In 1980, when late Shankar Nag’s film, Auto Raja hit the screens, it clicked with the Kannada audiences. However, the profoundness of the film had its major impact on the autorickshaw drivers who were blown away by Nag’s real-life character portrayal. So much so that even 23 years after his death, his portrayal is considered sacrosanct by the drivers. So, it comes as no surprise that they emotionally connect with Shankar’s Auto Raja and display his posters all over their autos.
While there are many autos that act as ‘mobile’ fan clubs for Bollywood and Sandalwood actors; the huge population of these vehicles and their dependence by commuters have also drawn the attention of directors and producers. As a result, there have been a considerable number of movies in Kannada that shed some light on these three-wheelers and their drivers.
We take you down the memory lane and bring back actors who have portrayed the character of an auto driver in Sandalwood and other popular cinema.
Auto Raja (1980)
Commercial film producers took notice of Shankar Nag and he soon began acting in typical ‘masala’ films. However, it was Auto Raja that immortalised him among the masses. Apart from Shankar Nag, Auto Raja also had Gayathri as the heroine. The film directed by Vijay also saw Dwarakish, Balakrishna and Leelavathi playing supporting characters. Even the music was quite popular and was composed by Rajan-Nagendra.
Aye Auto (1990)
A Malayalam romantic-musical film directed by Venu Nagavalli and starring Mohanlal and Rekha in the lead roles, Aye Auto showcases the life of auto drivers in the city of Calicut. The film portrays the life of autorickshaw drivers in a realistic manner and their struggle for survival. It was a huge blockbuster hit and second highest grosser after His Highness Abdullah in the Kerala box office in 1990.
Baasha is a 1995 Tamil action drama film starring Rajinikanth, Nagma, and Raghuvaran. The film was directed by Suresh Krishna, and music was scored by Deva. The film was a blockbuster and completed 175-days. The film is supposed to be a revised adaptation of Amitabh Bachchan starrer Hum and it took inspiration from Mammootty starrer Samrajyam.
Yaare Neenu Cheluve (1998)
The film starring Ravichandran and Kamli almost reminds one of an old-world romance. It was one of the popular films of Ravichandran and was directed by D Rajendra Babu. The film revolved around two lovers who are in different cities and how they interact with each other.
The film was a remake of Tamil movie Baasha, starring Vishnuvardhan as Nanjunda, an auto driver. The film directed by Naganna also saw Priyanka Upendra in the movie along with Avinash and Ramesh Bhat. This movie was a major hit among Vishnuvardhan fans.
Ranga SSLC (2004)
Ranga SSLC is a 2004 Kannada comedy-drama film directed by Yogaraj Bhat and produced by N Kumar. The music for the film was composed by Sandeep Chowta. The movie starred Sudeep and Ramya where Sudeep essayed the role of an auto driver.
Auto Shankar (2005)
Auto Shankar starring Upendra, Shilpa Shetty, Kutty Radhika and Sudharani was directed by D Rajendra Babu and produced by Ramu. The film successfully ran for 100 days and was one of the biggest hits of the year 2005.
Saarathi is a 2011 romantic Kannada film starring actor Darshan. It was directed by his brother Dinakar Thoogudeep and produced by K V Satya Prakash. In fact, it was Deepa Sannidhi’s debut film. V Harikrishna composed the music for the film and lyricist Nagendra Prasad penned the songs. Saarathi was a blockbuster film and grossed approximately `97.4 crore. The film completed 50 days in 93 centres and completed 100 days in 28 centres.
Auto Raja (2013)
Auto Raja is an upcoming Kannada romantic film which will be written and directed by Uday Prakash. The film stars Ganesh, Bhama and Deepika Kamaiah in the lead roles. The title is inspired by the popular Kannada film of the same title that starred Shankar Nag and Gayatri which was released in 1980.