The tally of hits and misses of Kannada films, as the year draws to a close, is not very optimistic. Of 102 the films released in 2012, only 20 succeeded in recovering their costs. The rest bombed at the box office.
As the beleaguered Kannada film industry celebrates its 78 anniversary, it has much to worry about — the latest being the controversy around the issue of dubbing successful films from neighbouring States, which many believe will destroy original content of Kannada films.
However, the practice of remaking hits in Kannada is going on unabated. This, many critics argue, reflects an “intellectual bankruptcy”. Many actors prefer remakes as they have been “tested” in another language. The raised expectations of the audience, who are comparing Kannada films with other booming film centres, are also not helping matters.
Though the number of remakes has come down relatively this year, audiences are finding strong traces of many successful films in the so-called original ones. Industry insiders say half in jest that they are “remixes”, which pick bits from here and there.
Issue that haunts
While the industry and audience have now almost accepted the phenomenon of remakes, it is the dubbing issue that is haunting the film fraternity. The notice served by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) and four of its subsidiary organisations asked on what grounds dubbing could be opposed, following a petition filed by Karnataka Grahakara Parishat, a consumer rights forum.
While admitting that there is no legal sanctity for stopping dubbed films and serials, film industry representatives say that they were opposed to dubbing in the interest of language and people, especially workers in the industry.
Director B. Suresh of Karnataka Television Association says that a film is not a consumer product and would not come under the purview of CCI. KFCC president B.N. Vijayakumar told The Hindu that the industry would fight the issue with unity.
Meanwhile, things are not looking up on the non-mainstream films (branded art or new wave films) front either, even though they dominated national and international film circuits in the 1970s. As director P. Seshadri observes, though some of the experimental films are getting critical appreciations in film festivals held across the globe, there is not enough viewer patronage in the State.