Year that was for Sandalwood

From losing veterans to grappling with the consequences of the #MeToo movement, it was a year of change for the industry
Last Updated 27 December 2018, 12:24 IST

The year 2018 was a mixed one for Sandalwood box office in terms of hits and flops, though quite a bit of action took place outside the silver screen as well. Four events stand out for their impact on the industry — the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) penalty for blocking the release of a dubbed movie, the Sruthi Hariharan-Arjun Sarja controversy as part of the MeToo campaign, the sudden demise of Ambareesh and the unprecedented opening for the Yash-starrer KGF at the national level.

Death of ‘Rebel Star’ Ambareesh
The actor died without fulfilling two of his major dreams — one of shifting back to his house at JP Nagar, currently under renovation, and of witnessing his son Abhishek’s maiden film ‘Amar’.Veterans in the industry feel that the actor’s death created a vacuum. Having stepped into the leadership role that was left vacant by thespian Dr Rajkumar’s death, Ambareesh was the go-to person whenever the industry passed through difficult times.Sandalwood insiders and experts feel that now, there is a lack of heroes with mass acceptability and leadership quality.Besides Ambareesh, actor-director Kashinath, playback singer L N Shastri and actor Kuduvalli Chandrashekhar also passed away in this year.

Sruthi Hariharan
Sruthi Hariharan

Sruthi accuses Arjun Sarja of sexual misconduct
Sandalwood witnessed multiple developments in the second half of 2018. Notable among these was the trading of charges and counter charges between Sruthi Hariharan and Arjun Sarja in the wake of the #MeToo campaign, a controversy that can determine the direction of the film industry in the new year.“Time will reveal who is the victim among the two. But the incident will be a deterrent for many in the industry who are beneficiaries of the casting couch,” remarks the mother of an artiste.“The

incident has come as a psychological relief for women who have been silent about such issues for long, besides ensuring a sort of safety,” she adds.She hopes that the probe in the case, and others like it, will see a logical end in a few months.

KGF becomes first Kannada film to enter 100 crore club within a week of release

Yash in KGF
Yash in KGF

As per business analysts, the Yash-starrer has already crossed the magical number of Rs 100 crore. It also drew the country’s attention to Sandalwood. Many in the
industry feel that the film will inspire others to make big budget movies and further expand the boundaries of the Sandalwood.

CCI cracks the whip
Another development which had a major impact is the CCI’s penalty on Jaggesh, Sa Ra Govindu, Vatal Nagaraj and Kannada Okkuta.The CCI found them guilty of violating provisions of section 3(1) and section 3(3)(b) of the Competition Act, 2002. They had blocked the release of a dubbed version of the Tamil movie ‘Sathyadev IPS’. The CCI imposed a penalty of Rs 9.7 lakh on Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, Rs 15,121 on Sa Ra Govindu and Rs 2.7 lakh on Jaggesh. After the CCI verdict, Jaggesh said that he would never speak about the issue again.

Interestingly, two dubbed movies — Dheera and Commando — flopped at the box office.Also, stalwart Shiva Rajkumar, who had a self-imposed ban on acting in remade movies, has decided to reverse his decision. He will soon be seen in ‘Kavacha’, a crime thriller which is a remake of the 2016 Malayalam film ‘Oppam’. However, KFCC president Chinne Gowda S A feels that filmmakers should focus on producing original quality Kannada films.

“Most of them fail to do their homework properly. Also, big stars should ensure the release of at least three of their movies a year,” he says.

Sandalwood success rate dips to 10%

The industry witnessed the release of over 225 films in 2018. It means an average of four films was released every Friday. However, a whopping 200 of these flopped. About 20 films managed to get back their investment, though Sandalwood registered business around Rs 500 crore as a whole. Among the particularly busy months was February, which had 23 releases, and November, which saw 27 releases. In fact, 12 films hit the screens on a single Friday in the last week. However, out of the 27, 26 flopped. Only ‘Victory-2’ enjoyed a little success.

‘Lesser theatres for Kannada films’
“Many Kannada films were released in 2018 but the theatres were less. We’ve around
400 theatres in the state, which also screen about 150 films in other languages, that hit the screen every year. FKCC should take steps to increase the number of theatres so
that justice is done to Kannada films in the coming year.”

-Rajendra Singh Babu
(Director, producer and former chairman of Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy)

Kannada films don’t make it to IFFI
None of the Kannada films were chosen for the 49th International Film Festival of India this year. However, Abhaya Simha’s Tulu film ‘Paddayi’,loosely based on William

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Shakespeare’s play ‘Macbeth, was screened in the Indian Panorama category.

Big ticket flops
Much anticipated movies, like D Sathyaprakash’s ‘Ondalla Eradalla’, the late Ambareesh’s comeback film ‘Ambi Ning Vayassaytho’ and Anup Bhandari’s ‘Rajaratha’ failed to make a mark. Director Prem’s ‘The Villain’, touted as the movie of the year, struggled to recover its
investment. An unexpected hit was S Mahesh Kumar’s ‘Ayogya’, with Neenasam Satish in the lead role. The re-release of Vishnuvardhan starrer ‘Nagarahavu’ was a hit and earned over Rs 3 crore. The year didn’t witness the release of any movies of leading stars Puneeth Rajkumar, Darshan and Dhruva Sarja which further dented the prospects of the industry.

Many stars tied the knot in 2018
Wedding bells rang for Chiranjeevi Sarja and Meghana, Diganth and Aindrita Ray and Pawan Wadeyar and Apeksha. Dhruva Sarja got engaged to his childhood friend.

(Published 27 December 2018, 11:54 IST)

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