Posts Tagged ‘Sandalwood’

The Talibanisation of Kannada cinema—Part II

15 January 2014

VASANT SHETTY writes from Bangalore: Bangalore is home to “Sandalwood”, the Kannada film industry.

The industry produces 120-130 movies an year and, like other major film industries in India, has about a 10% success rate.

Unfortunately, unlike other film industries, Sandalwood is known for banning dubbing of content to Kannada.

This unofficial ban on dubbing content effectively isolates Kannadigas who know only Kannada (approximately there are 2.5 to3 crore Kannadigas who know only Kannada and no other language) from the sea of knowledge and entertainment that exists in other languages.

We must note that the ban has no legal sanctity and is put in place by a private trade bodies like Karnataka film chamber of commerce (KFCC) and other similar organizations.

The private ban was put in place six decades ago in order to give boost to the then ailing Kannada film industry under the aegis of the legendary actor Dr Raj Kumar. The protectionist measure helped the novice industry to scale from less than 10 films a year to more than 100 films a year.

But like other typical protectionist schemes, the continued “PRIVATE” protection has resulted in isolating Kannadigas from receiving worldly knowledge in visual form and is fast turning counter-productive from the view point of increasing language’s reach.

Several past attempts by concerned individuals to debate the unconstitutional ban on dubbing was shot down in the guise of protecting of language and culture by vested interests.

Last year when the Hindi cinema actor Aamir Khan set out to do a social awareness program called Satyameva Jayate, he wanted to make this program available in most Indian languages using the means of dubbing.

In Kannada, the general entertainment channel Suvarna was planning to air this program in Kannada and as soon as the news broke out, sundry trade organisations affiliated to Kannada film and TV industry made sure that Suvarna channel backed off from that idea.

When Suvarna put the first episode of  Kannada version on YouTube, it received more than 30,000 views in 24 hours and strangely the very next day the video was pulled out from the internet too. Cartels from the film and TV industry were suspected to be behind this.

Amidst all this, Competition Commission of India (CCI) entered the scene after a complaint was lodged with it on the grounds that the ban violates the freedom of choice of a Kannadiga consumer from watching the best of entertainment and knowledge programs from across the world in his mother tongue.

The dubbing debate seems to have entered the last leg with recent media reports (Udayavani, 7 January) indicating that the CCI has come down very heavily on all associations affiliated to Kannada film and television industry for their blatant anti-consumer and anti-competition actions. This has triggered raging debates on Kannada TV and social media about pros and cons of dubbing once again.

On a serious note, is there anything to debate at all?

It’s an open and shut case. Whoever wants to see original content, they should have their choice, and whoever wants to see dubbed content, they should have their choice too.

In this context, we are running a petition requesting the chief minister of Karnataka and his administration to ensure that the citizens of Karnataka are able to exercise their freedom of choice.

I request all those individuals who believe in liberty, freedom of choice, democracy and rule of law to sign this petition and show your support for this people’s cause.

Sign the petition here: http://chn.ge/1izOkfI

Also read: The Talibanisation of Kannada cinema and television

An open letter to Aamir Khan, from a Kannadiga

What the Darshan‘s brutality says about Scandalwood

A private zoo owner climbs up Forbes celeb pole

14 December 2013

361509-sudeep

Celebrities live in a strange and nearly unbelievable age of make-believe, where often times bad news is good news.

For all their cinematic talent and box-office success (and, on top of it, demonstrated decency in public life) neither Dr Raj Kumar nor Vishnuvardhan ever figured like or towered over their peers and compatriots in the national consciousness.

But Darshan Tugudeep (in picture, left) is a different kettle of fish.

The “challenging star” of dozens of execrable films which strangely seem to have a magnetic hold on moviegoers; the “challenged star” who beat up his wife, stubbed a burning cigarette, tore her dress, bit her ear, threatened their son, and pulled out his revolver sparking homas and processions from his equally challenged followers, has made it to Forbes India magazine’s list of the top 100 celebrities in the country.

In fact, the Mysore-born star debuts healthily at No. 65, three places lower than Sudeep at No. 62.

The accompanying text for Darshan reads:

65. Darshan

Earnings: Rs 24 crore

Fame rank: 98

“The Kannadiga actor [who has a private zoo] is among the highest paid stars from the South Indian film industry…. Darshan won the best actor award at the south Filmfare awards for his role in 2012 historical biopic Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna. Like many of his other peers, Darshan too is attempting to build a business that is independent of his acting skills. His family currently owns a a shooting unit…. Apart from a production house, Darshan has started a film distribution business, giving a boost to his earnings.”

In contrast, the text for Sudeep, who earns less and is apparently less famous, is positively bland.

62. Sudeep

Earnings: Rs 13.50 crore

Fame rank: 61

One of the few Kannada actors to have successfully transitioned across language barriers, Kichcha Sudeep had a pretty varied and fulfilling year. He won a slew of awards for his role as the villain in the Telugu-Tamil fantasy movie Eega.

The only other Kannadiga celebs on the list are Deepika Padukone who is at No. 11 with earnings of Rs 39.50 crore, Rahul Dravid who is at No. 30 (Rs 7.66 crore), Aishwarya Rai who is at No. 51 (Rs 13.50 crore), Prabhu Deva who is at No. 90 (Rs 8.50 crore).

Also read: What Darshan‘s brutality says about Sandalwood

Darshan scandal reveals Kannada bias, bigotry’

CHURUMURI POLL: Should Darshan be banned?

When wife-beater Darshan campaigns for Congress

Talibanisation of Kannada cinema and television

26 April 2012

VASANT SHETTY writes from Bangalore: Aamir Khan announced his entry into the small screen with “Satya Meva Jayate” a few days ago. The program was planned to be aired in several Indian languages including Kannada on Star India’s network channels.

In Kannada, Suvarna, the general entertainment channel owned by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, was supposed to air this program from May 6.

Now, this program will be telecasted in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil while Kannada gets dropped from the list, thanks to the ban on dubbing imposed by a few sundry private organisations in the name of protecting Kannada language and culture.

The same associations which ransacked the office of Zee Kannada last year protesting its move to air a voice-dubbed program on Jhansi Rani Laxmibai are at it again. Fortunately, this time Suvarna backed off before the associations took law into their hands.

This brings us to the question: Who are these organisations to ban anything in a constitutional democracy?

In a civilised democratic society, there is no place for bans of any kind even if it is imposed by an elected government. In a democracy, I, as a consumer, have every right to demand all sources of knowledge and entertainment in a language of my choice as long as my demands are within the limits of law.

Like me, there are lakhs of Kannadigas who may want to watch a Disney character speaking in Kannada, or a Discovery, Animal Planet program on Amazon forests being aired in Kannada, or watching Avatar 3D in Kannada. Why am I being denied my rightful access to all these in a language of my choice?

Has Karnataka ceased to be a democratic State any more?

Has it become a banana republic where unelected feudal people rule the roost?

Have you seen something similar in any other cinema industry?

Like any other trade, the trade of cinema runs on supply and demand. Where there is a demand for certain products and services, there will be suppliers willing to supply them for profit.

Plain and simple?

Sadly, it isn’t the case with Kannada cinema and television industry.

It runs on Taliban-like fatwas to TV channels to not air the dubbed content than going by the merits/demerits of demand for dubbed content in the market. It runs by sucking tax payers money in the form of subsidies offered to almost 60% of films made every year than going through the test of markets. And it also runs on blaming government for its failures day in and day out.

The Kannada cinema and television industry has failed to internalise the fact that it is a for-profit industry run by private individuals and not some government-funded public goods with a charitable motive.

The Kannada film industry, though small in size has bigger social impact when it comes to cinema as a linguistic register. Kannada films have a decisive role in keeping the language on the tongues of young Kannadigas.

The undemocratic and unconstitutional ban on dubbing has made sure that in a fast globalising world, Kannadigas are left with very little choice of knowledge and entertainment shows offered in Kannada. Except for the boring soap operas, fighting news channels, and macchu-kocchu movies, I do not have anything in Kannada that tickles my senses.

The Telugu, Tamil and Hindi cinema industries where no such dubbing ban exists, have way bigger market size in both cinema and television sector and are offering clear lessons on the importance of doing away with such undemocratic bans.

The media in Karnataka have a bigger role in building a narrative of how this ban on dubbing is turning out to be detrimental for the future of Kannada by engaging in debates, discussions involving everyone,most importantly the consumer who holds the purse strings deciding the future of everyone involved.

Why modern Kannada films loathe Bangalore City

14 October 2011

The depiction of the “City” in Indian cinema has changed from one of unbridled optimism and opportunity in post-Independent India to the ossification of the great urban dream in the post-liberalised phase.

No City exemplifies this cinematic trend better than Bangalore in which Karnataka’s urbs prima is shown by contemporary Kannada films (like Majestic, Kitty, Jogi and Duniya) in the eyes of Kannada-speaking migrants as a seedy capital of crime, injustice, unemployment, exploitation and worse.

The film scholar M.K. Raghavendra detects at least five reasons for this “unconcealed loathing” of Bangalore by Kannada films, in an article in Caravan magazine:

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1) Unlike mainstream Hindi cinema which has a large constituency spread across the nation, “Kannada cinema defies the expectation of a pan-Kannada reach: earlier, it restricted its vision to princely Mysore (made up of Bangalore, Mysore and the remainder of southern Karnataka) and it continues to exclude Kannada-speaking regions beyond.”

2) “Mysore, during its rule by the Wodeyar dynasty, was regarded as a ‘nation within a nation’ and, to a large degree, has retained its exclusive culture ever since the time of British India. Vestiges of this sentiment lingered on in Kannada cinema, which was born in 1930s Mysore, even after linguistic reorganisation…

3) “Linguistic reorganisation did not create unity in the way it was anticipated. Bangalore became the capital of Kannada-speaking Karnataka, though it was only a few hours away from Tamil-speaking Tamil Nadu, Telugu-speaking Andhra Pradesh and Malayalam-speaking Kerala. As the two sections of Bangalore grew into each other, the city came to exhibit an unusual degree of cosmopolitanism.

4) The IT industry and IT-enabled services favoured those with an English-medium education. “These companies started to recruit from all over India and estimates show that presently only 10 percent of the jobs in the new economy are held by Kannada speakers. Since these companies pay their employees substantially higher wages, the spending power of non-Kannada workers—increasingly visible in new consumption trends—has become a talking point in Bengaluru.”

5) “Another reason for the disaffection of Kannada speakers is perhaps the endless expansion of Bengaluru, marked by the entry of private builders. Families that originally owned bungalows, as well as farmers on the periphery, succumbed to the needs of the ever-expanding city. Those now occupying the apartments in the city are new entrants to Bengaluru, with visibly greater purchasing power. Farmers who gave up their land in exchange for the compensation available to them have realised its soaring value too late. Given this troubled history, Bengaluru may be expected to represent more than simply an archetypal ‘city’ for Kannada cinema.”

Photograph: A still from Jogi, starring Shiva Rajkumar, in which a country bumpkin attempts to find his feet in Bangalore.

Read the full article: Meanings of the City

CHURUMURI POLL: Vishnuvardhan’s top-5 films?

30 December 2009

Vishnuvardhan starred in tens of memorable songs, but his brief guest appearance as a lecturer in friend Ravichandran‘s Grease2 takeoff, Prem Loka, brought an admirable lightness to the superhit film.

Which are Vishnuvardhan’s top-5 songs?

And which are his top-5 films?

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Below, Vishnuvardhan with Suhasini in Muttina Haara. Both these songs, the first in Kannada, the second in Kodavatak, come from the quill of Hamsalekha.

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IMDB: Vishnuvardhan Filmography

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Also read: ‘Bollywood: India’s most moronic cultural export’

‘Bollywood’s a scam. Farah Khan is a big, fat con’

Adoor: Do only Bollywood beauties possess glamour?

Mammootty: Is Hindi cinema Indian cinema?

Girish Kasaravalli: Why national media ignored national awards

CHURUMURI POLL: Finest non-Kannada singer?

5 August 2009

Yesterday was Kishore Kumar‘s 80th birthday, and this number from Kulla Agent 000 is his only Kannada number. (At least the only one we know of.)

But, given the profusion of outside singers in Sandalwood today, the birthday provides a good opportunity to poll the best non-Kannada singer in Kannada filmdom.

Is S.P. Balasubrahmanyam tops? Where does the new crop of Udit Narayan, Kunal Ganjawala and Sonu Nigam figure? Can K.S. Chitra, Shreya Ghoshal and Sunidhi Chauhan ever match P. Susheela and S. Janaki?

Also read: How Kannada filmdom is killing Kannada music


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