Remembering Puttanna Kanagal on his 30th death anniversary which falls on June 5

Remembering Puttanna Kanagal on his 30th death anniversary which falls on June 5

Puttanna Kanagal was one of the early film-makers in Kannada who made “bridge” films that could neither be categorised as “art” nor as “commercial” cinema. Many among his 30 films are considered landmarks in the 80-year-old Kannada film industry. He was arguably one of the first “star” directors in a hero-driven industry.

June 5 marks his 30 death anniversary.

Born Shubraveshti Ramaswamaiah Seetharama Sharma in a small village called Kanagal in Mysore district, he was better known as Puttanna Kanagal and had many firsts to his credit. He was among the first film-makers to adapt novels into cinema and was also the first to use a steady camera. He rose from a publicity boy in the Kannada film industry to the top.

Puttanna’s films dealt with social themes and many of his films were women-centric and dared go beyond prevalent stereotypes, though there have also been strong feminist critiques on the culmination of women’s rebellion in his films. They were, nevertheless, strong characters. For example, the defiant lead character in Shubha Mangala’ describes herself as Ee shatamanada maadari hennu (the model woman of this century). Edakalluguddada Mele also had a strong female lead. His Ranganayaki was the first film to deal with Oedipus complex in Kannada films.

Besides Kannada, Puttanna also made films in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi. He always believed that form and content are more important for a film than actors. The director, he believed, is the “captain.”

Though he made remarkable films, including Belli Moda, Kappu Bilupu, Gejje Pooje, and Sharapanjara, it was Naagarahavu starring Vishnuvardhan based on the trilogy of Ta.Ra.Su which made him a star. This film was remade in to many Indian languages including as Zahrilla Insan with Rishi Kapoor in the lead in Hindi.

Assembly of Puttanna’s ‘stars’

The Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy (KCA), in association with the Information Department, is organising “Puttanna Kanagal Savinenapu” to mark Puttanna Kanagal’s 30th death anniversary at Sulochana Auditorium in Vartha Bhavan on Friday.

Actors Ambarish, Leelavathi, Jayanthi, Bharati Vishnuvardhan, Srinath, S. Shivaram, Ashok, Jai Jagadish, Arathi, Padma Vasanthi, Ramakrishna, and Aparna, whose careers took a new turn after being cast in his films by Puttanna, are participating in the programme and share their experience of working with the master film-maker.

Photographs of Puttanna by Pragati Ashwathanarayana will be displayed at the venue. This exhibition will be a journey down memory lane for those who love Puttanna’s works. A documentary produced by the Information Department on the director will also be screened on the occasion.

Director K.S.L. Swamy (Ravee), writer Dr. Vijaya and S.V. Rajendra Singh Babu will speak on Puttanna’s life and works.
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