance payments from theatre owners, which is making the theatre owners turn away from Kannada movies.

At the same time, Kumar also points to the practice of hiking the ticket prices when new, much awaited blockbuster movies are released. Theatres want to take advantage of the demand and charge premium for the admission. There are instances where ticket prices go as high as Rs.1000. When viewers from middle

27 In the context of movies, features would mean star cast, story, reviews, production values, music etc. 28 Similarly utility in the context of movies would mean entertainment value and the overall experience. 29 Kannada people – people of Kannada Origin

54 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns class pay such high prices to watch one movie, they may not be in a position to spend money on watching another movie in that month.

11. Issue of Quality & Originality

There is a perception that Kannada cinema lacks originality and is of lower quality as compared to its counterparts across the state borders. There is some support to this argument as Kannada cinema seems to borrow heavily from other languages. S V Rajendra Singh Babu says that 20 – 25 % of the movies made in Kannada are remakes of hits from other languages. The tradition of remakes is not new to the Indian film industry. There have been remakes from

Hindi into regional languages and visa versa. , a recent Malayalam blockbuster has been made into Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Hindi. Same was the case with Tamil hit Sooryavansham a few years ago. In the 1970s hit Kannada movies such as Nagarahavu, Bhootayyana Maga Aiyyu and Shankar Guru were remade in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil. However, in recent times more number of other language movies is being made in Kannada with stray cases of Kannada movies being made in other languages. Most of the 48 movies produced by

Dwarakeesh were remakes. Earlier stars such as Vishnuvardhan and Ambareesh did not have qualms about acting in remakes. In fact for some stars, the biggest hits of their career have been remakes. Among the current stars Sudeep,

Darshan, Puneet Rajkumar and Upendra have all acted in remake movies. The main attraction for remaking hit movies is that it has a formula that has already succeeded. In addition to this, for cash strapped industry, remakes are a way of cutting down developmental costs in movie making. However, many remake movies have failed either because they have been watched by many in their

55 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns original version, or they have been remade badly. The themes of many remake movies are alien to Kannada culture and the makers do not seem to take cognizance of this. There are instances where the original has been copied frame- to-frame, dialogue-to-dialogue and song-to-song without any effort being made to localize them.

12. Channel Conflict

Movie making is considered as a creative process. It may begin as an idea, an ideal, or a thin story line. Yesteryear actor Anand, in his autobiography30 writes that he read R K Narayan’s novel “The Guide” in one sitting and decided to make it into a movie. Without losing a moments time he seems to have made an overseas call to the author to convey his intent. About the all time blockbuster

Hindi movie it is said that it began with a two-line story of a retired army officer taking the help of two crooks to nab a notorious dacoit. However, to set the movie making process in motion, the first requirement is someone with money to produce the movie. This person may come with his own money or borrow the money from the market. The Director then takes charge to mobilize other resources (technical crew and star cast) and actually creates a product.

The product (movie) is sold to distributors and from there on it goes to exhibitors (theatres) for consumption by the audience (consumer). Hence the value chain for movies can be depicted as below -

30 “Romancing with Life”, 2007, Penguin India

56 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns






There is interdependency among entities shown above and for an efficient delivery from the point of origin to the point of consumption, it is necessary that there is trust and commitment between parties. Unfortunately, this seems to be lacking in Kannada film industry. Producers seem to be unhappy with the kind of power that the financiers wield and the demand of distributors. On the other hand, distributors and exhibitors seem to be in a tussle. The producers, distributors and exhibitors blame the consumer for lacking in “Kannada Pride” and not patronizing Kannada movies and the audience blames the poor quality of movies. By and large, none of the entities are content with the way things are and this probably acts as a deterrent to creativity, innovation and experimentation that is badly required in the industry at present times.

13. Unattractiveness of the Industry

An industry becomes attractive investors when all the conditions are conducive

57 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns for them. An investor would not want the industry to be such that anyone can enter and leave it as and when they wish. This increases competition and reduces seriousness. An investor also would like to be in an industry where consumers do not have much choice so that he is assured of his business. He would also like to be comfortable on the supply side with enough power on the supplier. If we look at the movie industry, it is the producer who invests money and takes the risk. Hence when we analyze the Kannada movie industry with the producer as the focal point, the picture that emerges is as follows -

a) Low Entry Barriers

On an average it costs about Rs. 4- 5 crores to make a Kannada movie.

This is much less as compared to making movies in Hindi, Tamil or

Telugu. The movie industry is glamorous for outsiders and it may attract

people who have enough money to test waters here. Obviously Kannada

movies are less risky than making movies in other languages. The

financing of movie has never been as organized as other industries and

hence money can dubious sources can also flow into this industry easily.

Probably this is the reason for an increase in the number of movies made

in Kannada in spite of a majority of them not doing well.

b) Bargaining Power of Buyer

The primary buyers of the movies are distributors and they seem to enjoy

a lot of bargaining power with lots of choices around. The recent Telugu

blockbuster Bahubali was sold at Rs.18 crores for distribution in

Karnataka in three languages. With such attractive alternatives available

58 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns

to them, distributors are in a powerful position in the industry. The

exhibitors make the other set of buyers. Kannada movies find it hard to

make it to multiplexes and good theatres which shows that the producers

and distributors have hardly any power on them. The third set of buyers

are the audience at the final consumption point. Though they do not

directly transact with the producers, the sheer amount of choice they

have, puts the producers in a defensive position.

c) Bargaining Power of Suppliers

Suppliers to the industry are artistes, technical crew, financiers, and the

infrastructure providers such as studios. Among these, producers do not

seem to have power with two of the most important entities – stars and

financiers. They also do not have bargaining power with studios if the

movie is shot outside Karnataka. Hence the bargaining power of the

suppliers can be deemed high.

d) Threat of Substitutes

Audience today have lot of alternatives when it comes to seeking short

duration entertainment. First of all movie watching can be substituted by

Television viewing which gives a plethora of attractive options in various

categories other than movies – sports, serials, news, lifestyle, music,

adventure etc. Secondly, movie watching in theatre can be substituted by

watching entertaining content on You Tube through internet. Shopping at

malls or watching IPL in stadium can also substitute movies. Hence the

threat of substitutes is also high.

59 Part 3: Kannada Cinema – Issues and Concerns

e) Threat of Intense Segment Rivalry

If we consider the segment that watches Kannada movies, the same

segment is potential audience for Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam and Tamil

movies. About 700 movies from these languages collectively compete

with 125 Kannada movies for the share of wallet of audience. Hence

within the segment there is intense rivalry.

60 Part 4: Consumer Study


Movie making is a creative process and they are made with great passion by the people involved. The directors and the artistes may be convinced about the movie ; the critics may praise it skies but it is ultimately the consumer (viewer) who decides the fate of the movies. They decide its fate in 3 days time and nothing can super cede their judgment. Exactly 40 years ago, critics panned a movie by calling it “dead ember” and the audience made that movie, called

Sholay, the biggest blockbuster in the history of Indian cinema. Conversely movies that win truckloads of awards and critical acclaim do not even find a theatrical release. Whether one likes it or not, businesses must respect consumer judgment because the “customer is always right”.

It is very difficult to be on top of consumer choices and preferences because they change. With times, their values, attitudes, beliefs undergo tremendous changes.

This happens due to change in the socio – economic as well as technological environment. Needless to say, when it comes to cinema, the audience’s tastes and preferences keep changing. For example, today, the concepts such as live-in relationship and single parentage are acceptable while audience would have abhorred them 20 years ago.

Hence, as a part of this project a field study was conducted in the state of

Karnataka to understand the consumer behavior with regard to movie watching.

The major objectives of the study were –

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 To understand the movie watching habits of Kannada speaking people

 To understand the perceptions among Kannada speaking movie watchers on Kannada movies

 To gauge the preference of Kannada speaking movie watchers movies in terms of genres of movies

 To assess the non- Kannada movie watching habits of Kannada speaking movie watchers

The data required for the study was collected through a questionnaire (Annexure

– 1) designed specifically for this purpose. The data was captured across five locations in Karnataka namely, Bengaluru, Mysore, Hubballi, Kalburgi and

Mangalore. The questionnaires were administered at movie theatres in these locations. The data was collected from multiplexes as well single screens that were showing Kannada as well as non-Kannada movies. In total, 514 usable questionnaires were collected. The split across locations is shown below –

Location Number of Respondents Bengaluru 111 Mysore 111 Mangalore 91 Hubballi 100 Kalburgi 101

The data so collected, was tabulated for analysis. Two analysis were carried out as follows –

1. The first study was done on people who could comfortably converse in Kannada. There were 341 of them.

2. The second study was on comparing multiplex and single screen viewers. There were 201 from multiplex and 313 from single screens.

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In addition to the above, another study was carried out with a different set of respondents who were post-graduate students. This study was to compare the preference for mother tongue in life style habits such as movies, music and reading among south Indian language speakers.

The following section presents analysis of the data which is mainly in terms of descriptive statistics.


Out of the total 514 respondents, 370 indicated Kannada as their mother tongue.

However, only 303 of them were conversant with Kannada language. On the other hand, among the people who were not Kannadigas 38 people were conversant with Kannada language. Hence the total number of people who were conversant with Kannada language were 341. This analysis pertains to these respondents who were by and large, a multiplex going crowd. Out of the 341 respondents, about 153 (45%) people said they watched movies mainly in multiplexes. Out of the remaining, 109 (32%) were single screen watchers. As many as 79 (23%) people watched movies in both multiplexes and single screens. It can be seen that close 70% of the movie watchers had multiplex experience and the trend seems to be growing.

Out of the 341 respondents, 242 (71%) were men and the remaining 99 (29%) were women. About 60% of them were graduates and 18% had post graduate degrees. The age wise distribution is as given below

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Age No. % 16 – 25 year 145 42%

25 – 40 years 135 40% 40 – 60 years 54 16% Above 60 years 7 2% Total 341 100

It can be seen that 82% are below the age of 40 and 42% are below the age of 25 years. It is important to capture the movie going tastes and preferences of this group as it represents the population of India of which 60% is within the age group of 35 years. Secondly movies re are mainly patronized by younger generations and hence it is important to know them.

When it came to Income, 54% had an income less than Rs. 15000 per month.

This is understandable because the respondent set had a large number of persons who were below the age of 20 years. This crowd is not likely to be earning and probably depends on pocket money for their expenditure

The table below shows liking for movies among them and it can be seen that there are significant number of movie buffs. A high 93% like watching movies and within that, 40% people really like watching movies. About 70% of the respondents watched at least 1 movie per month and about 15% watched 2 to 3 movies every month. If we take Karnataka population as 6 crores and consider about 3 crore people to be under the age of 40, then at least 45 lakh people watch

2-3 movies every week. This works out to about 1 crore movie watchers per week and 52 crore per year. At a ticket price of Rs. 50 the revenue they generate is about Rs. 2600 crores. Going by the Kannada movie industry revenue of Rs.

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350 crores, it can be said that the market share of Kannada movies is less than


Liking for movies No. % Really like watching movies 137 40% Like watching movies 180 53% Neither like nor dislike watching movies 21 6% Dislike watching movies 1 0% Really dislike watching movies 2 1% Total 341 100%

Frequency No. % Once a year or less 28 8% Several times a year 77 23% Once a month 80 23% 2 to 3 times a month 90 26% Once a week 50 15% 2 to 3 times a week 16 5% Total 341 100%

People like to watch movies in company. About 65% of the respondents said that they watch movies with friends. Given the lower average age of the respondents, it is only natural that they watch movies with their friends. About 43% said they watch movies with family members. As indicated earlier, movie watching is no longer a functional process of content absorption but an overall experience which people want to consume with their family and friends. Not many people watched movies with their colleagues (only 2%) and about 11% of the people were not very particular about the company. The sample also consisted of 11% people who watched movies alone. The main reason for watching the movies is for entertainment value (55% respondents) and Music Dance and Story (44%).

Reviews do not seem to matter much and start cast seems to be a stronger pull

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than the name of the director. The table below gives the break up for the movie watching criteria.

Criteria for Watching No. % Entertainment Value 189 55% Popularity based on reviews 98 29% Starcast 133 39% Music Dance and Story 149 44% Director of Movie 97 28% Time Pass 37 11%

The most popular genre of movies seem to be action and comedy as indicated in the table below. However, comedy tops the preference list with more than 89% preference. It would be therefore, interesting to study the within the comedy genre, the preference for in the category of spoofs, satires, dark etc.

Action movies are liked by about 70% of the respondents and this can be explained by the fact that most respondents are young in age and youngsters’ preference for action is well known. While the preference for romance and family dramas is more or less the same, horror, mythology and crime thrillers do not seem to be having much takers.

Neither Really Really Movie Genre Dislike like or Like Dislike Like dislike Action 5% 10% 11% 47% 23% Comedy 1% 1% 5% 41% 48% Crime 13% 29% 16% 22% 12% Family Drama 4% 11% 15% 40% 22% Horror 17% 17% 9% 30% 17% Romance 6% 12% 12% 42% 22% Historical 9% 15% 16% 34% 19% Mythological 12% 20% 17% 28% 15% Suspence 2% 4% 5% 29% 15% Science Fict 9% 12% 10% 40% 21%

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The entire sample of 341 respondents was made up of persons conversant with

Kannada language and 303 out of this had Kannada as their mother tongue.

While it is heartening to learn that a majority of them frequently watched

Kannada movies (87%), it is may be noted that 61% frequently watched Hindi movies, 44% watched English movies, 42 % watched Telugu and 27% frequently watched Tamil movies. This clearly shows that the main competition to Kannada movies is from these languages which are fighting for the share of Kannada movie goers’ wallet. The table below gives the split of movie watching habits across languages.

Never Rarely Frequently Always Language Watch Watch Watch Watch English 23% 33% 32% 12% Hindi 13% 23% 43% 21% Tamil 45% 28% 20% 7% Telugu 34% 25% 30% 12% Kannada 2% 11% 44% 43% Malayalam 82% 16% 1% 1% Tulu 94% 3% 2% 1% Marathi 90% 6% 2% 1%

The respondents were then asked to rank the movies by their preference for languages and Kannada scored as the first preference with 55% of the respondents giving it the first rank. Hindi came next with 33% preferences. The next in the list were English, Telugu and Tamil in that order. As it can be seen from the table below, many people did not rank some languages at all.

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Rank Given Language 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 NIL Kannada 55% 17% 18% 5% 1% 0% 0% 0% 0% 5% English 13% 23% 23% 10% 8% 1% 1% 0% 0% 21% Hindi 18% 33% 20% 10% 5% 0% 0% 0% 1% 14% Telugu 6% 13% 14% 27% 6% 1% 0% 1% 0% 31% Tamil 5% 7% 7% 10% 31% 4% 1% 0% 0% 35% Marathi 0% 1% 1% 2% 2% 25% 5% 0% 0% 64% Malayalam 1% 1% 2% 2% 5% 28% 0% 0% 0% 62% Others 0% 1% 0% 2% 0% 0% 0% 21% 0% 75%

1970s is considered as the golden period for Kannada cinema and this belief seems to exist among the current generation as well. When asked about what do they think of Kannada movies across the decades, they have responded very positively towards movies made in 1970s and 1980s. As it can be seen, more than 60% believe that movies of 70s and 80s were very good. But the perception about current set of movies made in 2000s and 2010s is rather dis-appointing.

Just about 12% feel that the current movies are good. On the other hand, while only 1% believes that movies of yester years were bad, about 30% feel that present movies are bad to very bad.

Very Very Decade Good Average Bad Good Bad 1970s 66% 25% 8% 1% 0% 1980s 63% 31% 6% 1% 0% 1990s 37% 45% 17% 1% 0% 2000s 12% 36% 42% 9% 1% 2010s 11% 22% 37% 22% 8%

It would be interesting to learn whether their response is based on actual experience or they perceive it this way. We have no data on whether this generation has watched the movies of 70s and 80s (On TV , You tube etc) and feel they are better in comparison to the current crop of movies. It is also possible

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that they have been told that movies were better in 70s and 80s and hence they believe so. Anyway this generation seems to have clearly identified certain problems with Kannada movies as shown in the table below.

Problem with Kannada movies No. % No good story 232 68% No quality music 87 26% No good actors 82 24% No beautiful locations and settings 38 11% Poor starcast 69 20% Expensive ticket prices at multiplexes 83 24% Not released frequently at multiplexes 121 35% Very less marketing activities before release 71 21% No Originality 175 51% Far from Kannada culture 90 26% Not as impressive as other language movies 61 18% Not lavish and posh 58 17%

An overwhelming majority felt that Kannada movies lack good story (68%) and originality (51%). This could be on account of a large number of remake movies being made in Kannada. A significant number of people have expressed concern over Kannada movies not being screened much in multiplexes and also the high ticket prices at multiplexes. About 26% have said that Kannada movies are not reflecting Kannada culture, which again is linked to borrowing ideas from other languages and the culture of remake in Kannada cinema. Beautiful locations, settings and lavishness does not seem to be a major concern for them.

Hence, they expect Kannada movies to be primarily have originality (49%) and avoid remakes. As shown in the table below, originality tops the list of their expectations and they have ranked remaking of movies into Kannada very low.

Other than originality, they expect good star cast and music.

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Rank Given Aspect 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Starcast 16% 29% 21% 8% 10% 5% 3% 4% 2% 3% Music etc 19% 23% 18% 15% 7% 5% 5% 1% 3% 4% Originality 49% 18% 13% 8% 3% 2% 2% 1% 1% 2% Price 3% 6% 5% 13% 12% 9% 12% 17% 14% 8% Multiplex 2% 8% 11% 17% 14% 11% 10% 10% 13% 4% Remakes 1% 4% 7% 7% 4% 10% 8% 12% 13% 35% Marketing 4% 9% 10% 11% 15% 14% 10% 9% 12% 6% Culture 11% 15% 11% 11% 15% 11% 11% 9% 4% 2% Novels 7% 7% 15% 9% 9% 10% 14% 10% 13% 7% Rich Production 9% 13% 11% 14% 13% 10% 9% 7% 6% 10%

Finally the respondents were asked what role should the Government play to ensure better viewership of Kannada movies. An overwhelming 73% have said that Government should provide more facilities to the industry to make quality movies. A significant number (43%) feel that government should do something about ticket prices in multiplexes and ensure more screening of Kannada movies in multiplexes.

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The survey was conducted to elicit views from respondents regarding movie watching habits from various cities in Karnataka viz. Bengaluru, Mangaluru,

Mysuru, Hubballi, and Kalburgi. We had 514 respondents taking the survey and responses were elicited by way of administering a structured questionnaire through personal interview method. The questionnaires were administered to respondents in single screens as well as multiplexes and this analysis pertains to the same.

Out of the total 514 respondents, 354 (69%) were men and the remaining 160

(31%) were women. About 313 (60%) consisting of both men and women were interviewed in single screens while the remaining 201 (40%) were interviewed in multiplexes. About 64% of them were graduates and 15% had post graduate degrees. The age wise distribution is given below

Age No. % 16-25 years 221 43% 25-40 years 208 40% 40-60 years 76 15% Above 60 years 9 2% Total 541 100

It can be seen that 83% are below the age of 40 years and 43% are below the age of 25 years. It well represents the population of India of which 60% is within the age group of 35 years and hence makes great sense to capture the movie going

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tastes and preferences of this group. Secondly it is our general observation that movies are mainly patronized by younger generations and hence important to know them.

In terms of the parameter of ‘income’, 49% of the respondents had an income less than Rs.15000 per month. This is understandable as the respondent set had a large number of people below the age of 20 years. This group is unlikely to be earning and probably depends mainly on money received from their family members for expenditure.

The table below shows details of mother tongue of all the respondents who were interviewed for the study and it can be seen that there are a significant number of respondents (370 nos, 72%) with Kannada as their mother tongue and 64% of them are well conversant with Kannada language.

Language Mother Tongue (Nos/%) Most Conversant (Nos/%) Gujarati 1 (0%) 0 (0%) Hindi 13 (3%) 35 (7%) Kannada 370 (72%) 329 (64%) Konkani 30 (6%) 13 (3%) Malayalam 6 (1%) 4 (1%) Marathi 12 (2%) 3 (1%) Tamil 23 (4%) 13 (3%) Telugu 24 (5%) 12 (2%) Tulu 23 (4%) 23 (4%) Urdu 7 (1%) 1 (0%) English 2 (0%) 40 (8%) Others 3 (1%) 19 (4%) Multiple - 22 (4%) Total 514 514

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It is expected that this group of respondents who have Kannada as their mother tongue as well as conversant with the language offer enough insights on various aspects pertaining to Kannada films. It is also expected that the other respondents who have mother tongue other than Kannada give in views related to their movie watching habits and preferences.

On the aspect of the language of the movie watched, Kannada language tops the list with 75% of respondents watching Kannada movies frequently and always in single screens and 70% in multiplexes. This is followed by Hindi and English language movies. It is interesting to note here that more or less an equal proportion of respondents have been watching Kannada movies both in single screens and in multiplexes too. In other words, watching Kannada movies is no more confined to single screens and people do prefer to enjoy it in multiplexes too. It is also evident that around 90% of the respondents opined that they love watching movies irrespective of the location.

Frequency of movie No. % watching Once a year or less 56 11% Several times a year 119 23% Once a month 118 23% 2-3 times a month 129 25% Once a week 67 13% 2-3 times a week 25 5% Total 514 100

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129 respondents (25%) watch movies two to three times in a month, be it in a multiplex or in single screens, while 118 respondents (23%) watch movies at least once a month in either formats. 92 respondents (18%) are movie buffs with their frequency of watching movies as high as 2-3 times a week or at least once a week. Only 56 respondents (11%) said that they watch movies rarely to the extent of once a year or less. 232 respondents (45%) have been watching movies predominantly in multiplexes, 171 respondents (33%) have been watching movies in single screens, while 108 respondents (21%) have been watching movies in both locations. There is a growing preference for watching movies in multiplexes from the available options based on the data collected.

The most popular genre of movies seem to be action and comedy, both amongst respondents who watch movies in single screens and multiplexes as indicated in the table below. However, comedy tops the preference list with 90% preference amongst respondents watching movies in single screens and 88% amongst respondents from multiplexes. It would be better to investigate further, the preferences within the comedy genre in the category of spoofs, satires, dark etc.

Action movies are liked by about 66% of the respondents watching movies in single screens and 78% of respondents from Multiplexes and this can be explained by the fact that most respondents are young in age and youngsters’ preference for action is well known. Historical, Mythological and crime thrillers do not have much takers.

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Like (%) Single Movie Genre Multiplex Screen Respondents Respondents Action 66 78 Comedy 90 88 Crime 36 53 Family Drama 63 52 Horror 48 27 Romance 62 29 Historical 26 32 Mythological 27 25 Suspense 58 58 Science Fiction 28 35

Respondents were asked to rank movies by their preference for languages and

Kannada scored as the first preference both amongst respondents from single screens (50%) as well as from multiplexes (45%) by giving it first rank. Hindi came next amongst respondents from single screens with 23% preferences, while English was ranked two by respondents from multiplexes (27%). The next in list was English ranked three by respondents from single screen and Hindi ranked three by respondents from multiplexes.

People like to watch movies in company. About 60% of the respondents interviewed in single screens said that they watch movies with friends, while it was 72% for respondents from multiplexes. Lower average age of the respondents can be one reason for watching movies with their friends. About

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43% of respondents from single screens said they watch movies with family members, while it was 38% for respondents from multiplexes. Movie watching is seen as an overall experience, which people want to have with their family and friends. Not many people watched movies with their colleagues (only 4% for respondents from single screens and only 1% for respondents from multiplexes) and about 10% of respondents from both single screens and multiplexes were not very particular about the company aspects. The sample also consisted of 9% of respondents from single screens and 14% of respondents from multiplexes who watched movies alone.

The main reason for watching the movies is for entertainment value (54% respondents from both single screens and multiplexes) and Music Dance and

Story (47%). Reviews do not seem to matter much and start cast seems to be a stronger pull than the name of the director. The table below gives the break up for the movie watching criteria that includes preferences of respondents, both from single screens and multiplexes.

Criteria for Watching No. % Entertainment Value 278 54% Popularity based on reviews 160 31% Starcast 200 39% Music Dance and Story 243 47% Director of Movie 126 25% Time Pass 73 14%

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1970s is considered as the golden period for Kannada cinema and this belief seems to exist among the current generation as well. When asked about what they think of Kannada movies across the decades, they have responded very positively towards movies made in 1970s and 1980s. As it can be seen, more than 70% of respondents from both single screens and multiplexes believe that movies of 70s and 80s were very good. But the perception about current set of movies made in 2010s is rather dis-appointing. Just about 12% feel that the current movies are good. On the other hand, while only 2% believe that movies of yester years were bad, about 25-30% feel that present movies are bad to very bad.

Very good & Good category Bad & Very Bad category Single Single Decade Multiplex Multiplex Screen Screen Respondents Respondents Respondents Respondents 1970s 71% 66% 0% 1% 1980s 74% 75% 0% 1% 1990s 66% 66% 2% 2% 2000s 43% 42% 13% 6% 2010s 28% 30% 31% 22%

It would be interesting to find out whether the above response is based on actual experience or their perception based on various sources. We have no data on whether this generation has watched the movies of 70s and 80s (On TV, You tube etc.) and feel they are better in comparison to the current crop of movies. It is also possible that they have been told that movies were better in 70s and 80s

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and hence they believe so. Nevertheless this generation has gone further and clearly identified certain problems associated with Kannada movies as shown in the table below.

Single Screen Multiplex Problem with Kannada Respondents Respondents movies No. % No. % No good story 202 65% 138 69% No quality music 90 29% 51 25% No good actors 88 28% 57 28% No beautiful locations and 22 settings 43 14% 11% Poor Star Cast 72 23% 50 25% Expensive ticket prices at 37 multiplexes 68 22% 18% Not released frequently at 74 multiplexes 102 33% 37% Very less marketing 48 activities before release 75 24% 24% No Originality 151 48% 121 60% Far from Kannada culture 87 28% 48 24% Not as impressive as other 41 language movies 65 21% 20% Not lavish and posh 57 18% 55 27%

An overwhelming majority of respondents from both single screens (65%) and multiplexes (69%) felt that Kannada movies lack good story and originality (48% for respondents from single screens and 60% for respondents from multiplexes).

This could be on account of a large number of remake movies being made in

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Kannada. A significant number of people have expressed concern over Kannada movies not being screened much in multiplexes and also the high ticket prices at multiplexes. More than 25% of respondents from both single screens and multiplexes have said that Kannada movies do not reflect Kannada culture which again is linked to borrowing ideas from other languages and the culture of remake in Kannada cinema. Beautiful locations, settings and lavishness does not seem to be a major concern for them.

Respondents expect Kannada movies to primarily have originality (38% from respondents from single screens and 43% of respondents from multiplexes) and avoid remakes. Originality tops the list of their expectations with remake of movies into Kannada ranked the lowest. Other than originality, good star cast and music score high on ranking by respondents across single screens and multiplexes.

Finally the respondents were asked what role the Government should play to ensure better viewership of Kannada movies. An overwhelming 78% of respondents from multiplexes and 68% of respondents from single screens have opined that the Government should provide more facilities to the industry to make quality movies. More than 30% of respondents both from single screens and multiplexes feel that the Government should act on pricing of tickets in multiplexes and ensure more screening of Kannada movies in multiplexes.

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It is often said that Kannada speaking people are not very proud of their mother tongue as compared to , Tamil and . In this regard, an exploratory study was undertaken among youngsters to understand how much attached are they to their mother tongues in their life styles.

For this study the sample chosen was post-graduate students as our previous study had shown that younger generation is the major target segment for movies. Students were chosen from a reputed b-school in Manipal, Karnataka.

The Institute attracts students from all over India, with students belonging to more than 25 states studying there.

A questionnaire was prepared to assess their life style habits and this questionnaire was administered through internet on google docs. (See Annexure

– 2 for the questionnaire). A total of 552 students took the survey out of which

410 (74%) were male students and the remaining 142 (26%) were female students. About 440 (80%) of them were below the age of 25 years. Most of them came from well to do families as 39% had a monthly family income of Rs. 50000

– Rs. 1 lakh and 32% had incomes above Rs. 1 lakh per month.

Coming to their hobbies, 98.2 % listened to music and 98.6 watched movies in theatres. About 87% watched television but among this, a large portion (above

50%) watched TV for less than 30 minutes in a day. About 43% watched TV for

30 minutes to 2 hours every day. Coming to movies, 363 (65%) watched movies

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at least once in a month. About 26% watched movies 2-3 times in a month and

7% watched movies every week.

The students spoke different languages. Many were not conversant with their mother tongues but spoke other languages well. Only 3 persons claimed English to be their mother tongues but an overwhelming 80% claimed they were conversant with this language. Hindi was the mother tongue for a large number of people, 184 out of 552 to be precise, which makes it 33%. Other languages indicated as mother tongue were, Bengali, Marathi, Oriya, Guajarati, Kannada,

Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Konkani and Coorgi.

The table below gives the data for the four South Indian languages plus Hindi and


Movies Music Reading Mother Comfort in Most of Most of Most of Language Some Tongue conversing the Always the Always times times times English 3 440 391 146 161 168 502 47 Hindi 184 393 364 138 300 169 27 30 Kannada 40 50 13 15 14 10 7 3 Tamil 29 49 39 46 43 26 4 3 Malayalam 62 46 41 26 21 26 7 13 Telugu 49 53 46 22 27 30 6 10

It can be seen that most of the people are conversant in English and Hindi. The comfort with English is mainly due to the fact that almost all the respondents had

English as the medium of instruction in their college. The number of people who are familiar with Hindi is more than the number of people who have Hindi as their mother tongue. This is on account of Hindi being a national language and

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people from many states in India are familiar with Hindi even though it is not the language widely spoken in the state.

Among the 552 respondents in this study, close to 10% each were conversant with south Indian languages – Tamil (49 people), Telugu (53 people), Kannada

(50 people) and Malayalam (46 people). From the table above it can be inferred that the mother tongue connect in life style is low in Kannada in comparison to the other three south Indian languages. Though the number of respondents in each category is not so as to make the results statistically significant, they do indicate some trend.

Kannada people or the people who are familiar with Kannada language do not seem to consider Kannada when it comes to lifestyle habits such as watching movies, listening to music or reading. The following tables individually look at these habits among people, who are familiar with south Indian languages and it can be seen that but, for reading Kannada, people lag behind mother tongue connection in movies and music.

Mother Comfort in Watching Movies Language Tongue conversing Most of the Times Sometimes No. % No. % Kannada 40 50 13 26% 15 30% Tamil 29 49 39 80% 46 94% Malayalam 62 46 41 89% 26 57% Telugu 49 53 46 87% 22 42%

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Mother Comfort in Listening to Music Language Tongue conversing Always Most of the Times No. % No. % Kannada 40 50 14 28% 10 20% Tamil 29 49 43 88% 26 53% Malayalam 62 46 21 46% 26 57% Telugu 49 53 27 51% 30 57%

Mother Comfort in Reading Language Tongue conversing Always Most of the Times No. % No. % Kannada 40 50 7 14% 3 6% Tamil 29 49 4 8% 3 6% Malayalam 62 46 7 15% 13 28% Telugu 49 53 6 11% 10 19%

While watching movies most of the times in respective languages of familiarity for Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam was more than 80% , it was disappointingly low for Kannada at 26%. Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam people who did not watch movies in their respective languages most of the times, but watched sometimes was also high as compared to Kannada which stood at 30% as compared Tamil and Malayalam which was more than 50%.

The numbers also indicate that Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam movies are watched by people who are not even comfortable with that language. For example while only 49 people were conversant with Tamil, as many as 87 people had the habit of watching Tamil movies.

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Major Findings of the Study

Following are the major findings from the study presented in points

1. Movies seem to attract younger crowd than the aged group. About 43% of

the movie watchers fall in the age group of 16 – 25 years. And another

40% is between the age of 25 – 40 years.

2. More and more people are shifting to multiplexes for watching movies.

3. A majority of the movie watching population of Karnataka seems to like

watching movies and there is no difference about this between single

screen viewers and multiplex viewers. About 90% of the viewers liked or

really liked watching movies.

4. Two thirds of movie watchers watch movies at least once in a month. This

shows that movie watching is a regular activity in their life style.

5. Among the genres, action and comedy are most preferred by the audience

followed by family drama and suspense. Single screen audience prefers

romance much more than multiplex going crowd. Kannada audience also

like science fiction.

6. Whether it is multiplex or single screen, people like watching movies in

company and the most preferred company is friends followed by family


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7. Kannada film watchers have a perception that the Kannada movies made

in 1970s and 80s were much better in quality than movies being made


8. The major problem with Kannada movies as per the audience is lack of

originality and lack of good story. This opinion, is shared alike by both

single screen and multiplex audience.

9. The Kannada cinema watchers are concerned about Kannada movies not

getting enough screen time in multiplexes.

10. Kannada cinema watchers wish that the Government provided more

facilities to the industry to produce quality films

11. Kannada speaking people watch less Kannada movies compared to Tamil,

Telugu and Malayalam people watching movies in their respective


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It is often said, “There is no business like show business”. It has glamour, money, excitement, creativity and what not. However, this business is also one of the most risky businesses. Each movie released is a brand new product and the rate of introduction of new products (a new movie) is very high in this industry as compared to other industries. When we consider each new movie as a new product, Indian cinema is the only industry that introduces more than 1000 new products in a year. These movies vie with each other for the attention of viewers who accept or reject the movies in one week’s time.

New products and services in other industries, once introduced, can be improved based on customer feedback. This is not possible in show business, as there is no recourse if the audience does not like a movie. While it has always been the case, the theatrical life cycle of a movie has become extremely short in the present times. Theoretically, any product or service takes time initially to be accepted by the market, after which, the market starts growing in terms of revenue. It then reaches the maturity stage where the revenues plateau and then it starts declining. During the introduction stage, only few innovators adopt the product

(about 3.5%) and then come the early adopters (about 16.5%). The remaining

80% of the business is supposed to come at a later stage by the groups known as early majority, late majority and laggards1. This entire process takes some time.

1 Everett Rogers “Diffusion of Innovation” , 1963

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For certain products, it could be as high as two to three decades, while for fashion products it could be just a matter of months.

However, in the business of movies, the fate of the movie is decided in a matter of one week. For example, 36 movies released from January to August 2015, collected Rs.1750 crores at the box office and out of this, Rs.1157 (66%) was collected in the first week of their release. For about 18 movies out of the 36, the first week collection was more than 85% of the total collection and for 6 movies the entire 100% collection happened in the first week and there was no business after that2 period. This demonstrates that movies have a very short time window to recover their costs and make profits at the theatres.

The elements that determine the success of movies has been a matter of interest to the industry and academia as well, Rocco et al3, based on their study, cite star artistes, famous directors, impact of critics, financing strategies as predictors of success. In the same study, it was found that distribution strategies, newspaper rankings, state support, cast and the director had significant association with higher box office revenues. In another study4 that investigates box office slump in the United States in 2005, the reasons for the slump are stated as ticket prices, rise of home market (DVD), video on demand, theatre ambience, timing of release and uninspiring movies.

2 from the website, indicine.com accessed on 23rd August 2015

3 “Distribution strategy and movie performance : An empirical note” by Rocco Ciciretti, Iftekhar Hassan and Maya Waisman, Eurasian Economic Review, 5, 2015, pp 179-187

4 “The movie industry: Managing the box office slump” by Dr. N Delener, Proceedings of the North- East Business & Economic Association, October 2007

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While these are applicable to all movies in general, Kannada cinema today is more threatened by the factors mentioned above, as seen in the previous section, the issues plaguing the industry go beyond what is stated above. There is an immediate need for proactive action to ensure the survival and growth of

Kannada movies. The problems affecting Kannada movies are two dimensional.

There are issues on quality, marketing of movies, customer perception etc which are related to the industry and the industry needs to work on these. However, any action taken towards this will have impact on the long term. Unfortunately,

Kannada movies do not have a long time horizon to recover and grow given the rate at which non-Kannada movies are penetrating Karnataka market. Hence,

Kannada movies desperately need quick short-term measures to avert this threat and this is where the Government can act as an enabler. The following section discusses the role of industry and the Government towards strengthening the Kannada cinema.

The fundamental question is what role the Government should play in the promotion of movies given that there are other priorities and pressing needs for the state. There seems to be a strong case for the Government to play an active role in the promotion of the movies. First of all, research studies have shown that state support can boost the movie industry. Secondly, movies are linked to the art and culture of the land. Movies are one arena where a variety of creative people such as actors, singers, dancers, writers and directors converge, and showcase their talents. It is also an industry that supports thousands of families of technicians and other staff who depend on movies for their livelihood. Thirdly, on the long run, if nurtured well, movies are a tremendous source of revenue for

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the Government in the form of taxes. This aspect is important as this is perhaps the most ethical source of taxes as compared to other mass consumed items such as alcohol and tobacco. Fourthly, movies are an economical source of entertainment for the poor and it is important that they are not deprived of it.

Lastly, the current study has shown that people expect the Government to create an ideal climate for movie making by providing adequate support.

The Government of Karnataka has indeed been very supportive of the Kannada movie industry. It was the first one to start the practice of providing subsidy to

Kannada movies to the tune of Rs. 50000 per movie in 1966. At present, the subsidy amount is Rs. 10 lakhs per movie and it is available to 100 Kannada and other language movies such as Tulu, Konkani, Kodava, Beary and Banjara. Out of the 100 subsidies available, 92 movies are paid Rs. 10 lakhs each and Rs. 25 lakhs each is earmarked for 4 children movies and 4 movies on Kannada tourism, heritage and national integration. Five movies, based on novels, each get Rs.5 lakhs additional subsidy. Remake movies do not get the 100 tax-free benefit that the original Kannada movies get. To avail this, the re-recording, recording, dubbing and 50% shooting has to be done in Karnataka. If a movie gets selected for exhibition in an International festival, it gets Rs.19.75 lakh.

There is also no sales tax on Kannada movies while non-Kannada movies pay a tax of 30%5. This tax holiday is aimed primarily at promoting Kannada movie viewership amidst competition from other language movies.

5 This is a normal practice in most of the states. Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan have 0% tax on movies made in the respective languages.

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In addition to this, the Government has never intervened in the practices adopted by the movie industry such as – no dubbing and no release of other language movies for 7 weeks in Karnataka6 even though they have no legal sanctity and are against the norms set by CCI7, the Karnataka Government has stood by the industry.

However, there is a need for the Government to act in certain areas that are threatening the very existence of Kannada movies. Following are the recommended actions that the Government may wish to take.

1. Eliminating Bureaucratic Hurdles

a) One of the major problems that the movie makers in Karnataka face is the

hurdles that they need to go through toward securing permissions to

shoot outdoors. Some producers have expressed anguish over the fact

that they need to take permissions from multiple departments to shoot

movies in locations. The Government stand on permitting outdoor

shooting should be less bureaucratic because out-door locations shown in

movies promotes tourism.

b) The Government gives Rs.10 lakhs subsidy per movie for Kannada

movies. There is a committee set up by the Government to look into the

quality of movies and certify them for subsidy. Apparently this process

6 This practice existed earlier. Non – Kannada movies were allowed to release in Karnataka only 7 weeks after their home release.

7 Competition Commission of India

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takes a long time and the producers have to wait inordinately for subsidy.

Some producers have even questioned the sanctity of this committee. The

Government must take steps to smoothen out the process.

c) The Government of Karnataka recognizes good work in cinema and gives

annual awards in various categories. A committee, headed by a panel of

Judges, decides the awards. The jury usually consists of eminent

personalities from the film field. The awards intend to promote films with

artistic values and encourage artists, technicians and producers. The

awards are declared by the Minister for Cultural Affairs and are presented

by the Chief Minister. The awards have a cash component. Though the

amount may be modest, the awards are sought after and cherished as

they stand testimony to the good work done by the artistes and

technicians. However, the entire process is always fraught with

controversies. There are complaints about selection of the jury members

as well as the winners. Recently, some awards have been withdrawn,

which has happened for the first time in the history of Kannada cinema.

The net result is that the credibility of the awards is lost and this has hurt

the image of the industry as well as the Government. Given this, it is

recommended that the Government dissociate itself from the process of

selection of the jury. The process can be given to agencies that are

associated with movies on a continuous basis and are perceived as

credible and fair.

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2. Generating Additional Revenue through Surcharge

At present the Government levies a Re.1 per ticket surcharge on non-Kannada movies in Karnataka and it is not known whether or not this amount is spent towards development of cinema in Karnataka. Even if it is made available for such purposes, the amount is too small to make any significant impact. The neighboring state of Kerala charges Rs. 3 per ticket and this amount is spent specifically on development of movies and funding activities related to cinema. A well-known Kannada producer points to more than dozen theatres built in

Kerala using this money. Karnataka can also think of levying a higher surcharge per ticket, even to the tune of Rs. 5 – Rs. 7 with a clear mandate of spending this money exclusively on Kannada cinema. Following are the ways in which the money can be put to use.

a) Increase subsidy: Kannada movies get a subsidy of Rs.10 lakhs per

movie. This amount, though significant, is not motivating enough, given

that the cost of movie making has gone up manifolds. An increase in

subsidy will definitely reduce the risk perception among makers and

many new moviemakers with fresh ideas will enter the fray. Secondly,

many award-winning movies do not get theatrical release and depend on

subsidies. Hence they are constrained by the subsidy amount even at the

budgeting stage of the movie. This makes them to compromise on several

aspects. The neighboring state of Maharashtra gives Rs.40 lakhs per

movie and gives up to Rs. 2 crore for movies produced in

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the state. Karnataka should also act along these lines and think at least of

fixing the subsidy as a percentage of the average cost of movie making.

b) Additional Funding for Film Festivals: The International Film Festival

hosted in Karnataka is grossly underfunded with a budget allocation of

Rs. 2 Crores while the neighboring states of Kerala and Goa provide

anywhere between Rs. 7.5 to Rs. 10 crores. The film festival in Karnataka

therefore, is not able to make an impact due to lack of adequate resources.

The money raised through surcharge can also be utilized for this.

c) Additional Incentive for Movies based on Novels: At present, five

movies based on novels each get Rs.5 lakhs additional subsidy. Keeping in

mind the consumer preference for good stories and the declining trend of

making novel based movies, the Government could think of raising this

amount so as to be a motivator for making movies based on Kannada

stories and novels

d) Revival of KFDC: The Karnataka Film Industries Development

Corporation Ltd (KFDC), which operated in the Kanteerava Studios

premises, has not been active since last 7-8 years. It was established with

an objective of development of movie industry in Karnataka and did

finance some movies earlier. It is recommended here that KFDC should be

revived with the goal of planning, promoting and organizing an integrated

and efficient development of Kannada film industry and nurture

excellence in Kannada cinema. The funds required for this can come from

the proposed surcharge. KFDC can finance movies that are good in

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concept but are finding it difficult to raise money through traditional


e) Finance Exhibition of Kannada movies outside Karnataka: While

there is a significant market for non-Kannada movies in Karnataka,

Kannada movies hardly have any takers outside Karnataka. There is a

significant Kannada population outside Karnataka especially in places

such as Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Chennai and Dubai. It has become rather

difficult for Kannada moviemakers to find theatres outside Karnataka due

to high theatre rentals. If the Government can take a share of this financial

burden, then it would be possible for Kannada movies to reach out. This

facility can be made available only to original Kannada movies and not


3. Building Small Theatres

Karnataka is facing shortage of theatres and in this regard the Government proposes help in building 300 small theatres at a cost of Rs.25 lakhs each. This is a initiative. If all goes well, about 500 Janatha cinema halls will be constructed for the screening of Kannada films. One needs Rs25 lakh (excluding the cost of land) to construct a 300-seat theatre at a taluk or district headquarter.

The movie industry proposes that the Government provide Rs15 lakh as a loan and Rs10 lakh as subsidy and to collect rent for the land allotted for the construction of a cinema theatre8. However, it must be ensured that these theatres exhibit Kannada movies only. In addition, the Government should also

8 “Sandalwood looking forward to more theatres”, DNA, Feb 16, 2014

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allow existing theatres with large capacities to be converted to multiple theatres of smaller capacities.

4. Policy on Multiplexes

Karnataka definitely needs a policy on Multiplexes. The consumer study has shown that Kannada movie watching audience finds that Kannada movies are not screened enough in multiplexes or when screened, they are shown at non- prime times. The audience also feels that the admission rates at multiplexes are rather high. To the audience, the cost of watching movies in multiplexes includes not only ticket price but also the cost of snacks and drinks. While the multiplexes peg their prices based on their cost structure, it also important to ensure that they support the development of movies made locally. There are instances where State Governments have intervened to ensure local movies are screened by multiplexes. In Maharashtra, there is legislation that ensures screening of

Marathi movies at prime times in multiplexes. In Tamil Nadu, the rate admission for the first two rows in all multiplexes is pegged at Rs.20 per seat. The study has shown that Kannada audience likes to watch movies in multiplexes ( given the poor state of single screen theatres) and hence it is time for the Government to evolve a policy on multiplex screening norms for Kannada movies and admission rates.

5. Establishment of Film Institutions

It is an age-old concern being expressed by most of the movie makers that

Karnataka lacks basic movie making infrastructure. This concern appears more glaring when one looks at the movie making infrastructure development in the

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last two decades in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra. While Tamil Nadu has traditionally been a center for making movies in south, Andhra has now emerged as the favorite destination with Ramoji Rao film city. In Kerala, the Government has allotted 100 acres in Trivandrum for establishing film institutions. Karnataka also needs to establish a good film city to ensure local technicians from

Karnataka earn revenues from technical services. Moreover, it will bring down the cost of movie making significantly. It is recommended that the film city is established in Mysuru as it is much cheaper in terms of stay and travel. Moreover the time to commute in Mysuru is also less as compared to Bangaluru. Mysuru also has more than 50 beautiful locations near by. The only shortcoming is the lack of a functional airport. If the Government can develop the airport and encourage entrepreneurs through easy allotment of land, power and other infrastructure, Karnataka can also have a good film city.

In addition to this, Karnataka needs a good film training institute along the lines of FTII. If the Government can take a proactive initiative on this, there will be no dearth of entrepreneurs in this segment as well.

6. Establish Ministry for Cinematography

Karnataka makes about 125 films per year and is next only to Hindi, Tamil,

Telugu and Malayalam cinema in its size. The total annual investment is about

Rs. 500 – 600 crores and the revenue is Rs. 275 – Rs. 300 crores.9. Given its size and the quantum of financial risk involved, it is absolutely necessary that there are governance structures and processes dedicated to this industry. However, at

9 Movie industry is inherently risky. This phenomena of revenues being less than the cost is seen across all movie industries.

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present, movies come under the ambit of Information & Broadcasting ministry, which looks after several issues and hence is loaded with work. The neighboring states seem to have realized the importance of a focused approach towards movies and hence have a dedicated minister for movies. In Andhra Pradesh, it is the chief minister Shri Chandrababu Naidu, who holds this portfolio, while in

Telangana, Shri T S Yadav is Minister of Cinematography. In Kerala, Shri. T

Radhakrishnan is the Minister of Cinema. A ministry dedicated to cinema will be a platform dedicated for policy making on cinema, and an institution that moviemakers can approach with their problems. Karnataka should have a dedicated minister for Cinema.

7. Stopping Malpractices

The 100% tax free facility being given to Kannada movies is apparently being exploited by some exhibitors. Non-Kannada movies are being shown under the name of Kannada movies where viewers are charged the full amount but the tax is not paid to the Government. Allowing such practices to continue will hamper

Kannada movies as there is more incentive in exhibiting non-Kannada movies.

The Government must take cognizance of this issue and take corrective measures. Use of appropriate technology such as compulsory e-ticketing could eliminate such malpractices.

8. Building a Sustainable Investor Class

While Bollywood boasts of movie making houses such as Yashraj films, Red

Chillies and Eros, Andhra has Padmalaya movies and Tamil Nadu has GV Films

Sun TV Network. These are to name just a few. Many movie and TV companies have gone public and their shares are traded on the stock market. Moreover,

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these industries are attracting investors in the form of foreign studios. This gives tremendous credibility to the Industry and finding investors is not a major issue.

Kannada cinema does not have such powerhouse investors and hence the industry depends on high interest finances from private investors.

It is not that there is no promise in Kannada movies as successful Kannada movies can yield up to 300 – 400% profit. The main issue seems to be Kannada movies do not seem to be on top of their minds when it comes to profitable investment. It here that the Industry and Government need to make a difference to the potential investors. One way of attracting investors could be arranging meetings with industry minister, movie producers and investors. Investors can also be invited to set up labs, studios and film related institutions in the state with incentives.

9. Perception Management

There seems to be a general perception that Kannada movies are not good and everything is not all right with Kannada movies. The consumer study indicates that audience perceives the Kannada movies of 70s and 80s to be much better than the movies being made at present. This perception could be based not by watching and comparing today’s movies with that of yesteryears but by interpreting what they hear and see around them. We are well over a decade into the new millennium but the stories that float around still belong to 70s and 80s.

Be it newspapers, television or , when ever there is talk of national awards, originality, novel based movies and experimentation, Kannada cinema

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talks only about past glory. This gives an impression that there has been nothing good after 1980s.

Secondly, Kannada movies and stars are not known much outside Karnataka like

Tamil/Telugu movies and stars. Hence, there is some defensiveness about

Kannada movies and the learned people of Karnataka carry some inferiority complex when it comes to movies. This automatically creates negativity towards

Kannada movies.

Hence, there is a need to alter the perception about Kannada movies among

Kannada people so that they are more positive and confident about Kannada cinema. This can be done by a sustained communication campaign where every member of the industry takes responsibility. First of all, there should be more articles in media about good things about Kannada cinema. Many a times, the critics seem to be harsh on Kannada movies. It is unfair to review a Kannada movie with the standards of Bollywood movies as a benchmark. Industry should ensure the movies get fair review and the same should be used for marketing.

Another way of engaging with the younger audience much earlier is by sponsoring events in schools and colleges. Movie houses can promote their movies and Kannada cinema through sponsorships.

10. Niche Identification & Creation

In a very competitive market place, it is necessary for products and services to be distinctly different from competing products and this applies to movies as well.

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The need to be different than competition is much more for Kannada movies as compared to its counterparts from south as Kannada audience are exposed to other language movies more than the audience from neighboring states.

Therefore, the success of Kannada movies depends on how different they are from the movies made in other language. It is a fact that Kannada movies, because of the limited markets, cannot match Hindi, Telugu and Tamil movies in terms of their grandeur and scale. Hence, trying to be like them is a futile exercise and Kannada movies will ever be regarded as poor imitations of Hindi and other South Indian language movies. By continuously patterning Kannada movies along the lines of non-Kannada movies, the industry also contributes towards altering the local tastes and preferences. Tamil and Telugu movies are typically a shade louder as the target audience likes them that way. Presuming the same is preferred in Karnataka and subjecting the Kannada audience to it amounts to disrespecting the tastes of local populace.

In the 60s and 70s, Malayalam and Kannada movies were in a similar situation – they made the same number of movies and were not considered as important as

Tamil and Telugu movies. Malayam movie industry, by catering to local taste, has carved a niche and respect for itself in the entire Indian movie Industry. They have understood their audience, their intellect and their preferences and made movies accordingly. Once the industry was known as something that delivers novelty and quality, the audience began expecting something fresh all the time.

This put the industry in the driving seat and they could drive the customer behavior. Tamil, Hindi and English movies do get released in Kerala but

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Malayalam cinema is able to withstand any onslaught because they have created a space for themselves.

Kannada cinema, on the other hand, seems to have given up the position it had secured in the 70s and tried to be like Hindi, Tamil and Telugu movies. This has resulted in a situation where Kannada movies are not considered at par with

Tamil or Telugu movies and they also do not have an identity of their own. This is a dangerous position to be, and sooner the industry gets out of this the better it is for it.

Efforts are required to have a better understanding of the audience and the ethos of the land. Senior producer / directors must be involved and their guidance sought in charting out a direction for the industry. It is alright to look at Chennai or Hyderabad for technical expertise but the industry must look within for stories, ideas and direction.

11. Periodic Audience Survey

It is a universally accepted fact that movie business is very risky and we have seen that the productive theatrical time window available to movies is just one week from the date of release. The consumer study has shown that a majority of the moviegoers are young. Today’s younger generation is truly global in the sense that they are well connected with the rest of the world. They are more aware, materialistic and seek instant gratification. What is more, their values and beliefs keep changing, which in turn impact their tastes and preferences. It is also said that the generation gap is now just 7 years as compared to a couple of

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decades earlier. Some consumer studies have also shown that rural India is also undergoing a sea change due to wider exposure through TV and Internet. Rural youth today is as aspirational and brand conscious as its urban counterparts.

Given this, it is very necessary that the movie industry keeps itself updated on the changing likes and dislikes of its target audience. The data available on

Kannada movie industry is patchy and not reliable. Professional agencies such as

Earnst & Young and IMDB do undertake studies but they focus more on

Bollywood and the commercial aspects of cinema. Consumer studies are rare and

Kannada cinema can take a lead in this. Government bodies such as Karnataka

Chalanachitra Academy or private bodies such as Film Chamber of Commerce can initiate such studies and share the results with rest of the industry. What has been attempted in this work is just the tip of the iceberg and there are many more things to be uncovered with regard to consumers for the cinema industry.

12. Smart Marketing

Cinema watching has changed drastically. Earlier, it was sufficient to have a good story, strong performances and good star cast to ensure success of movies. The number of movies released were less and people came back to watch good movies repeatedly. There was no TV, no You Tube to compete with and even mediocre movies clicked because they had good songs and theatres was the only place where people could enjoy these songs.

Today, more number of movies is released every year. Indian market has opened up and Hollywood movies are also released in India along with rest of the world.

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Audience has alternatives such as Television, You Tube to watch movies.

Moreover, there are TV programmes, IPL cricket matches and, shopping malls that can substitute movies for entertainment. Needless to say, the scenario has become very competitive and complex. Content of the movies is not sufficient enough to lure the audience to theatres and moviemakers have to depend on marketing activities. There is research evidence that promotion of movies through marketing activities has an impact on the success of movies.10 A study carried out in 2008 shows that most movies that had good content and aggressive promotion were blockbusters. Moreover, it is also shown that aggressive promotion can lead to success even if the content is not very good.

The following table taken from the aforementioned research study testifies it. It studies a sample of movies from 2000 – 2006 with regard to their content, level of promotion and the success. From the table it can be seen that some movies, though good in content failed because they did not promote the movies adequately.

Though the examples cited are from Bollywood, the study is relevant for

Kannada movies as well. Kannada movies are not marketed well. Most of the times, one sees hoardings and posters but the other ways of marketing is lacking.

The younger generation today is digitally connected and it is important to make an impact here.

10 “Marketing strategies of Bollywood movies in India and overseas : An empirical study”, by P Prasada Rao and Kannan, The ICFAI journal of Business Strategy, Vol 5, No.1, 2008

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(promotion level 1 – 10 with 1 being low and 10 being high: Content Y for yes and N for No) Promotio Movie Content Status n Level Lage Raho Munnabhai Y 9 All Time Blockbuster Salaam Namaste Y 6 Blockbuster Munnabhai MBBS Y 7 Blockbuster Kaho Na Pyar Hai Y 5 Blockbuster Chale Chalte Y 5 Blockbuster Hanuman Y 5 Blockbuster Veer Zaara Y 6 Blockbuster Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham Y 6 Blockbuster Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna Y 6 Super Hit Sarkar Y 3 Super Hit Black Y 2 Super Hit Koi Mil Gaya Y 4 Hit Y 4 Hit Y 1 Hit Devdas Y 2 Hit Asoka Y 3 Flop Lakshya Y 3 Flop Chameli Y 1 Flop Swades Y 4 Flop Bunty Aur Babli N 7 Blockbuster No Entry N 6 Blockbuster Krrish N 8 Blockbuster 2 N 10 Blockbuster 36 China Town N 5 Super Hit Dhoom N 6 Super Hit N 4 Blockbuster Kaante N 3 Flop Naksha N 2 Flop Tango Charlei N 2 Flop The Hero N 1 Flop

Following are some of the marketing initiatives that the movie makers can think of

a) Trending of Kannada trailers on YouTube: Regional languages like

Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam industry releases movie trailers on

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YouTube and quite often these trailers trend with millions of views. The

trailer is released 3-4 months before the movie release. This creates

interest among the audience, they can identify with a movie release if they

have seen the trailer. Google found out that most people find out about a

movie about four weeks in advance of its release date, often coinciding

with the release of a trailer. Coupling trailer-related searches with

franchise status and seasonality metrics (does it open in the summer, or

holidays?), they found that they could predict box office variance at 94

percent. 11

The trailer of Ulidavaru Kandante is the classic example of good launch on

YouTube in recent times. The trailer garnered 4,74,271 views. Thus it

becomes critical to trend your trailer on YouTube using paid campaigns

such as YouTube Trends.

b) Audio Launches: Almost all the famous Tamil/Telugu cinema stars have

an audio release planned, two months before the movie release. This

again creates interest among fans and cinema goers. This audio release is

telecasted on regional channels. It creates awareness about the movie.

Kannada superstars rarely hold audio launches and success celebration of

their movies. These launches can be used as tool to create buzz and

market the movie.

11 “Do Youtube movie trailer searches correlate to box office success?”, www.reelseo.com accessed on 25th August 2015

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c) Alternate avenues to showcase parallel cinema: Cinema reaches the

audience using online paid platforms like TVF Box office

(http://tvfinboxoffice.com/#!home). Few critically acclaimed movies find

it difficult to get a theatrical release. Such Kannada movies can use the

online paid platforms. This model works on subscription or one-time

payment from movie viewers. The point of difference here is when you

pay to watch a movie, 80% of the money is transferred back on free-

charge and you can use the money on free charge. Technically the viewer

pays minimal amount (20%) and watches the movie. This way we can

maximize the reach of Kannada cinemas. This type of viewing is popular

is U.S and is catching up in India

d) Create positive Blogs: The post release marketing is also a very

significant as a positive buzz about the movie keeps the interest intact

among the target segment. Blog sites that write good about a movie can

be developed by people who have liked the movie and postings on the

facebook can also help promote movies.

e) Celebrities as Movie Critics: There are many movie critics appearing on

every TV channel after the release of movies. These reviews definitely

have an impact on the minds of the customers. Instead of having the TV

staff as movie critics, it would be innovative to have a celebrity come on

the TV to talk good about the movies. People such as have

a lot of credibility and if they say positive things about a movie it is bound

to have a positive impact.

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13. Connect through Film Society

The recent Malayalam blockbuster had a 100 day run in the United Arab

Emirates (UAE). The success can be attributed to the large Malayali diaspora in the gulf nations but a significant number of non- also would have watched the movie. Sadly the viewership of Kannada movies outside Karnataka is dismally low compared to other south Indian languages. Kannada families settled outside Karnataka do not watch Kannada movies and hence their children also do not get to watch Kannada movies. This potentially eliminates future audience for Kannada movies. One way of countering this is to develop

Kannada Film Societies outside the sate in major cities. Industry should take initiatives and identify Kannada movie buffs in these places and designate them as champions. These champions can lead the initiative of developing Kannada movie watching habits among outside state Kannadigas.

14. Identification and development of artistic talent

In the past, stars such as , and Vinod Mehra have emerged through talent search contests. While Dharmendra came through a

Filmfare12 organized contest, Rajesh Khanna and Vinod Mehra were the products of a talent search contest organized by a group of producers that included G P

Sippy, Shakti Samantha and Nazir Hussain.

Similar efforts are required in Kannada movie industry to identify and develop in house talent. It is a fact that star power plays a significant role in the success of

12 A very popular fortnightly magazine dedicated to Hindi movies

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movies and more stars with box office pull can ensure a longer run for movies at the theatres. It is also a fact that the most important ingredient to become a star is talent. Actors such as Rajkumar, Anant Nag and Vishnuvardhan were bundles of talent and actors such as Ambareesh and Prabhakar worked their upwards through sheer talent. There is no dearth of talent in Karnataka and there are artistes waiting to be tapped by moviemakers. They only need a platform to showcase their talents. Kannada producers must look outside Bangalore for talent in the area of acting, singing, story writing and screenplay.

15. Cost Management

One of the problems plaguing the industry is high cost of making movies. This compels the movie makers to look only at stars having box office pull so that initial draw at the box office is ensured. Because the cost of making movies is high, a majority the producers seem to avoid all kinds of risk, which is seen in their preference for remake movies and avoidance of any type of experimentation in story and screenplay.

One way of improving the quality of movies and experimenting with new faces is to overcome market risks by non-traditional methods of financing the movies.

There have been instances of movies being made from the money raised from public. For example Lucia, a psychological thriller film written and directed by

Pawan Kumar, premiered at the London Indian Film Festival in July 2013 and won the Best Film Audience Choice award at the festival. It was also among the films shortlisted by the FFI to become India's submission for Academy Award for

Best Foreign Language Film for the year 2013. Made on a shoe string budget of

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Rs.50 lakhs, it went on to make more than Rs.3 crores at the box office.

Lucia is notable for its use of crowd funding technique. It was funded by 110 investors who contributed to the project through a Facebook page and a blog run by director-actor Pawan Kumar. It was the first Kannada movie to bypass the traditional film-financing mode. Lucia was made at a budget of Rs.50 lakhs and made in excess of Rs.3 Crores. Kannada language television channel Udaya TV bought the satellite rights of the film for Rs.95 lakhs.

A similar approach is seen in Kerala with film maker Sudevan, who has funded his movies through contributions from fans. The contributions are often in the range of Rs.100- Rs.500 and occasionally Rs.1000 – Rs.5000. His first feature film, CR No.89, cost Rs.7.25 lakhs and was made mainly from such contributions.13

The success stories of such endeavors have not reached many people. These are published as newspaper articles that are not read by the masses. If the industry can institutionalize crowd funding by streamlining all the activities related to it, it will gain more popularity and credibility. The success of such a system can ensure improvement in the quality of movies and more experimentation in

Kannada cinema.

13 “A film runs through this village” by Charmy Harikrishnan, India Today, July 13, 2015

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16. Stars as partners

The industry should look at stars not just as box office attractions but also as entities who can play a larger role in the overall movie making value chain. Stars can contribute and gain much more by participating in the following initiatives.

Producers can have stars as partners in their movies. Stars can be allowed to invest in the movies or stars can be given the distribution rights of certain territories. This will ensure a better commitment from stars towards the movies they are involved in.

Stars can also be involved in marketing activities of movies in a sustained manner. Other than the pre-release promo, shows stars can also travel to important locations to promote movies. Recently Actor Sathish along with the music director Poornachandra Tejaswi visited colleges in Davangere to promote Lucia. It is a common practice among Bollywood stars to travel to important locations such as Delhi, Ahmedabad and Pune for promoting their movies. This can be done for Kannada movies as well. Stars can also be involved in the activity of sending sms messages in their name so that the message has more value and credibility. Comprehensive contracts with stars can be signed covering all these aspects.

17. Story – Originality (Industry)

One of the major complaints among the Kannada movie watching audience is that Kannada movies lack good stories and originality. Gone are the days when a lot of Kannada movies were based on novels. The pioneer in this practice was

110 Part 5: Recommendations

Puttanna Kanagal whose hit movies, Nagarahavu, Gejje pooje, Sharapanjara,

Dharmasere, Shubhamangala, Paduvarahalli Pandavaru were all based on novels.

The practice of converting good popular novels and stories into movies seems to have waned in the last couple of decades. It also often heard moviemakers complaining that there are no good stories in Kannada language. This argument is rather difficult to accept, as the literary world of Karnataka is full of distinguished writers.

What seems to be lacking is a bridge between the industry and the literary world. First of all, there is a need for directors and producers to keep searching for good stories and think out of the box. This requires connect with good, popular storywriters on a continuous basis. Directors can also share a story idea and ask these writers develop the story instead of waiting for the writers to come up with the stories first. Producers can partner with magazines to run story / novel writing competition with a promise that the prize winning stories will be made into movies.

Given the cultural diversity in Karnataka, it is important that the stories are chosen with great care and consideration. Hence, moviemakers need to look for stories that have universal appeal within Karnataka. Movies such as Drishyam

(Malayalam), Sooryavansham, and (all Tamil) were remade in many Indian languages and they all clicked because the theme appeal was pan Indian. Even the recent blockbuster “Bahubali” has done well in all languages not because of its technical gloss but it was rooted in Indian culture and had a Chandamama based folk – fantasy that every Indian liked. Kannada

111 Part 5: Recommendations

moviemakers should look into aspects that unite various parts of Karnataka

(North Karnataka, Mysore Karnataka, Hyderabad Karnataka & Coastal

Karnataka) while choosing stories and themes. Consumers have indicated action and comedy as their favorite genres but within this, care should be taken to make movies that have pan Karnataka appeal.

112 Annexure - 1

Annexure - 1


Dear Sir, We are a top ranked business management college in India and we are conducting a study on movie watching habits and preferences with a focus on Kannada movies. In this connection we require some data, which we are capturing through the questions below. We would be extremely grateful if you can spare some time to complete this questionnaire. Your cooperation will go a long way in helping the industry –

1. What is your gender? a) Male ☐ b) Female ☐

2. Please tick the age group to which you belong – a) Between 16 to 25 years ☐ b) Between 26 to 40 years ☐ c) Between 40 to 60 years ☐ d) Above 60 years ☐

3. Please tick your qualification from the options below – a) SSLC (X Std.) ☐ b) Graduate ☐ c) Post-Graduate ☐

4. Please indicate your income group from the options below – a) Less than Rs.5,000 p.m. ☐ b) Between Rs.5000 to Rs.15,000 p.m. ☐ c) Between Rs.15,000 to Rs.40,000 p.m. ☐ d) Between Rs.40,000 to Rs.1,00,000 p.m. ☐ e) More than one lakh p.m. ☐

5. Please mention your mother-tongue - ……………………………….

6. Please mention which language are you most conversant with …………… Annexure - 1

7. Which language movies do you normally watch? (please tick in the relevant box)

Never watch Rarely watch Frequently Always watch Watch English Hindi Tamil Telugu Kannada Malayalam Tulu Marathi

8. How much do you like watching movies? a) I really like watching movies ☐ b) I like watching movies ☐ c) I neither like nor dislike watching movies ☐ d) I dislike watching movies ☐ e) I really dislike watching movies ☐

9. How often do you watch movies in theatres? a) Once a year or less ☐ b) Several times a year ☐ c) Once a month ☐ d) 2 to 3 times a month ☐ e) Once a week ☐ f) 2 to 3 times a week ☐

10. Where do you frequently watch movies?

a) Single Screens ☐ b) Multiplex ☐

11. In general, how much do you like watching movies from the following genres?

Genre Really Dislike Neither Like Really Dislike like nor Like dislike Action Comedy Crime Family Drama Horror Annexure - 1

Romance Historical Mythological Suspense Science Fiction

12. Please rank your preference to watch movies of the following languages (Rank 1 as most preferred language, 2 for next and so on)

Preference Rank Kannada English Hindi Telugu Tamil Marathi Malayalam Others

13. Please indicate the criteria based on which you decide to watch movies (tick all that apply)– a) Entertainment value ☐ b) Popularity based on reviews ☐ c) Star cast ☐ d) Music, dance and story in the movie ☐ e) Director of the movie ☐ f) Time-pass ☐

14. You normally watch movies– a) Alone ☐ b) With Friends ☐ c) With Family members ☐ d) With Colleagues ☐ e) Not very particular of company ☐

15. How often do you watch Kannada movies? a) Never ☐ b) Rarely ☐ c) Sometimes ☐ d) Often ☐ e) Always ☐

Annexure - 1

16. Which is the last Kannada movie seen by you?


17. Indicate your opinions on the Kannada movies released in the years’ shown below by ticking any one alternative for each decade. Decade Very Good Average Bad Very Bad Good 1970’s 1980’s 1990’s 2000’s 2010 onwards

18. What do you think is the problem with Kannada movies? (Tick all that apply) a) No good story ☐ b) No quality music ☐ c) No Good Actors ☐ d) No beautiful locations and settings ☐ e) Poor Star cast ☐ f) Expensive prices at Multiplex ☐ g) Not released frequently in Multiplex ☐ h) Very less marketing activities before movie release ☐ i) No originality ☐ j) Very far from Kannada culture ☐ k) Not impressive as movies from other languages ☐ l) Not lavish and posh ☐

19. Please rank the aspects you look for in a Kannada movie (Rank 1 as most preferred aspect, 2 for next and so on)

Aspect Your Rank Better Star cast Good quality music, locations and language Originality Affordable price at Multiplex More Kannada movie releases in Multiplex More remake of movies from other languages Good Marketing activities before movie release Close to Kannada culture Movies based on Novels Richer in production values

Annexure - 1

20. What is the role of the government in ensuring better viewership of Kannada movies? a) Low ticket prices both in Single Screens and Multiplexes ☐ b) Screen more Kannada movies in Multiplexes ☐ c) Ensure low price of eatables in Multiplexes ☐ d) More facilities to industry for producing quality movies ☐

***** Annexure - 2

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