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It's been a roller-coaster for 40 years

Raviprasad Kamila

Returns have not been encouraging for producers


MANGALORE: A letter by the Karnataka Tulu Sahitya Academy to the Union Home Minister five years ago records that Tulu was the first offshoot of South Indian Dravidian language family about 2,000 years ago.

In the letter of February 3, 2006, the then president of the academy M.K. Sitharam Kulal wrote that Tuluvas were mentioned in Tamil Sangam literature of second century A.D. A Greek drama of second century B.C. known as Charition records Tulu words spoken by local characters of coastal Karnataka, it said.

The letter was in connection with demand for inclusion of Tulu in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. Judging by the ancientness of Tulu, it appears not many Tulu feature films — numbering around 40 till date — have been produced.

According to Chitrabharathi 35, a souvenir published by Chitrabharathi, a film production and distribution agency here in 2006, the first Tulu feature film Enna Tangady was produced in 1970. It was released at Jyothi theatre here on February 19, 1971. T.A. Srinivas, founder of Chitrabharathi, financed the film which was directed and produced by S.R. Rajan. The latest Tulu feature film to hit the theatres is Kanchilda Bale in this March. Two more feature films Oriyardori Asal and Beere Devupoonje are likely to hit the theatres soon.

Mr. Srinivas says he invested Rs. 35,000 for the first Tulu film and lost Rs. 20,000. As the film was technically not sound it was not a hit in the box office. According to the souvenir, the film was screened for two weeks. Its director Mr. Rajan however was Kodava not from this region.

Dareda Budedi produced by K.N. Taylor was the second feature film released in 1971. It was screened for eight weeks at Roopavani theatre.

Koti Chennaya (1973) directed by late Vishu Kumar was the first history-based Tulu cinema. It was screened for 100 days at Jyothi theatre.

Tulu and Kannada scholar B.A. Vivek Rai wrote the famous Ekkasaka ekkasaka ekkasakkala song for this film.

Says Mr. Kulal: “Koti Chennaya should be remembered for liveliness of the story, literature and songs.'' According to Chitrabharathi, the first Tulu colour film Kariyani Kattandi Kandani was produced in 1978 by Aroor Bhimarao. Bisatti Babu produced in 1972 was the first film to receive the State government award as the best Tulu film. Bangar Patler produced in 1993 by Richard Castelino has bagged the highest national and international awards. It was screened for 105 days at Jyothi theatre.

What is ailing Tulu cinema industry? “It is groupism,” says Mr. Kulal who has penned popular songs like Mokeda Singari Untude Vayyari and Pakkilu Mooji Onje Goodudu for Pagetha Puge film released in 1972. “Tulu film-makers should come out of it and give scope for real talent. It will help produce quality films,” he said. “Financial returns for investment in Tulu cinemas also mattered while discussing why more Tulu cinemas have not been produced,” said Mr. Kulal. “Tulu cinemas are cultural asset of more than a crore Tulu-speaking people,” says Vamana Nandavara, former president of the Tulu academy.

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