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"Gandhada Gudi" still popular

A box office-hit, which fetched around Rs. 35 lakh at the gate 33 years ago, “Gandhada Gudi” had made its appearance on the silver screen in Mysore last month.

The Kannada film is unique, perhaps was the first of its type, for it focused on protection of forests and preservation of wild animals, even before the Wildlife Preservation Act came into force and forests like Bandipur and Nagarahole were declared protected forests or wildlife sanctuaries, barring shooting of animals, by either gun or camera.

These two forests and the B.R.Hills Sanctuary, all close to Mysore, were once famous for tigers and tuskers. They were protected by the Mysore Maharajas as reserved forests with great care. They have lost their old world charm today.

Their areas have shrunk and the animal life is depleted. Tigers are rarely seen. Elephants have lost their age-old migratory paths between Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. New reservoirs, lodges and resorts, expanding agricultural area, rehabilitation processes and increased poaching and looting of valuable forest wealth have now led to wildlife raids on bordering villages and farms.

Produced in 1974 by Mysore-born film producer-director M.P.Shankar, the Rs. 15 lakh Kannada film was a big hit. It had seen 25-week run and gala centenary day celebrations.

Great stars of the Kannada tinsel world like Rajkumar, Kalpana, Balakrishna, Narasimharaju and Sampath, who are no more, and Vishnu Vardhan, the evergreen hero of the Kannada films, are acting in it. It’s song “Gandhada Gudiyidu…” remains popular even today.

None of its 35 mm prints was available and Shankar procured one from the Film Archives. He gave it a new life incorporating the latest technology at a cost of Rs. 5 lakh. After resounding and turning it into a cinemascope movie, he had launched the film in Mysore’s Olympia Theatre.

Apart from the veterans of the film world of the 70s, around a dozen elephants including the majestic Rajendra and Hansaraja tuskers are featured in the all-age group film, with no obscene touch whatever.

“If you want to see the original beauty of these forests, you should not miss this rare film. Apart from these forests losing their pristine look, they have become inaccessible to the camera today. No such film would be possible in the future. It also promotes protection of forests and wildlife,” says Shankar.

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