Film-maker Suman Kittur’s 2016 hit Kiragoorina Gayyaligalu had come amidst an incipient revival of Kannada cinema and the film about the young wives of a village stood out for two reasons—the story, a nugget from Kannada literature told engagingly, and its cast with no superstars. Of the roughly 200 films produced annually in Sandalwood, only a handful is actress-led, a recent example being the Sruthi Hariharan-starrer Nathicharami. Or, going even further back, Shraddha Srinath in the thriller U-Turn.
“We need to have these kind of films coming back-to-back,” says Kittur. Looking back, she says it was indeed a risk picking a story like Kiragoorina Gayyaligalu to make a film. “But we had gone ahead reasoning that if it clicked, it might embolden others too,” she says. But that hasn’t really happened. The lament is familiar, looping back into the economics of showbiz. And, while Bollywood actresses have created a market for themselves, it hasn’t happened on that scale in the south yet.