A fresh take on a folk hero
K.N. VENKATASUBBA RAO
Kumara Rama promises to be one of Kannada's finest period films
The newly found MSR Chitralaya, a wing of the reputed M.S. Ramaiah Educational Institutions, is all set to launch the long awaited historical film Kumara Rama. The "legend" and "history" of Kumara Rama, a central figure in the cultural history of the Kummata Durga fiefdom (1290-1320), deals with the cult person who fought against the mighty invaders and the coterie of "ambitious and insidious insiders" prior to the establishment of the Vijayanagar Empire.
According to available inscriptions and literature, Kumara Rama was a valiant son of King Kampli Raya of Kummata Durga or Hosamale Durga. He was an ideal prince and an embodiment of virtues. He stood by his father in waging relentless wars against the Kakatiyas of Warangal, his neighbour Hoysala Ballala and the invader Mohammad-Bin-Tughlaq and died a heroic death at the hands of "enemies" and "traitors" at a very young age.
In the many ventures in the genre of historical films R. Nagendra Rao's Vijayanagarada Veera Putra, G.K. Venkatesh's Immadi Pulikeshi, B.R. Pantulu's Kittur Chennmma and Sri Krishnadevaraya and Vijay's Mayura that have made efforts to recreate the past with an emphasis on Kannada consciousness and pageantry, Kumara Rama too falls in line. The making of Kumara Rama has been in the pipeline for over 30 years in the over 65 years history of Kannada cinema. Despite ventures by many veteran filmmakers with plans of having Rajkumar in the lead role, the project failed to take off due to the limitations of the Kannada film market.
Veteran film makers have felt that making historical films like Kumara Rama is not just expensive and lavish but also requires an erudite director, scriptwriter, elaborate set design, authentic period costumes, and action on a massive scale which involves a large cast. . Many major historical films in the world including the Hollywood productions have suffered huge losses on various counts.
Talking about his ambitious project, the Director of M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Management, M.R. Pattabhiram, says: "Our project is based on the Kumara Rama Sangathya (Kumara Rama's escapades) of the ancient poet Nanjunda Kavi, and the late Dr. Varadaraja Rao's doctoral thesis (1960) Kumararamana Sangathyagalu." He says how there have been significant references by early English historians to Kumara Rama. It has drawn requisite support from a novel authored by Su. Rudramurthy Shastry, who, incidentally is also writing the dialogues for the film.
The noted director Bhargava has accepted the responsibility of directing the epic film, while Shivarajkumar has agreed to play the lead role. "I am interested in the history of Kumara Rama and not in the myths and legends he is now surrounded by. The budget is an open one and may cross Rs. seven crore. However, quality of the film will not be compromised for commercial reasons. Kumara Rama will be a landmark film in Kannada cinema. History is not just a chronological order of incidents. It is of a life lived. Kumara Rama also lived once."
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