Karthik Gowda: Kannada cinema lacking in consistency

Watch | Karthik Gowda: Kannada cinema lacking in consistency

Karthik Gowda, producer-distributor from KRG Studios, talks about the various projects from his banner and explains why the Kannada film industry has blown hot and cold in the last two years

Updated - May 22, 2024 11:30 am IST

Published - May 18, 2024 02:15 pm IST

Karthik Gowda, founder of the production and distribution company KRG Studios, is passionate about making new-generation films in Kannada. Having donned the responsibility of the executive producer at Hombale Films for pan-Indian hits such as KGF: Chapter 1 , KGF: Chapter 2 and Kantara, Karthik has now shifted his focus entirely to KRG Studios.

Film producer and distributor Karthik Gowda

Film producer and distributor Karthik Gowda | Photo Credit: N Ravichandran.

The banner’s maiden project was the emotional coming-of-life-cum-family drama Rathnan Prapanchastarring Dhananjaya and Umashree. After receiving praise for its debut film, KRG Studios bankrolled Gurudev Hoysala, a fast-paced cop drama with a social message.

The distributor-producer spoke to The Hindu on the progress of the Kannada industry in the last couple of years, the challenges faced by the industry, and what to expect from his banner.

Excerpts from the conversation:

Could you tell us about the upcoming projects from KRG Studios?

First up is the Kannada movie Powder, set to release on July 12. We are excited about this collaboration with TVF, who wanted to get into feature films after making a mark in the online space. It’s a new-age comedy caper. KRG and TVF want to do movies for young adults in the future. We have also announced a Tamil movie with Anjali Menon; we are all fans of her, and this movie is a slice-of-life drama, something she is so good at.

Then there is a project with Sudeep sir, who is returning to direction after a decade. When we cracked an exciting idea, he was ready to do it. He was looking for a director, but we felt he was the right person for it. His technical finesse is much better than many in the industry. It’s too early to talk about the movie, but I can confidently say it’s a film that will celebrate Sudeep sir.

Finally, we are excited about Uttarakaanda. It’s a two-part crime drama to be shot in North Karnataka. From managing a host of notable actors (Dhananjaya, Shivarajkumar, Aishwarya Rajesh, Chaithra J Achar, Achyuth Kumar) to handling huge crowds that would gather around our sets every day, to understanding the dialect of the region, everything about the project has been challenging so far. If we pull off what is on paper, this will be turn out to be a film that KRG Studios will forever be proud of.

ALSO READ:KRG Studios collaborates with TVF for a film

The poster of ‘Powder’ starring Diganth Manchale.

The poster of ‘Powder’ starring Diganth Manchale. | Photo Credit: karthik_krg/Instagram

As a production house, what’s that one thing KRG Studios expects from filmmakers?

We love to read scripts before finalising projects, however, many Kannada filmmakers hesitate to send in their scripts. They are ready to pitch an idea and then work on the script. We don’t work that way; the think-tank team at KRG Studios likes to read the scripts and then take things forward. Even if you don’t have a bound script, you must send a draft that explains the film. Filmmakers from other industries send the script as soon as we demand it.

Do you think Kannada cinema has failed to capitalise on the success of ‘KGF’ and ‘Kantara’?

Yes, and the reason for it is the lack of consistency! Everybody has to take the blame, including me. Last year (2023) wasn’t great for Kannada, though we got a few gems. When the bar is set high, it becomes a challenge to meet expectations. I always believe that a good film will always find its audience. Several times, a small Kannada film has emerged as a box-office success against mighty non-Kannada movies, like how RangiTaranga enjoyed a great run amidst the dominance of Baahubali and Bajrangi Bhaijaan. So, one can’t blame competition from other industries. The key is to position your film well to ensure that it is visible widely.

Karthik Gowda with actor Sudeep.

Karthik Gowda with actor Sudeep. | Photo Credit: karthik_krg/Instagram

Exhibitors and producers complain that Kannada stars don’t do more than one film yearly. Why is that?

Most south Indian films don’t stick to their deadlines and hamper the calendar of the exhibitors, who plan for an entire year by blocking their dates for those big movies. It won’t be right on my part to talk about why some of the most anticipated Kannada films have taken a lot of time for production. But stars can and must do more than one film a year. Filmmakers must plan their shoots wisely and stick to their schedules. For instance, a superstar like Vijay in Tamil does two movies in 15 months. His last release, Leo, was shot between 125 and 180 days. That’s a great record, considering it wasn’t an easy film to pull off.

Amidst the pan-India wave, Kannada filmmakers have forgotten to make movies for the local audience...

I agree. To impress the non-Kannada audience, you are losing your regular audience. Maybe filmmakers are eyeing that extra money that comes with pan-Indian movies. But a film like Kantara was made for the local audience. Even in Karnataka, many didn’t know about the cultural significance seen in the movie. Yet, it did wonders because the film was in Kannada. Only after its success in Karnataka did it do well across the country. So, your local audience becomes your priority. They will ensure the non-Kannada audience aware of good Kannada movies through word-of-mouth on social media.

ALSO READ:Ramya opts out of Dhananjaya starrer ‘Uttarakaanda’

Dhananjaya in ‘Uttarakaanda’.

Dhananjaya in ‘Uttarakaanda’. | Photo Credit: Anand Audio/YouTube

As a producer, have you found a solution for Kannada cinema’s OTT conundrum?

I think it’s just a phase, and this situation won’t last for too long. Also, streaming platforms must appoint someone who knows the local market, so that he or she can pick movies at the right price. A great film might get sold to a decent number, while a mediocre movie could get sold for a huge amount. It happens because people from the streaming platforms don’t know what works for the local audience.

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