Sunday, January 22, 2006

Remaking Karnataka

People have been writing about this till they went blue in the face but nothing seems to be making a difference. And why should it? It is like dowry. As long as there are people ready to give, there will be more people drooling to accept. I have been to many sources both online and offline regarding this issue and I can’t really come to a conclusion. The reason why I needed to vent this out is so that others who agree or disagree with me can plug in their two cents about the same.

The issue at hand is the ‘remake-fever’ that has flooded Kannada movie industry in the past few years. Movies and India are like Siamese twins. If you remove one from the other chances are both will die or suffer from major consequences. The social fabric that holds India together has a lot to be thankful to her movies. Quoted as the largest producer of feature films in the world, India is slowly but surely gaining her well deserved place in the international scene. People’s lives are influenced by movies in India. Trends are set and a social awareness is brought about. I wonder if most of the producers and directors realize this at all since their movies certainly do not seem to take care of this parameter. A good amount of movies released every year in Karnataka are remakes of their southern or other counterparts. What makes this situation worse is almost all of these ‘Kannada versions’ are declared super hits. This, thus, becomes one vicious never ending cycle of ‘derived creativity’.

Things were not always like this you know. Growing up I had my share of some excellent and original cinema in Kannada. Movies like ‘Muttina Haara’, ‘Sharapanjara’, ‘Belli Moda’, ‘Naagarahaavu’ are just a few that cross my mind. Movies that not only spoke about the social disrepair that plagued the society but also created unforgettable characters in ‘Ramachari’ and his spiritual guide ‘Meshtru’. Scenes of a harmless old man falling from a steep in an attempt to save his student do not leave you. Scenes of a frustrated Kalpana tearing off a couch with her teeth as her helpless and pathetic husband watches in despair narrates a woman’s fight against her inner and outer demons. Scenes of a mother who has just lost her child to war runs to dig him up from his grave as her heartbroken husband comforts here bring a tear to your eye.

These scenes depicted people who are like you and me. They told us stories that were homegrown and came directly from the heart of a storyteller who wanted to share with us his/her self. This…was what Kannada movies were made of and hence are etched in our hearts for as long as we live. Now tell me how many such movies you can recall in the last five years. Too hard? I will make it easier for you. Last three years. Oh! Still no good? No problem. How about just last year? One? Two? None? Is it me or do you also see the sad state of pool we all dwell in?

We cannot blame the producers for their greed. They are people who want to make a living and if it means polishing off a ‘readymade script’ from a successful movie then so be it! We cannot even blame the directors and music team for the same reason. They don’t know any better so why call them the bad guys? An easy entity to be blamed here could be the actors themselves. They get paid crores of rupees to play the exact the same role that someone else did just a few months ago. What saddens me is the so called ‘legends’ of today’s cinema publicly declaring that they do not mind doing remake movies. Why should they? They do not have a choice. Either do a remake movie or sit home watching your old ones. They opt for the one that pays. Their argument is “Why should our people be denied the joy other people got in their language?” The less I react to this attitude the better.

WE – are the real culprits in this situation. In fact we are pretending to be ignorant (since I know for a fact that we are not) to such an extent that we now look forward to which movie is being remade as a Kannada movie. We proclaim without even a blink that the current super hit in Kannada was remade from the movie XYZ in ABC language. I am glad legends like Puttana Kanagal are not around to be part of this catastrophe since it would be an insult to those great people.

What irks me about this scene is that some ‘true-blue Kannadigas’ on the one hand are yelling at the top of their lungs that Kannada and its culture is vanishing from the state. On the other hand they are the ones dancing at the 100 days party of a remade movie. Can we possibly be more hypocritical? If we are to call ourselves truly patriotic about our state and land, then stop watching these remade movies. Stop shelling out our hard earned money to these cheap and shameless movie makers who are taking us for a ride without our own knowledge! Stop embarrassing ourselves in front of the nation by being a ‘remake chitra’ naaDu instead of hemmeya karunaaDu. Only then, will that starving creative writer, who roams the streets of Chamarajapet with a wet towel on his head looking for a producer or a director, find true justice. Only then will those nameless faces who sit in the dark waiting for a revolution come forward and give us one more Ramachari and one more memorable moment in Kannada cinema. Only then will the true step towards ‘saving our state and culture’ begin. Until then all one we can continue doing is blame non Kannadigas on the one hand and keep inviting non Kannada cinema on the other. We definitely got our priorities straight. (?)

Another argument to this can be “What do you expect people to do if that is the only Kannada movie option they have?” Fair enough. The only expectation from people in that case would be to take a strong hold, and to reaffirm my original stand, boycott such movies. Munnabhai MBBS became BDMS, SSLC, PUC and finally just plain BS. And that is just because we have learnt to live with it. One gets used to the darkness if there is no light around. Unfortunately in this case, the light is not outside….but within each one of us.

In conclusion, this issue probably has more questions than answers. If we are looking forward to a bright future for Kannada, then we have no other option except reflecting on our past. No branch will ever grow to dizzying heights if it does not acknowledge the root that holds it there. If we are not part of the solution, then we are part of the problem. In this case quite possibly the problem itself.


2 reflections:

Murmi said...

I had written a detailed comment on this...and I lost it as Blogger was under maintenance so in short the essence of what I intended to write yesterday.

You have put a well argued case against remake in Kannada film industry (KFI). As with anything there are ups and downs. And KFI is no exception to it. It has seen its golden days as you put it and also was going through a bad phase. Definately over last year KFI has seen a turn around (refer's recent writeup on the same). All hit movies of last year have been swamakes - jogi, mental manja, deadly soma, nenapirali to name a few.

What is happen is the taste of general public/movie goers has definately degraded over past few years. As you had written matadana (one eg. but many others are there of such instances) was a excellent movie with a strong story and well made at levels of cinema making - but was a failure at box office. Whom do you blame here. If you want to vent your anger at degarding quality of kannada cinema, cinegoers should get the majority share of it. My two cents.

shakri said...

Thanks for the review here Muraly. I agree. A good share of why things have gone downhill is due to cinegoers indifference towards good and clean cinema. But the same cinegoers also take the blame for making remakes and mindless scripts successful, isn't it? It hurts to see intelligent and well rounded individuals like Kannadigas being taken for a ride by these 'creative' producers. I think we all deserve better. We can always keep passing the buck around, but what while we do that we also have to start appreciating original movies.