Not a single guest of honour called upon to speak for a couple of minutes before a full-house of audience comprising people across all age groups and socio-economic background during the programme to present popular songs featured in Kannada movies of bygone years and telecast for 30 minutes from 10 pm five days a week by Chandana, the Kannada channel of Doordarshan misses to recollect the now-vanished top quality of songs of that past era, highlighting both melody part of the songs and also the refinement of the literary aspect of the lyrics. The well-informed speakers also make it a point to lament on the dismal fall in these qualities of songs and overall fall of the film world on all counts except glitter and glitz drawn from advanced technologies emerging in our times. Commerce has clearly stumped the outlook of film-makers playing to the gallery as it were.
Kannada film industry, which has come to be referred to as Sandalwood, is currently the fifth largest film industry in the country, judged by box-office performance, producing more than 200 motion pictures annually. Thanks to the presence of Kannadigas in other countries across the world, Kannada movies are released and viewed in about 60 countries abroad. While the greats of Kannada cinema produced more than 50 years ago were legends in their own lifetime, their counterparts of cinema of our times are dubbed as celebrities.
Kannada cinema, with a history of more than eight decades, owes its past glory mainly due to three factors, (a) The land’s epics with their rich and inexhaustible repertoire of absorbing episodes providing the storyline, (b) The well-established theatre personalities appearing on the silver screen and (c) The refined tastes of connoisseurs of movies of the past era. The galaxy of actors, actresses, singers, directors and producers of Kannada movies immortalised themselves drawing people of all age groups to the shows of the movies, unlike movies of our times which the senior citizens would religiously stay away from the show houses.
The issue of the none-too-happy plight of today’s Kannada cinema landed in the Karnataka Legislative Council last week. Apart from speaking some platitudes by the elected representatives of people and the usual plea for government action to restore the past quality standards of Kannada cinema, nothing concrete seems to have resulted from the debates. In short, the viewers of motion pictures get the films they seem to be relishing. For producers, it ought to be return on investment.