The proposal to set up a film city in Mysuru is expected to restore its glory as a centre of film production.
In the initial years, the Kannada film producers and artistes were struggling to produce a film. They had to then depend upon the then Madras and Bombay studios, which added to the cost and inconvenience. Mysore did not have a studio of its own or the facilities to help produce a film in the state then, although there were ample locations ideal for film shooting.
Though places like the Brindavan Gardens (Krishnarajasagar) and other locations were chosen for shooting not only by the Kannada film producers, but also by the producers of Hindi and other language films, the entire indoor shooting had to be done either in Madras or Bombay.
Some of the leading film personalities involved with Kannada and other languages’ film industry had inevitably chosen Madras as their abode, to avoid frequent travels to the metropolitan city. Despite this, the Kannada film industry produced a number of good and quality films.
Realising the struggle the industry was facing, G R Ramaiya made the maiden effort to set up a
studio in 1946. Perhaps, it was then that the Mysore state’s first studio in Saraswathipuram. Although he was a transport company owner, he ventured into the establishment of the Navajyothi Studio.
However, this studio did not survive for long, although films were produced and new actors in
Kannada cinema emerged. Financial hardship and a lack of government support those days brought the curtains down on the studio, though it had earned fame. This place lay abandoned for a long following the demise of Ramaiya and now has a private college, with no trace of the studio built by Ramaiya.
A few years later, M N Basavarajaiah, who was into the field of private insurance, launched
the Premier Studios that brought to Mysore many film producers, artistes and technicians,
avoiding their frequent visits to Madras and put Mysore on the map of country’s film production.
For over two decades, it was a beehive of film activity where quite a few popular films were produced, including in languages other than Kannada. The pro-Kannada movement that took birth then also gave an impetus to the Kannada films and film industry.
The focus partly shifted to Bengaluru with the establishment of the Kanteerava Studios in 1970. However, the tragedy during the shooting of the ‘Sword of Tipu Sultan’, a Hindi film produced and directed by Sanjay Khan in 1990, when a fire engulfed the studios and took the lives of 24 artistes and technicians, and injured many, besides destroying portions of the studio, sounded the death-knell to it. Since then, there has been very little film production activity in Mysuru.
The establishment of the film city at Ratnapuri on the city outskirts requiring about 300 acres is seen to restore Mysuru’s prominence in film production. The government’s decision will be formally announced by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah during the State film award presentation here next month, it is reported.