Since Dr. Rajkumar retired and Vishnuvardhan turned above 50 and Ambareesh vanished into the world of Politics – the Kannada Industry completely stopped growing.
The Kannada Film Industry
Sandalwood produced around 150 films a year. But for these films, there was no big market beyond Karnataka and the success ratio got low and a large percentage of films failed to recover the cost. Lack of adequate promotion, weak storyline, and small budget production damaged the industry.
According to reports available on the internet, Film incomes of Tamil Nadu are close to Rs 1030 crore. Andhra Pradesh generates incomes of Rs 1020 crore. Meanwhile, Kerala and Karnataka generate moderate revenues of Rs 150 crore and Rs 140 crore, respectively. Till 2017, of the total revenue in South India, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have shares of 44% and 43% respectively. Kerala and Karnataka followed with shares of 7% and 6% respectively.
The impact of Dr. Raj
In the early years, most Kannada films were folk and mythological-based themes. It was only after the 50s that socially relevant topics were made.
The impact of Dr. Rajkumar was a great turning point in the history of the Kannada Industry and along with him a number of actors took the Kannada films to the height of glory during the 1950s and 1960s. But the ’60s turned out to be the golden era of the Kannada film industry, as offbeat movies became popular and Kannada movie makers slowly moved away from mythology to socially relevant issues, trying to capture the audience.
In those days films like Shankar Guru, Sampathige Savaal, Bangaarada Manushya, Satya Harishchandra, and Kaviratna Kalidasa had almost three crore footfalls all over Karnataka. Surprisingly, at that time, 70% of the population in Karnataka use to watch Kannada movies in theaters.
In those Days 70% population of Karnataka use to Watch Kannada Movies in Theaters..
— 'Kannadigas Center' ಕನ್ನಡಿಗರ ಕೇಂದ್ರ (@Kannadigacentre) March 2, 2020
The reason is quite convincing, as modes of entertainment were less and cinema quality was good, people marched to the nearby theaters. Above all the other reasons, earlier then even the small towns had theatres which are missing today.
Talking about Dr. Raj’s supremacy, the stardom which Rajkumar enjoyed is incomparable. Though NTR and Shivaji Ganesan had an equal fanbase in Andhra Pradesh, their stardom saw a fall when they entered politics. Also, today’s young audience in Tamil and Telugu has no craze for their legendary actors. But in Karnataka, even the youngest are Annavru fans. And this will continue for centuries to come because Dr. Rajkumar is a hero beyond cinema