The Kannada film industry said cheers, thanks to Darshan's Saarathi and Punith Rajkumar starrers Hudugaru and Paramathma. If these biggies set the cash registers ringing, the success of medium budget films also took the success percentage up to 10 this year from the average of eight to nine in the past few years.
As many as 122 films were released and about 13 did well and the producers recovered their investment through advance sales.
Kannada film actor Darshan
Darshan starrer Saarathi, directed by his brother Dinakar Toogudeepa, was the blockbuster of the year. The theatrical collections of the film have already crossed Rs.15 crore mark and trade analysts are expecting it to reach Rs.20 crore by earning revenues from the sales of satellite and audio rights.
Made for Rs.7 crore, the film has broken records of previous Darshan films.
Saarathi also marks the debut of K.V. Sathya Prakash as a producer and he is happy to make to make a start with a profitable venture.
"Many industry veterans advised me not to release the film when the film's hero Darshan was in jail. I sought Darshan's advice and he said that the film can be released and I won't be put into a difficult spot. The audiences liked the film. I thank Darshan and his brother Dinakar Toogudeepa for delivering such a good product for me," he said.
Saarathi's success was followed by other big grosser like Puneet Rajkumar starrers - Hudugaru and Paramathma; Sudeep's Kempe Gowda and Only Vishnuvardhana; and Vijay's Johny Mera Naam.
The year has been particularly good for Sudeep whose two films received lot of appreciation. On the other and Vijay churned out three damp squibs - Kanteerava, Jarasandha and Veera Bahu. Even Ganesh delivered two flops in Maduve Mane and Eno Onthara.
However, Ganesh's recent release Shyloo is picking up and trade pundits expect the film to recover cost. But it is too early to declare the film as a hit.
Real Star Upendra, who had a rollicking time last year with blockbuster Super, had only one release this year - Srimati, which turned turtle at the ticket window.
Among the heroines it was Ramya's who stole the show with two super hits - Johny Mera Naam and Sanju Weds Geetha.
Radhika Pandit delivered one hit in Hudugaru, while debutant Deepa Sannidhi had two hits in Saarathi and Paramathma.
Raagini was appreciated for her performances in Kempe Gowda and Kalla Malla Sulla.
President of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce K.V. Chandrashekhar who also runs the Veeresha Cinemas here, says the audiences always encourage good films.
He added that Around Rs.250 crore might have been invested into the production of Kannada films and many of them managed to recover more than half of the production cost through satellite rights sales.
The year's biggest disappointment has been Shivaraj Kumar's 100th film Jogayya directed by Prem; Ganesh's directorial venture Kool; Vijay's Jarasandha; Upendra's Srimathi, in which he acted with his wife Priyanka and Bollywood actress Celina Jaitley; Chiranjeevi starrer Dandam Dashagunam; and Yogi's home production Yaksha.
According to K.C.N. Kumar, well-known producer and distributor, points out that the success percentage has been evenly shared between big budget-star-studded movies and medium budget films made with known artists of lesser charismatic appeal.
"Even some non star cast medium and low budget films like Bhadra, Sanju Weds Geetha, 90, Kirataka, and Lifeu Ishtene earned profits through revenues from theatrical collections and satellite rights," said Kumar.
At the same time Olave Mandara ran for 100 days in theatres, but couldn't recover its cost because of the huge production outlay.