GANDHINAGAR: Mystery thriller Rangitaranga is running successfully across India this week, and encouraging Kannada films to look beyond Karnataka.
For long, Karnataka has been supportive of non-Kannada films. Its arthouse cinema makes it to festivals across the world, but its mainstream offerings have found little favour outside.
But led by two thrillers (Rangitaranga, Aatagara) and an eccentric philosophical caper (Uppi 2), mainstream Kannada films are piquing pan-Indian and overseas curiosity.
The subtitled Rangitaranga is currently running at Gurgoan, Kolkata, Pune, Mumbai, Kochi, Hyderabad, and Chennai, and in many cities in the US.
Aatagara is set to release across India in the next two weeks. Its makers, Dwarakish Pictures, have tied up with PVR to give it a pan-Indian release.
Producer Yogish told City Express Aatagara had already run for a week in Mumbai. Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Pune are next on the list.
“It will be a co-ordinated release either on September 11 or 18,” he told City Express.
Action in US
Anup Bhandari, writer and director of Rangitaranga, is currently in the USA overseeing its multi-city release.
“Our film has gone into the second week in a theatre in Chennai.
My dream is to see Kannada films release in 100-plus theatres in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, like their films do in Karnataka,” he said.
In every city it has played in outside India, Rangitaranga is the highest grossing Indian movie on the charts. “In at least 10 locations, it is the first Kannada film to get a release,” Bhandari said.
The industry hopes things have changed for the better. “The story has to be new and original. Fresh content keeps the market alive. And the making has to be good,” Yogish said.
When a film is released outside Karnataka, it competes with other languages with higher budgets, so production values shouldn’t be shoddy, he said, urging non-resident Kannadigas to patronise Kannada films.
“Every film cannot be a Rangitaranga or Aatagara. But it should be possible for us to revive our industry outside if Kannadigas watch one Kannada film every week,” he said.
Apthamitra, released in 14 centres in Maharashtra in 2004, did well. “But we have to be consistent. Rangitaranga has opened new doors. It is the responsibility of other producers to follow it with good cinema,” Yogish said.
He suggested upcoming films such as Kendasampige and Airavatha go global. “The chain should not be broken now,” he said.
Rangitaranga is into the fourth week in USA and continues screenings across Europe, Singapore and Australia. Its shows are sold out in Japan, Malaysia and the UK.
The film is scheduled to play in Manchester at a prestigious cinema with 1,300 seats.
Uppi 2 is releasing in 50 to 60 theatres across the USA, and its hero Upendra has been invited there to promote the film.
Aatagara, scheduled for a September 18 overseas release, will have nearly 100 shows in the opening weekend in 10 countries.
“We will have at least 20 shows in the USA, 16 show in Europe, 10 in Australia and six in Canada. Aatagara will simultaneously release in New Zealand, Japan and Singapore,” said Yogish.
Social media is helping Kannadigas connect with Bengaluru and Karnataka. “Tamil films are released everywhere, and do business in crores, thanks to the Tamils’ love of their language. For the Telugus, watching a film is as routine as eating,” he said.
And at halls closer home
While recent films are doing well at multiplexes and overseas, the response has not been so great at the mofussil centres. “There is a vast difference in taste between A and B and C centres, which is not so marked in other languages. What is liked by A centres is going global. But B and C is where the money is,” Yogish said. He feels films must run in smaller towns to be successful. “I have reached a global audience but I have not yet reached my own people.” However, Uppi 2 (above) is doing well in all centres.