Antha, the Ambareesh starrer of three decades ago, is all set for a re-release. It is one among the many films that is expected to have a successful re-run

It is an established fact that heroes are the quintessential essence of cinema in India and Kannada cinema is no different, considering the stars domination over the makers. Stars of yesteryears are still an attraction for the audience and sometimes they help the screens to attract audience when present-day artistes fail in drawing crowd. At a time when the Kannada film industry is producing over 230 plus films, dubbed versions of other language films thronging existing screens, exhibitors still cribbing about theatres not filling to the brim, it is re-releases of old classics that are coming to their rescue.

Antha came under censor’s scissors

  • Antha, directed by S V Rajendra Singh Babu which exposed nexus between the underworld and politician for the first time in Kannada cinema, created a history of sorts not only in the history of Kannada cinema, but also in terms of long drawn battle with the censor board. The film, which gave a new image to Ambareesh.
  • The film got Karnataka State Film Awards for best screenplay-Rajendra Singh Babu, Best Cinematographer-P. S. Prakash besides special award for Ambareesh for his best performance in 1982
  • Antha-a film based on the novel of H K Anantha Rao, (which was serialised in Kannada weekly magazine, which exposes the nexus of underworld and politicians) produced by H N Maruthi and directed by S V Rajendra Singh Babu created a history of sorts not only in the history of Kannada cinema, but also in terms of long drawn battle in court and censor board. The film, which gave a new image to Ambarish and catapulted him to stardom stuck in court and censor board for nearly four years. From the day, it was premièred, the general sense was that, it will be difficult for the makers to get Censor clearance.
  • However, after suggesting certain cuts for the scenes, which allegedly glorified violence, Censor Board permitted to release Antha in 1981. It had become difficult for the theatre owners to control cine goers, who were thronging screens like never before, because of the publicity given in those days. Houseful Board in front of every theatre, the film was screened was a regular phenomenon for the first three weeks and Antha broke all the box office records. Sensing something wrong with, a special officer from the Censor Board from Madras, watched the film at a regular show in a theatre. He complained to the authorities in New Delhi that, it was not the film they had certified and producers have inserted some of the scene, which was not shown during the Censor certification. Shocked authorities directed the Deputy Commissioner Bengaluru to seize the prints from four theatres.
  • Film makers Babu and Maruthi approached the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi making use of their political connections. Indira Gandhi asked the, then Minister for Information and Broadcasting to intervene. As a result, the Censor Board retracted. However, Deputy Commissioner refused to hand over the prints, seized to the producers. The producer approached the Court and appealed to direct the DC to return the print. Despite court intervention, DC refused to abide by the order. The judge who was hearing the case told the DC in strict terms that, he would vacate the seat only after official handing over the prints to the producer and delivered a 78-page verdict.
  • By this time, the issue rocked the Parliament and some elected representatives objected for the producer screening the film, while stopped in Bengaluru. Again Censor Board asked the authorities to stop screening in the city and elsewhere in the State. Without any option filmmaker’s again approached the court. Finally, it was filmmakers who had the last laugh.
  • The producer H.N Maruthi had a different version. According to him the script was submitted to the Censors and examining committee suggested eight cuts before issuing a certificate. He asserted that; they have not interpolated the scenes censored as being alleged. They were determined to fight to prove that wrong.
  • In a panel discussion on censorship of films at Bengaluru International Film Festival, the Babu, recounted how his films Antha and Muttina Haara (1990) faced hurdles at Censor Board. “My film, Antha was cleared by the censors, but, after its release, the government felt the film opposed to it and later butchered it. The film was eventually banned after 13 weeks at theatres.”
  • “Antha will be released 7.1 Dolby Digital sound and technology, in cinemascope,” says Venugopal.

Birthdays of yesteryear actors have now become an opportunity for the producers to release old classics in new technological format, in terms of sound and colour through digitalisation.

Following the success of classics of Dr. Rajkumar, Vishnuvardhan, Shankar Nag, Devaraj, producer K.C. Venugopal, producer of Antha (starring Ambareesh), which created a history of sorts in Kannada cinema 38 years ago, is all set to re-release the film in a new format. Venugopal wanted to release the film May 29 to mark the 67th birthday of Ambareesh. “As Ambareesh’s son’s much-awaited Amar is releasing on that day and his mother Sumalatha Ambareesh’s Daughter of Parvathamma released on May 24, we have decided to release Antha on June 7”, says Venugopal.

Satya Harischandra, Kasturi Nivasa, Raja Nanna Raja, Nanobba Kalla, Operation Diamond Rocket, Daari Tappida Maga, Babruvhana and Mayura starring Dr. Rajkumar received the response of the kind, they got when the films were released for the first time years ago.

Taking cue from the successful re-run of Dr Rajkumar films, Eshwari Combines released Vishnuvardhan’s Naagarahaavu.

This film was released in 7.1 technology version. This had a special significance as it was the debut film of Vishnuvardhan, directed by Puttanna Kanagal. In fact, this was not the first film of Vishnuvardhan, which was re-released. Earlier to Naagarahaavu, Sahasa Simha (the 1982 super hit film), Onde Guri and Khaidi were released. Now Eshwari Combines is planning to re-release Kula Gaurava, Naa Ninna Mareyalare of Rajkumar, and Prema Loka of Ravichandran.

Besides these films, small-budget films including Tarka directed by Sunil Kumar Desai and Anubhava directed by Kashinath, which were re-released have seen houseful runs in recent days.

Interestingly, Om directed by Upendra, starring Shivarajkumar also got an overwhelming response from the audience, despite being shown several times in entertainment channels.

The popularity of a film and the emotional connect with fans that stretches beyond a generation are the main reasons for its re-release. It’s is a positive development, this digitisation of a classic in superior quality. It helps restore a film as a treasure for future generations to enjoy.

Ask filmmakers the reason why audiences are attracted to the re-release of classics ? “There is a significant dip in the films that could be watched by a family nowadays. Which is why producers and distributors are re-releasing old classics, with a touch a new technology. Producers are enthused by the response got by the re-release of Dr. Raj films in recent days. There is a line up of old classics, which are waiting for their re-release,” said filmmaker Chandru.

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