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August 2, 2000
Huge losses do not bother Karnataka film industry
M D Riti in Bangalore
"I don't care how much loss I incur," says actor-producer B C Patil. "I will not have the mahurat of my new film until Dr Rajakumar is free and back with us."
Even as Tamil Nadu government's emissary, Gopal, trudges up MM Hills to meet Veerapan, the man who is holding Dr Rajakumar hostage, the Kannada film industry is desperately hoping that their icon will be returned to them by Friday.
Today, for the third consecutive day, the Kannada film industry has not worked. It is difficult to estimate the total loss to the industry due to the closure.
"I think it would be about Rs 300 million," says K M Veeresh, photographer-journalist, now editor of his own online film magazine.
"There are 95 theatres in Bangalore and over 1600 in the state, all of which have stopped screening films. All shooting, dubbing, recording and television activities have come to a halt too. It's quite amazing. Nobody in the industry is cribbing. They are all standing solidly behind Dr Rajakumar," he adds.
The worst hit have been the films released on Friday, July 28 and Friday, July 21.
Sunil Kumar Desai's unusual love story Sparsha was doing well at the box when its screening was stopped. Producer Sanjeev is quite resigned to the fact that he may not regain the momentum, as many new films will compete with his when screening resumes.
Two other fairly mediocre films, Bhoomi and Durgada Huli, had just completed their first week when theatres across the state downed shutters. These films might just get completely washed out, competing as they will be with big-banner productions once theatres reopen.
The first big-banner film awaiting release is Galate Aliyandre (rowdy sons-in-law), which will also mark the debut of H D Deve Gowda's son H D Kumaraswamy as a producer. The film stars Rajakumar's eldest son Shivaraj Kumar and director-turned-actor S Narayan.
Another film titled Independence Day, which emerged from the cans after two years, is desperately hoping that the industry will resume work before Friday, August 11.
As shootings have come to a standstill, many directors have been left with hired equipment on their hands, travel bookings and other huge investments.
Veeresh estimates that there are six films under production and twice that number in post-production stage. One of these is Rama Naidu's Madhuve Aagona Baa (Come, lets get married) starring Shivaraj. Another is producer Jayasri Devi's mega-budget film starring Chiranjeevi, Soundarya, Ramya, Arjun and Ramya Krishna.
Jayasri Devi says she may not shift shooting to Hyderabad, as she had originally planned before Rajakumar was kidnapped. Instead, she too will wait for Dr Rajakumar's return with others in Bangalore.
Stuck in post production is O Nanna Nalle (Oh my sweetheart) and Narayan's Nannavalu Nannavalu (My woman, my woman).
Waiting for its mahurat is another big film being produced by Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce president K C N Chandrashekar's brother K C N Mohan. This film has signed up three middle-level heroes: Devaraj, Shashikumar and Jaggesh, and had scheduled its pooja on August 6.
The daily wage earners attached to the industry like the poster pasters have also been left high and dry. There are nearly 2000 workers registered at the Karnataka Film Workers' Association, according to Veeresh.
The small vernacular newspapers, who depend on advertisements from the film industry for their daily bread, have also been badly hit, and so have been the colour film processing laboratories.
"The real irony is that a Kannada film titled Veerappan, produced by Palchandani and released a decade ago, did very well at the box office and even got an award for second best film in Karnataka. It also shot its hero Devaraj into the limelight," recalls Veeresh.
"Now the real-life Veerappan has brought the Kannada film industry to a stand-still. Rumour mills have it that Veerappan was so thrilled with the idea of a film based on him that the bandit watched it at a small theatre near Mysore.
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