BENGALURU: In an industry driven by big numbers, the re-release of the 1971 black-and-white film Kasturi Nivasa has shown that nostalgia can make great business sense. The film that was re-released on October 7, 2014, has been creating magic at the box office. Distributor and producer KCN Mohan, who took the initiative of converting the film into colour by investing Rs 2 crore, is a happy man.
He is happy to have fulfilled his father, producer and distributor KCN Gowda's wish. Gowda had wanted Kasturi Nivasa to be shot in colour. The film, which was released in 40 theatres initially, is now running in almost 80 theatres on demand. "The cash registers are ringing. We are talking crores. We have added 40 more screens all over Karnataka and the film is running successfully in theatres like Bhumika, Uma, Navarang and other single-screen theatres. We are getting great response from multiplexes too," says Mohan.
SK Bhagavan, who directed the film along with late Dorairaj, is happy that a classic like Kasturi Nivasa is still being lapped up eagerly by a new generation of viewers.
At 81, the director is back in the news and is busy visiting theatres to check the response. "I am astonished and amazed with the response this movie has been receiving," says Bhagavan.
In retrospect, the journey of the film from the past into the present was not that arduous. All that Bhagavan did was to grant the permission to make it in colour. The film was then taken over by colourists Sundar Raj Pathi, Shanmugam and Pradeep Shah. "Shanmugam has been in the colouring business since he took over his father T P Gangadhar's printing business," says Mohan.
Bhagavan says that KCN Gowda was very keen on making the film in colour even when it was being shot all those years back. "Gowda purchased the rights of the film for 11 months for a sum of Rs 3.75 lakh. Back then, it was not a small sum. He was so excited about the story that he wanted it in colour. We had to stop our shooting for three to four hours for the deliberation. But Rajkumar advised him against it and said that if the story is good, the film will run in black -and-white as well. We completed the shooting in exactly 20 days. And sure enough, Kasturi... ran for 100 days. When the film completed 50 days, the rights were sold to other languages too," explains Bhagavan, adding, "I, along with Dorai, have done 50 films and shooting them was a breeze. It was a simpler time and we never encountered difficulties. It was possible because we planned everything perfectly and every little detail was well executed."
Explaining the reason behind the film's success, Bhagavan says, "Though a good film, the black-and-white frames looked weary and the sound and visual quality had suffered.
But now when you see it in the theatre, you get involved in its flow and identify with all the characters. I have visited almost all the theatres, and I rarely saw a person coming out of the hall without tears in their eyes. I never dreamt that the film would have such an impact on the present audience. It is a myth when somebody says that this generation is different or that their tastes have changed. This film is a clear indication that nothing has changed.”
Kasturi was selected for a re-release because it was a classic film and musically a big hit. Rajkumar did this film in his prime and is seen in modern clothes and a contemporary hair style which is trendy even now.
“We had invited Rajkumar’s wife Parvathamma Rajkumar, her family and actress Jayanthi to watch the film, and they were all happy with the new look,” says Mohan.
He further adds, “Multiplexes that never touched old classics accommodated our film whole-heartedly. The pre-release buzz paved the way for the film to be screened in such a big manner.”
Mohan had previously re-released Rajkumar’s Sathya Harischandra in colour and the next film that he has chosen for restoration is Veera Kesari. The film has been picked as it is a mythological extravaganza that cannot be remade today.