A Rs 100 million memorial to Rajkumar

To be located in the 20-acre sprawling Kanteerava studio, the memorial will have a permanent exhibition hall.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2006 16:25 IST

The Karnataka government has decided to set up a memorial to Kannada thespian Rajkumar in the city at a cost of Rs 100 million, official sources said here on Tuesday.

To be located in the 20-acre sprawling Kanteerava studio where the icon's body was laid to rest last week, the memorial will have a permanent exhibition to showcase the actor's contribution to the Kannada film industry over the last five decades.

It will also have a stock of movies, dialogue, scripts, songs and other memorabilia associated with the actor who passed away last Wednesday.

"We plan to build the memorial in the next six months. A committee is being set up with representatives from the Kannada film industry, Rajkumar's family members and officials to draw up a blueprint for the memorial," an urban development department official said.

Keeping in view Rajkumar's long association with the studio, set up by the state government way back in 1966, the actor's family will be requested to gift his awards, trophies and souvenirs to the studio for public display in the memorial building.

"Though the Kannada film industry no longer uses the studio's outdated facilities, it continues to be a landmark for the historical role it played over the decades for the growth and development of Kannada cinema," the official said.

Launched as a joint stock company with the state government holding 93 percent of the share capital and the remaining seven percent by individual shareholders from the film industry, mostly producers and directors, the studio could not keep pace with modernisation in terms of equipment and facilities due to lack of fresh investments.

When the state public sector reforms commission recommended shutting down of the "sick" studio as even its maintenance was proving to be a drag on the exchequer, the then Congress government decided to rope in private partners for reviving it. The proposal, however, never took off till date.

"Since the basic infrastructure is still intact, there is scope to revive it by upgrading the settings for shooting and post-production facilities. There is sufficient space to build a modern auditorium, an animation studio and a complex for film industry offices," the official pointed out.

With the present-day producers and directors opting to make use of private studios and outdoor locales for shooting original or even re-mixes, the government opened up the Kanteerava studio to producers of television serials and budget films on rental basis.

According to Rajkumar Fans' Association president Sa.Ra. Govind, the superstar used to frequent the studio in his heydays and shot a number of films there.

"In fact, over a decade ago, the thespian had laid the foundation stone for a two-storey block christened Tungabhadra in the studio premises. But the building never took off due to the government's apathy," Govind lamented.

With the studio turning into a pilgrim spot as Rajkumar's last resting place and thousands of fans making a beeline to pay their homage, the Kannada film industry hopes the state government would revive its fortunes by modernising and expanding its facilities through public-private partnership as a fitting tribute to the ever-green hero.

First Published: Apr 18, 2006 16:25 IST