Dwarakish: Unapologetically Pragmatic


The Sudeep-starrer “Vishnuvardhana” enjoyed a monumental opening, drawing journalists who attended the first-day-first-show to “Green House” for lunch. Producer Dwarakish arrived a little later, and with a sense of pride, grasped my arm, declaring, “The entire crowd there (at the theatre) is because of you.” I felt a pang of embarrassment; after all, I had initially reported on Bharati Vishnuvardhan’s objection to Dwarakish’s use of her late husband’s name for the film. What began as my personal ambition to break a “scoop” unexpectedly snowballed into a controversy that, in a not-so-subtle manner, benefited the film. In the eyes of Dwarakish, I inadvertently became his accomplice.

Long before my career in journalism, Dwarakish was revered as one of the most prominent actors in Karnataka. His productions consistently made headlines, either for their remarkable innovation or for the controversies they sparked. Thus, we grew up immersed in tales of his friendships, conflicts, such as the one with Vishnuvardhan, and his introduction of “Vinod Raj.” From the black-and-white era to contemporary times, his diminutive stature commanded the screen, captivating audiences of all ages.


From childhood favorites like “Cowboy Kulla,” which I remember watching when it was screened on 82nd cross, Rajajinagar, during a public Ganesha festival, to television reruns of classics such as “Adrushtavanta,” “Prachanda Kulla,” “Guru Sishyaru,” and “Kulla Agent 000,” Dwarakish held a special place in the hearts of Kannada cinema enthusiasts. Even in supporting roles, his presence was magnetic. Though criticized for predominantly remaking Tamil and Telugu films into Kannada, Dwarakish candidly acknowledged this trend later in, advocating for a halt to the practice, yet pragmatically continuing it himself.

While many of his productions in the 1970s and 80s were indeed remakes, Dwarakish infused them with qualitative narratives and extravagant production values. Several remain indelible classics, such as “Guru Sishyaru.” Remove his fifty or so films produced between 1966 and 2004, and Sandalwood’s history would bear a significant void. Whether expanding the scope of Kannada cinema to Singapore (Singapuradalli Raja Kulla) or Indian cinema to Africa (Africadalli Sheela), he lived life on a grand scale as a consummate showman. A prime example of his creativity can be found in the logo of his production house, “Dwarakish Chitra,” inspired by MGM’s iconic theme but unmistakably Kannadiga in essence.

Even beyond his contributions as a producer, Dwarakish will endure as a luminous star in the Sandalwood firmament, owing to his memorable performances as an actor. In the golden era of Kannada cinema during the 1970s and 80s, Dwarakish blazed a trail that would significantly shape the industry’s future in profound ways.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here