There was much hullabaloo over demonetisation and GST rollout this year, and its effect on the movie industry. But, if the number of releases are anything to go by, Sandalwood seems unscathed. Last year, 172 films hit theatres and this year, 196 films did. Perhaps, here aspiration triumphs adversity.
That said, only a handful of Kannada films were well-made, which is of course a sad state of affairs. As the year draws to a close with a good ending with Chamak’s release, City Express tracks the highs and lows of 2017.
Raajakumara makes Sandalwood history
Despite the industry’s poor show in terms of quality, a few established filmmakers and newcomers did rejoice with their films doing well at the box office. First in line of this year’s superhits is Puneeth Rajkumar-starrer Raajakumara. The film directed by Santhosh Ananddram was declared an all-time industry hit, for its collections and size of audience. Its track Bombe Heluthaite scored by V Harikrishna was the most talked about song, with millions of viewers across the globe tuning in.
Debutants win heart
Though an offbeat film made with a shoe-string budget, Raj B Shetty’s Ondu Motteya Kathe produced by Pawan Kumar Films was much appreciated. Its unique script, of a young and balding man who is ‘fated’ to be an ascetic unless he gets married in an year, became the talk the town and touched a chord with varied audiences.
Tharun Sudhir’s directorial debut a win
Multistarrer-Chowka, which mar ked the directorial debut of Tharun Sudhir, also got a good reception from the audience, and the film had a 100-day run in theatres. A few other directors who did well with their first films were Adarsh Eshwarppa with Shuddhi, music director Ravi Basrur with Kataka, and Rohit Padaki with Dayavittu Gamanisi.
Producers did well with reasonable box-office success
A few got back the investment they made in the movie, while fewer rode back home with profits. Commercial films that did well at the box office, and ran for 100 successful days, include Raajakumara, Sudeep-starrer Hebbuli directed by S Krishna, and Dhruva Sarja’s Bharjari by Chethan Kumar. Going by industry reports, Mufti, a debut project by Narthan starring Sriimurali and Shivarajkumar, is heading in the same direction.Darshan’s starrer Tarak, directed by Prakash Jayaram, and Chowka kept the cash registers ringing.Films that earned their investments include Mugulu Nage, Operation Allamellamma, Kataka, Shuddhi and College Kumara.
Remakes scored high, while horror didn’t see frightening success
While we had 12 remakes in 2016, this year Sandalwood had 17 remakes. While Pushpaka Vimana-starring Ramesh Aravind was a remake of Korean film Miracle in Cell No 7, a few filmmakers continued to take inspiration from Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Marathi films, which was then remade in Kananda. Among them were Preethi Prema, Manasu Mallige, Pataka, Silicon City, Gowdru Hotel, Upendra Mathe Hutti Ba, Aake, Sathya Harischandra and Athiratha. In the horror genre, except for films such as Aake and Kataka, the filmmakers did not have much luck scaring the audience.
Shivarajkumar had the most number of releases in 2017, with 4 films
Shivarajkumar with four films - Srikanta, Bangara s/o Bangarada Manushaya, Mass Leader and Mufti - and Ganesh with three films - Pataki, Mugulu Nagte and Chamak- had the most number of movies out this year. Puneeth had Raajakumara and Anjaniputra, and Darshan had Chakravarthy and Tarak. Sudeep was out with only one film Hebbuli, like Dhruva Sarja with Bharjari.
Sruthi Hariharan tops with six releases
Actress too had their share of the limelight with six films from Sruthi Hariharan releasing this year -- Beautiful Manasugalu, Urvi Happy New Year, Vismaya, Tarak and Upendra Mathe Ba. Shanvi Srivastava had three releases - Saheba, Tarak and Mufti. This year Meghana Raj had Zinda and Allamma, Noorondu Nenapu; Shraddha Srinath had Urvi and Operation Alamelamma; Rashmika Mandanna had Anjaniputra and Chamak and Rachita Ram had release with Pushpaka Vimana and Bharjari and Hariprriya with Bharjari.
Rishi and Manoranjan make an entry into Sandalwood
A few artistes made a mark with their debut and among them were Rishi and Manoranjan. Though the former had a good start with Operation Alamelamma, the latter’s first film Saheba did not fare well, as expected.
Gods did draw audiences
A few filmmakers tried their luck with devotional dramas, and the movies included Bhagwad Sriramanuja, Shivarathri Srilingeshwara and Allama, on Basavanna biopic.
Handful of heroine-centric films
Though we saw a few heroine-centric films such as Urvi, Smuggler and Veera Ranachandi hit the screen, only debutant Adarsha Eshwarappa’s Shuddhi, that won critical acclaim and earned profits.
Sandalwood entertained children too
Children’s films such as Eleyaru Naavu Geleyaru, Puttani Safari, Keetle Krishna, Tab and Railway Children did well.
Dubbing enters industry, despite resistence
Though the industry has been fighting against dubbing for years now, a few movies were dubbed in Kannada and screened. These include Ajith’s starrer Tamil films - Yennai Arindal and Aarambam -- which were dubbed and released as Satyadev IPS and Deera respectively. But they met with lukewarm response. But, we can expect more dubbed movies in 2018.
Sandalwood lost artistes and producers this year including Rajkumar’s wife Parvathamma Rajkumar, B V Radha, Dhruva Sharma, R N Sudharshan and Padma Kumuta.
Happily ever after
There was gossip aplenty and there were happy engagements and marriages too - Rakshit Shetty got engaged to Rashmika Mandanna and Chiranjeevi Sarja to Meghana Raj. Amulya wed Jagadish, Rishab Shetty to Pragathi Shetty, Suni to Soundarya, and Priyamani to Mustafa.