For more than four decades, the Kannada film industry has been longing for a film city of its own. In fact, it was Karnataka which came up with the idea to build a film city in the country.
Ironically, it is yet to have one despite several film cities having been established and operating elsewhere in other states.
With the Congress government — led by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah — coming into power, the previously proposed plan for a film city at Immavu in the Mysuru district is back in the news.
After multiple attempts in the previous regimes, the then government headed by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa sanctioned around 110 acres of land at Immavu in the Mysuru district on a lease, with a budgetary allocation of ₹500 crore.
However, it remained on paper, especially after talks and the announcement that it will be moved to Ramanagara and Bengaluru.
Mysuru best for Chitranagari
Now, a group of noted filmmakers, including those who are the recipients of State and National Film Awards, have come together, are urging the state government to establish the film city in Mysuru. They claim that Mysuru is an apt location for film-related activities and it also hugely benefits tourism.
“A lot of film personalities who dreamt of a film city in Karnataka are no more. It’s an almost 40-50 years old phenomenon. Every time there was a good start to it, it would somehow end up nowhere,” SV Rajendra Singh Babu told the media on Wednesday, 7 June.
“Since the land has been allocated and even budgetary allocations are complete and waiting for final clearance, it would be just and beneficial for the industry to further proceed with the film city plan in Mysuru,” he asserted.
Mysuru has always been the first choice for many renowned filmmakers and actors. The likes of Raj Kapoor, V Shantaram, MG Ramachandran, Mani Ratnam, and Rajinikanth repeatedly came to the city for its aesthetic value and apt conditions for film shooting, Rajendra Singh Babu pointed out.
250-plus locations near Mysuru
As to why Mysuru city is suitable for “Chitranagari”, the filmmakers answer that there are no less than 250 plus natural locations present near Mysuru which makes it the best choice.
Director P Sheshadri says, “There are so many palaces, and in fact, it has the highest number of palaces in a city in India, including the popular Mysuru main palace, Lalit Mahal palace, where numerous shootings have taken place till date.”
“The villages around, water bodies, rivers including Krishna Raja Sagara Dam (KRS) and much more are just a stone’s throw away from Mysuru. That’s not all, now one can reach Mysuru from Bengaluru in less than 90 minutes using the expressway.” He further adds.
Demand to name it “Wadiyar Film City”
Meanwhile, a lot has also been debated over naming the Chitranagari (film city), once it comes up.
Senior director SV Rajendra Babu opined that it should be named “Wadiyar Film City”. It was Sri Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV, the 24th Maharaja of Mysore who first brought filmmaking equipment from London.
Since the mechanism was new and complicated to operate, the Maharaja got the concerned team from London and even got a drama shot for a test. In a way, he was the first to kickstart the Kannada film industry, he explained.
The filmmakers also formed a housing society named after “Gandhadagudi”, meaning Sandalwood, referring to the Kannada film industry.
“When film city comes up, it will provide job opportunities and livelihood to thousands of people in the industry. Hence, we formed an association. So far, 654 members enrolled themselves with the association.” said director BS Lingadevaru.
“Along with 20-plus requisitions, we intend to seek government land next to the proposed film city in Mysore. It is for members to make use of the land to build houses and other basic amenities for them to thrive,” he further added.
Submitting its memorandum to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, the association members urged the government to build mini-theatres and mentioned other issues like simplifying processes in government offices when it comes to movie making and exhibitions.
“No where in south India, the ticket price is more than ₹150. Movie ticket prices are exorbitantly high, especially in multiplex cinemas, only in Karnataka,” director Krishnegowda averred.
No confusion please
Finally, the filmmakers urged the industry people not to create any more confusion and let the film city come up in Mysuru.
“Let there be three-four film cities in that case like Bengaluru, Ramanagara, Mangaluru and Mysuru. The more places, the better the facilities,” they opined.
“But let the government first build one which it has already sanctioned land for. Even the budgetary allocations are done with one last signature to be signed,” they added.