Few Kannada films portray Dalits as protagonists, says film-maker Sairam

There is little space for new ideas in the Kannada film industry, according to maker of Dhairyam Sarvatra Sadhanam, in Belagavi

Published - July 11, 2024 09:21 pm IST - Belagavi

Film-maker Anil Raj Sairam and Dalit leaders speaking at a press conference to promote the film Dhairyam Sarvatra Sadhanam in Belagavi on Thursday.

Film-maker Anil Raj Sairam and Dalit leaders speaking at a press conference to promote the film Dhairyam Sarvatra Sadhanam in Belagavi on Thursday. | Photo Credit: P.K. Badiger

Compared to Tamil or Malayalam film industries, the Kannada film industry offers few opportunities for young directors with new ideas, film-maker Anil Raj Sairam said in Belagavi on Thursday.

He was speaking at an event to promote his debut film Dhairyam Sarvatra Sadhanam that has been inspired by a real incident of a Dalit family that suffered atrocities from the landed gentry for possessing a gun.

“The film traces the story of two generations, from 1960 to 1980, who suffer because of their self-respecting ways. But they do not suffer in silence. They fight back. Most directors do not dare to approach such a subject, but we did it,” Mr. Sairam said.

The cast includes Vivan and Anusha Rai, Yash Shetty, Vardhan Teerthahalli and others. Judah Sandhy is the music director. The film has used computer generated animation for hunting scenes in the forest.

Mr. Sairam has worked as a technician, assistant director, script and dialogue writer for 25 films so far.

“There are several new generation film-makers in Kannada who are ready to tell new stories and spread new thoughts. But the film industry does not seem to welcome them. They do not have enough opportunities. Owners of old cinemas are not cooperating in showing new wave films,” he said.

He said that after multiple requests to a multiplex operator, he could get only one show in Bengaluru. “How can we evolve as a society if we do not create opportunities for young directors like us?” he asked.

Despite the problems, the film-makers have been able to arrange 58 shows across the State. They are now planning to dub the film into Tamil and release it in Tamil Nadu.

He said that agencies running the industry like the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce and various associations did not help him. “We have been showing at places like colleges, Ambedkar Bhavans and other private venues. We have requested the State government to help us out,” he said.

To a query, he said that he did not get any good offer from the various OTT platforms to release the film.

Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party leader and Dalit ideologue Muniswamy Gopinath said that though Kannada literature embraced Dalit and Bandaya movements several decades ago, the Kannada film industry has remained away from them.

That is because of the conservative mindset of the general public in Karnataka. Awareness of social issues is high in Tamil Nadu due to the Dravidian movement and in Kerala, due to the Narayana Guru movement and Left activities. But Kannadigas have a conservative attitude towards such issues, he said.

However, there is a new-found hope of rebellion in Kannada due to the emergence of directors like Mr. Sairam, he added.

He said that Mr. Sairam belongs to the new breed of revolutionary film-makers like Pa Ranjith of the Tamil film industry. In their films, Dalits do not sit idly by and endure injustice. They give a fitting answer to those who harass them. Such films are eye openers for the youth, Mr. Gopinath said.

Writer and retired professor of history from Karnataka University Shivarudra Kallolikar said that Mr. Sairam has shown interest in adapting his novel Holageriya Rajakumara to the silver screen. This will be the real new wave in films. It is sure to change Kannada film industry forever, Prof. Kallolikar said.

Dalit leader Jeevanlatha Naduvinamani and others were present.

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