Film City 'Sandalwood' all set to roll in Mysuru

Movies shot here to boost tourism too

‘Sandalwood’, the proposed Film City on the outskirts of Mysuru, may start functioning shortly as a couple of sets on the 110 acres of Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) land have been identified at Himmavu village.

The land has already been laid well for the recently-concluded 17th national jamboree of the Bharat Scouts and Guides.

Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy Chairman S V Rajendra Singh Babu told reporters here recently that plans are afoot to build a compound for the sanctioned land and to erect a couple of sets to facilitate shooting. The government is yet to sanction funds for the construction of the film city.

“Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, under whose Varuna Assembly constituency the land of the film city falls, is expected to make an announcement about the Film-Tourism policy in the Budget to kickstart the project. The project has already been handed over to the Tourism department and it is an ambitious project of the State government,” he said.

“With 16 palaces in Mysuru city itself and 257 identified shooting locations within a radius of 80 km from the city in Mysuru, Mandya, Hassan, Chamarajanagar and Kodagu districts, the city is best suited for film shooting. New Zealand was not prominent on the tourist circuit till the release of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ in 2001 but after the film’s release, tourism in New Zealand shot by 300% in just a year. While tourist spots in and around Mysuru will get prominence as films will be shot here, the films will in turn give a boost to tourism by promoting the locations,” he said.

Director of Information and Public Relations department N R Vishukumar said that film activities began in Mysuru with the production of silent films.

“There have been many producers, directors, actors and technicians of national and international fame from Mysuru including Sabu Dastagir, who went on to become a Hollywood actor, cinematographer V K Murthy, who worked for Guru Dutt and other legends, filmmakers G V Iyer, Kanagal Prabhakara Shastry, Puttannna Kanagal, Hunasuru Krishnamurthy, actors Vishnuvardhan, Dwarkish, K S Ashwath and Ambarish, musician P Kalinga Rao, editor Suresh Urs, producer Pitilu Chowdaiah and academy chairman Babu himself, WHOSE father was D Shankar Singh, the founder of Mahathma Films,” he said.

Between 1929 and 1933, 55 silent films were made in Mysuru and Bengaluru. They were screened throughout India with many of them having Hindi or English names. The first film made in Mysuru was in 1929, ‘Raj Hriday’ or ‘Heart of a King’. The same year, a producer from Bombay named Mohan Dayaram Bhavanani made the silent film ‘Mrichakatika’. The actors in the film included father of modern Kannada plays T P Kailasam, who lived in Mysuru. Subbaiah Naidu, the first hero of Kannada talkies ‘Sati Sulochana’, released in 1934, has his roots in Mysuru. ‘Jeevana Nataka’ of Kemparaja Urs, a native of Kalahalli in Hunsur taluk, was released in 1942. Navajyoti Studio by G R Ramaiah, an industrialist and transport company owner, was established in 1946. Premier Studio by M N Basavarajaiah, a former banker and insurance company proprietor, was established in 1954.

Over 1,000 movies of all stars in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s of all South Indian languages and even Hindi including M G Ramachandran, Dr Rajkumar, Shivaji Ganeshan, Jayalalitha, Dharmendra and Rajanikanth have been shot in Premier Studio.

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