Year-ender: A quick look at major controversies that rocked Kannada film industry in 2023

From Darshan and Ramya to Kiccha Sudeep and Upendra, a few Sandalwood actors made headlines in 2023 for the wrong reasons.

ByShashiprasad S M

Published Dec 27, 2023 | 2:21 PMUpdatedDec 30, 2023 | 2:18 PM

Many controversies shook the Kannada film industry in 2023

After reeling under pandemic situations, the Kannada film industry finally started to bounce back to normalcy. However, elections to the Karnataka State Assembly in 2023 kept the Sandalwood quiet for some time.

Amidst political heat and a few big-budget projects finally making it to the silver screens, the audience also witnessed some of the controversies emerging out of the Kannada film industry in 2023.

Let’s take a quick look at the major controversies that made it to the top of the news this year.

Rachita Ram’s Republic Day remark

Shortly after a miscreant threw a slipper at Kannada star actor Darshan during the promotion of Kranti in Hosapete, actor Rachita Ram — the leading lady of the film — faced backlash for purportedly making offensive remarks about the Republic Day.

She reportedly said, “Every year we celebrate Republic Day. But this time let’s forget it and celebrate the festival of Kranti.”

Related: Complaint filed against actor Rachita Ram for remarks about Republic Day

Darshan & Bar-headed geese

controversies kannada industry 2023

Actor Darshan. (Screengrab)

Just before actor Rachita Ram faced criticism, Darshan, who was back then the brand ambassador of the Karnataka Forest Department and a member of the Karnataka State Board of Wildlife faced trouble for a different reason.

The forest department raided the actor’s farmhouse near T Narsipur and seized four Bar-headed geese, alleging that Darshan possessed them in violation of the law.

Darshan & dog bite

Challenging Star Darshan was yet again in the news for all the wrong reasons. This time, a lady filed a complaint stating that she was bitten by the two pet dogs belonging to the actor.

Darshan was called by the Bengaluru police for questioning.

Related: Sandalwood actor Darshan, his pet dogs’ caretaker booked after the canines attacked, bit a 48-year-old woman

Uri Gowda-Nanje Gowda shelved

Following the political slugfest over the fictional characters — Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda, the then Karnataka minister and a leading Kannada film industry Munirathna announced that he was making a film based on the two characters.

An advertisement issued by Munirathna announced that a film titled Uri Gowda-Nanje Gowda would be made under his banner Vrishabhadri Productions.

However, he soon declared that he had shelved the project to not hurt the sentiments of the concerned community.

Related: Producer-Minister Munirathna shelves ‘Uri Gowda-Nanje Gowda’ film after meeting Adichunchanagiri Matha seer

Kiccha Sudeep Vs MN Kumar

Kiccha Sudeep controversies kannada industry 2023

Actor Kiccha Sudeep. (X)

A sequence of events unfolded when Kannada film producer MN Kumar, known for financing films starring Kiccha Sudeep, publicly accused the actor of avoiding him for eight years after receiving remuneration.

It led to a series of allegations, prompting actor-director Kiccha Sudeep to file a defamation case against producers MN Kumar and MN Suresh.

Kiccha Sudeep clarified his stance, stating he would pursue justice through the legal system, expressing dissatisfaction with the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce for entertaining allegations without scrutinising the facts.

A Bengaluru court even issued orders prohibiting the two producers from making any defamatory statements against the actor and his family. Even as the matter is pending before the court, the controversy is likely to haunt everyone for a while.

Related: Kannada producers MN Kumar and NM Suresh restrained from making defamatory statements against Kiccha Sudeep & family

Ramya Vs Hostel Hudugaru Bekagiddare

In an interesting turn of events, actor-turned-politician Ramya took the makers of the Kannada film Hostel Hudugaru Bekagiddare to the court.

She alleged that the makers unauthorisedly used her video clips in both the trailer and the movie.

In her petition, she asserted that despite explicitly and categorically denying consent, the makers used video clips featuring her in both the trailer and the main film.

Initially, the court stayed the release but later vacated its order while clearing hurdles for the release of the film.

Related: Ramya approaches court against ‘Hostel Hudugaru Bekagiddare’ makers for unauthorised use of her video clips

Ramya is dead!

Actor Ramya was again in the limelight but for a bizarre reason. Confusion sparked a fake news story about the passing away of Ramya, who is also known as Divya Spandana.

The misinformation stemmed from a mix-up involving the name “Spandana” where a PRO from the Tamil film industry confused it with the death news of the late Spandana Raghavendra, wife of Vijay Raghavendra, who passed away in Bangkok on August 7 due to a massive cardiac arrest at the age of 44.

Related: Bizarre: Confusion leads to spread of fake news about Ramya

Ramya’s maiden production faces hurdles

Divya Spandana aka Ramya

Actor Ramya aka Divya Spandana. (X)

Actor Ramya who turned producer with her maiden venture titled Swathi Mutthina Male Haniye, faced legal hurdles after veteran director Rajendra Singh Babu claimed the title of the film.

However, a Bengaluru court ruled in favour of the Ramya eventually paved for the release of the film.

Director SV Rajendra Singh Babu filed a case on the ground that he had exclusive ownership of the film’s title under Intellectual Property Rights, contending that no other party could use it without his prior permission.

Related: Swathi Mutthina Male Haniye: Bengaluru court restrains use of movie title

Upendra faces legal trouble

Multi-talented filmmaker-politician Upendra landed himself in trouble after his controversial casteist remarks made during a Facebook live programme.

Though he did issue an apology, several FIRs were registered against him in the matter. He then approached the Karnataka High Court, which has stayed all the FIRs in the matter.

Related: Actor Upendra booked in 2 cases of atrocities; Karnataka High Court stays proceedings

Bigg Boss Kannada & tiger claw

Following the arrest of Bigg Boss Kannada reality show contestant Varthur Santhosh, several celebrities in the Kannada film industry were issued notices from authorities over the tiger claws.

Such notices were issued based on photographs and videos seen on social media showing the celebrities flaunting jewellery with tiger claws.

Actors like Darshan, Jaggesh, and Nikhil Kumaraswamy were asked to explain the same.

The contestant, Varthur Santhosh, was later released on bail. He then joined the reality show.

Related: Swapping fakes with real tiger-claw pendants? Officials suspect foul play by celebrities after Kannada Bigg Boss contestant’s arrest