Four landmark literary works of U.R. Ananthamurthy have been adapted into celluloid.
His first novel Samskara was made into a film in 1970. A team of brilliant minds in the fields of theatre, cinema, literature and art put their heads together for the venture. It was directed by Pattabhi Rama Reddy; playwright Girish Karnad played the lead; cameraman was Australian Tom Cowan; and the editor was Stevan Cartaw. The film faced stiff opposition from the Madhwa Brahmin community in Karnataka, and also met with resistance from the censors. Yet, it won critical and popular fame.
Girish Kasaravalli directed Ghatashraddha in 1977, his first feature film based on Dr. Ananthamurthy’s eponymous novel. The film won three awards at the National Film Awards. It is the only Indian film that was chosen by the National Archives of Paris for the centenary celebrations of Indian cinema. Arun Kaul made a Hindi film of this movie, called Diksha in 1991, starring Nana Patekar, which bagged several international awards.
M.S. Sathyu adapted his novel Bara starring Ananth Nag, C.R. Simha and Loveleen Madhu in 1980. The film was an incisive analysis of the socio-political situation in a drought-affected district. The Hindi version of the film, Sookha, was released in 1983.
Krishna Masadi directed Avasthe in 1987, broadly based on the life of socialist leader Gopala Gowda, who was Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly. Political leaders including J.H. Patel, D.B. Chandre Gowda and M.P. Prakash acted in the film. B.S. Lingadevaru directed Mouni based on Dr. Ananthamurthy’s novella in 2006, starring Anantnag and it bagged the national award.
There are several documentaries made on him, such as those made by Abhay Simha, Krishna Masadi and Hariharan. Mr. Kasaravalli recently made Ananthamurthy - Not a Documentary, But a Hypothesis .
A few of Dr. Ananthamurthy’s literary works were adapted to theatre. Actor-director Prakash Belawadi adapted Avasthe in 2003. This 105-minute play was in English. Endendoo Mugiyada Kathe, directed by theatre personality S.R. Ramesh, is a landmark production based on short stories and novels of Dr. Ananthamurthy.