Wondering why no big Kannada film is releasing for Sankranthi? Here’s why

For the past few years, no one else other than a confident big-budget Kannada film has been willing to take the risk during Sankranthi.

ByShashiprasad S M

Published Jan 11, 2024 | 6:30 PMUpdatedJan 11, 2024 | 6:30 PM

No big Kannada film is releasing for Sankranthi

Once upon a time, several big-budget and star-studded Kannada films were released in the past for Sankranthi aka Pongal.

Kannada actors like Crazy Star V Ravichandran would plan well ahead for the release of his big-budget films for Sankranthi. Cut to 2024, not even one big Kannada film is hitting the screens this Friday, 12 January.

This has been more or less the case with Sandalwood during Sankranthi for the past few years.

What changed the scenario is an interesting phenomenon that led to other language movies dominating the start of the festival season for the calendar year in the Kannada industry.

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The risk factor

One of the reasons is that Sankranthi is not celebrated as big in Karnataka as in other states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Also, Pongal being the major festival in Tamil Nadu, the influx of other language movies with the biggest stars in action during this time has led to the present situation.

Moreover, non-Kannada films get the preference over the maximum number of shows allotted during Sankranthi vacation.

For the past few years, no one other than a confident big-budget Kannada film has been willing to take the risk, given these circumstances.

The only relief for Kannada audiences this Sankranthi season is that of the Tamil movie Captain Miller. Yes, a Tamil movie starring Dhanush in the lead which marks the comeback of Karunada Chakravarthy Dr Shiva Rajkumar in a cameo after the heart-warming reception of his cameo role in Superstar Rajinikanth’s Jailer (2023).

Almost all major language films releasing for Sankranthi this year are dubbed in Kannada, too, including Captain Miller and Hanu-Man.

Resolution for straight films

Ever since the emergence of the pan-Indian phenomenon with Baahubali (2015 & 2017) and KGF (2018 & 2022), the South Indian industry has been releasing almost every “star” movie in multiple languages.

Meanwhile, in 2019, the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce, while addressing the escalated production expenses in Telugu films and prioritising the well-being of producers for the sustainability of the Telugu film industry, resolved that “exclusive preference be given to Telugu straight films during the festivals of Sankranthi and Dasara.”

This is another reason why big-budget Kannada films, including the “A-lister” movies to be released in multiple languages, opted out of the Sankranthi race.

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30-plus Kannada films in queue

While Challenging star Darshan’s Kaatera, which released on 29 December 2023, continues its dream run at the box office, only three Kannada films managed to release in the first week of 2024.

While 99 percent of the Kannada audience was not even aware of those three Kannada flicks, Rangasamudra is all set to hit the screens on 12 January.

It features actors Raghavendra Rajkumar and Rangayana Raghu. It is one of the films that Kannada star actor Dr Puneeth Rajkumar had shown interest in being a part of for its content.

Oscar-winning composer MM Keeravani sang an emotional number for this movie.

However, the release date of Rangasamudra was pushed to 19 January.

It is not like no Kannada films are there for release. At least 30 movies have passed the censor and are waiting in queue to hit the marquee.

On 26 January alone, not less than six Kannada films will see the light, including Bachelor Party starring Diganth and Yogi, Upadhyaksha featuring Chikkanna, Case of Kondana starring Vijay Raghavendra and Bhavana Menon, Alexa featuring Pavan Tej and Aditi Prabhudeva, Koli Esru directed by Champa Shetty, and Hadinelentu helmed by director Prithvi Konanuru.

Among these, Bachelor Party and Upadhyaksha are comedy films.

Upadhyaksha marks the debut of Chikkanna as a lead actor in a comedy role.

Rakshit Shetty is bankrolling Bachelor Party under his Paramvah Studios.

Meanwhile, Case of Kondana and Alexa are both suspense thrillers.

Related: Seven years after ‘Kirik Party’, the team will host a ‘Bachelor Party’

The solution

According to trade pundits, the only solution to the existing scenario where non-Kannada films have captured the market during Sankranthi is to give tougher competition to them by releasing big-budget star movies.

In a way, Kaatera holding on to its turf and going stronger than ever since its release will certainly impact the box office results in the coming weeks.

Another simple solution is to plan and organise the release of big-budget Kannada films like Crazy Star Ravichandran!