There’s one word on the lips of the biggest filmmakers of Kannada cinema: Pan-India. Pan-Indian films are a growing trend established by the resounding success of Yash-starrer and Prashanth Neel directorial, KGF Chapter 1, Darshan’s 50th film Munirathna Kurukshetra, Sudeep-starrer Pailwaan, and Rakshit Shetty’s Avane Srimannarayana. Up next is Upendra-starrer Kabza, directed and produced by R Chandru, and slotted to be released in as many as seven languages, including Marathi and Bengali.
Sources indicate quite a few Kannada filmmakers are contemplating to release their films in multiple Indian languages. Karthik Gowda, who is the executive producer of KGF films and also a distributor, thinks that the pan-India aspirations of Kannada cinema is ambitious, “A pan-India release is what films of all languages will eventually aspire for. It isn’t just the concept of the film or the lavishness that determine whether a film can work across regions. It’s a combination of many aspects. We need to give a reason for people speaking other languages to watch our cinema.”
Director Krishna, who entered the Kannada film industry with his maiden venture Pailwaan, is convinced that if the content is universal, the film can get a good worldwide opening. “Producers play an important role, as a lot of money is at stake. Going by my experience, one will need between `10-20 crore, if one wants to take their film to all languages. Taking it to Bollywood especially costs a lot,” he explains. Citing the example of Telugu cinema and its most popular production, Baahubali, Krishna urges that it not be viewed as a template. “Success comes differently to different content. We must not try to imitate. It’s heartening however that the Kannada film industry has shown such potential for growth.”
Kannada cinema’s prominence on the map has also resulted in films of other languages being dubbed in Kannada. Producer and distributor Manjunath Gowda who took up the Kannada distribution rights of Salman Khan-starrer Dabangg 3 talks about the challenges of taking films across regions. “It can’t happen unless distributors from other states show interest in diversity. Just one film doing well won’t do the trick. The trend of Kannada films doing well across the country has started over the last couple of years. The idea should be to focus on content with a universal appeal.”
Producer Pushkara Mallikarjunaiah had his film Avane Srimannarayana released in five languages. He feels that the multiplex audience prefer to watch films with subtitles, as opposed to dubbed versions. “Only a film that creates a great buzz before the release can reach out to tier 2 and 3 centres and create business. We must try to convince people to watch our films in Kannada along with subtitles.” He also points out that the starcast plays a big role. “Their importance cannot be underestimated in pan-Indian films.”