Kannada film industry is finally breaking the budget glass ceiling as over Rs 200 crore is riding on upcoming releases such as Kurukshetra, The Villain and KGF, which will hit the screens in the next few months. For the first time in the history of Kannada industry, films are being made on such massive budgets, and according to trade sources, the success of these films is essential because their total budget covers nearly half of the total turnover last year.
According to Naganna, director of Kurukshetra, Kannada films are no longer restricted to the audiences of Karnataka. He told Firstpost: “As an industry, we’re now being embraced universally. Our films are no longer restricted to Kannada audiences. Kurukshetra is the reinterpretation of Mahabharat from Duryodhana’s point of view. It’s a story that’ll appeal to all kinds of audiences and has elements that’ll work internationally as well. I’m not allowed to talk about its budget but I can assure that it’s being made on a lavish scale.” The industry grapevine is that Kurukshetra, featuring an ensemble cast of Ambarish, V Ravichandran, Arjun Sarja, Sneha, Meghana Raj, Bharathi Vishnuvardhan, Nikhil Gowda, Sonu Sood and Shashikumar among others, is being made on a whopping budget of Rs 75 crore. Shot predominantly in Hyderabad’s popular Ramoji Film City, the film is expected to be released in 3D.
The writer of Kurukshetra, JK Bharavi, is of the opinion that historic films always have good market value. “It’s not often that historic films get made. Naturally, when they’re made on a large scale, audiences want to come to the theatres to experience it. More than the budget, I believe it has to do with the presentation. Take Baahubali series for instance. If you keep the budget factor aside, these films were lapped up because of the overall experience. Kurukshetra will appeal to audiences universally.”
In a recent media interaction, Kurukshetra producer Muniratna said he hasn’t put a cap on the film’s budget. “We’re spending based on what the script and the film demands.”
The Villain, which has been in the making for quite a while, stars two of Kannada industry’s biggest stars — Sudeep and Shivrajkumar. Pegged at a budget of Rs 60 crore, the film marks the Kannada debut of Amy Jackson. The film also stars Mithun Chakraborty in a crucial role.
“The market has become really big. Also, thanks to streaming platforms such as Amazon and Netflix, which buy star-studded films for a whopping price, producers are willing to bet big. Films like Kurukshetra and KGF are sure to take Kannada cinema to international audiences. With these films, Kannada cinema will scale new heights,” a trade analyst told Firstpost.
Yash starrer KGF, set against the backdrop of 70’s, is rumoured to be made on a budget of Rs 80 crore. The film is expected to be released in two parts.
In an interview, Yash had said: “Big-budget films will help Kannada film industry flourish. There was a time when Sandalwood’s highest budget was Rs. 10 to 15 crore, which has tripled now. With KGF, there has been no limit placed on the budget, which will become evident once the movie is out.”
He also said big-budget films help the market grow. “When big-budget movies help the market grow, even the small-budget movies benefit from it. In a way, the trend will give us the courage to stay afloat even when other languages are doing well.”