CHENNAI: Three years of relentless hardwork by avid Sivaji Ganesan fan and film distributor Santhi Chokkalingam have made possible the re-release of the celebrated actor’s magnum opus ‘Karnan’.
Santhi, whose banner Divya Films has also re-released other classics like Nadodi Mannan, Deivamagan, Raja and Ulagam Sutrum Vaaliban, says “When I saw Karnan as a child, I became a Sivaji fan for life. Every frame of the movie carries a message. You can interpret the meaning of friendship, gratitude, courage and chivalry by seeing the movie. I just wanted the pleasure of seeing the movie on a big screen.
“We bought the theatrical rights of Karnan for a period of six years from Raj TV in 2010. Even before that, they gave me the motion picture’s negative on goodwill, which enabled me to check the quality of the images,” she says.
As is the case with such processes, there would be hurdles. The first roadblock, she says, came in the form of nearly defunct audio negatives.
Famous Studios in Mumbai, which had worked on restoring the Hindi classic Mughal-E-Azam, to help us with it. They directed us to Sangeetha Sound Studio in Chennai, which restored the audio almost entirely. “Now that the movie is ready, I am planning on releasing it in mid-March in at least 50 screens in the state,” she says.
Santhi is also pleased that she would be bringing out the film once more to the public in the year of the director’s birth centenary. “The film’s release has coincided with the birth centenary year of Karnan’s director B R Panthulu and
I am very happy about it. Even with `100 crores, a film of that magnificence cannot be recreated today,” she says.
Thespian Y Gee Mahendra, who assisted in the re-release, recalls the excitement around the original release. “It was a much-hyped affair and Shanthi Theatre (in Chennai) had a 60-feet banner of a chariot to attract the audience. More than its initial release, the film was received better during its re-runs,” he says.
Interestingly, only three actors of the original film-actor V S Raghavan, Shanmugasundaram and Master Sridhar are alive to see the restored epic release on screen shortly.