Kanteerava studio is holding its own, despite a new generation of Kannada filmmakers
The 45-year-old Kanteerava Studio in Nandini Layout is a major landmark in the history of ‘Sandalwood' or the Kannada film industry. Not only does it provide every facility needed for production of film and television programmes, but the place has also become a tourist destination because of its 2.5-acre memorial to the cultural icon and thespian Rajkumar.
In addition to its two existing floors, another floor will come up shortly, and the studio will soon have all facilities under one roof, says Vishu Kumar, managing director of Kanteerava Studio. “It will facilitate shooting with many backgrounds,” he adds. There is already a spacious, manicured garden and permanent sets of courts of law and police stations.
Kanteerava Studio was established in 1966, when the Kannada film industry was facing problems because of lack of adequate shooting floors in Bangalore. The issue was discussed in the State Assembly and the government decided to support entrepreneurs who came forward to set up a studio.
It was Gubbi Veeranna, a doyen of Kannada theatre and film, who came forward to accept the challenge. He was supported by T.S. Karibasavaiah, Annadanappa Doddameti, Rathnavarma Hegde of Dharmasthala and politician K.V. Shankare Gowda.
The Kanteerava Studio was launched as a joint stock company with 115 shareholders investing Rs. 7.5 lakh and the government contributing Rs. 5 lakh.
The studio's first shooting floor, Kaveri, was considered as the biggest in the country when it was thrown open in 1970. The construction of the second floor, Kalyani, was completed in 1972.
The State government lent Rs.12 lakh to purchase production accessories including Michael cameras.
Spread over 17.5 acres, the studio has become an inseparable part of the Kannada film industry over the past four decades, as many landmark films have been shot here, including those of the Dr. Raj banner.
Producer-director Sameeulla claims he was the first to shoot a film (Takka Bitre Sikka) at Kanteerava Studio.
Gopalakrishna, who was working in a film processing plant in Bombay (now Mumbai), started a processing unit in the studio, which helped in developing film prints. Four Moviola editing tables were set up to edit four films at a stretch. Later, a colour processing unit and recording studios were also set up.
Big budget films including Guru Shishyaru, Eradu Nakshatragalu, Shivanaga, Krantiyogi Basavanna, Runamukhtalu and Ranganayaki were shot here.
The ambitious public initiative started suffering as a new generation of filmmakers and new filmmaking techniques took over the industry. Outdoor and realistic shooting came into vogue and became affordable. Private entrepreneurs inside the studio downed their shutters.
In 2005, the State government initiated a proposal to revive the studio by contracting out maintenance to private firms. By the time the Public Sector Reforms Commission asked unhealthy government undertakings to either close down or go for private partnership, the studio had started earning profits.
According to Vishu, the studio has made profit of Rs. 40 lakh this year and is now financially viable. Work on developing a new 100x80 ft floor and other small floors is in progress.
Two television channels are making the best use of the facilities at the studio now. The new floor will be fully dedicated to films. Every effort is being made against privatising this iconic studio.