As I grew up, movies played quite a part. It was not only a means of entertainment. I would also look for characters in movies to define my character. I was particularly impressed with those characters that portrayed honesty and loyalty. And Indian cinema had a plethora of these characters. The honest cop trying to fight the system or the honest poor man trying to provide for his family. If I say I owe some of my traits to these characters, it isn’t an overstatement. Some of these that come to mind today are roles played by Rajkumar in Kannada movies and those played by a host of Hindi stars such as Duleep kumar, Sanjeev Kumar, Amitabh Bacchan, et al. If you are a Kannadiga, you can’t escape the influence of Rajkumar movies. His lead role in Bangarada Manushya, Shankar Guru’s old man, the estate owner in Premada Kanike, Mayura’s lead character or the peasant in Sampathige Saval. His movies are too numerous to name. Likewise Hindi movies played a strong part, however hindi movie characters were more afraid of getting stereotyped and hence we saw more variety from the same actor. In the south and in the very past, actors wouldn’t risk taking on roles such as those considered ‘new medium’ for the sake of box office success. Certain types of movies – or formulaic – were almost guaranteed success. An honest man’s role was one such role. There are a lot of scenes that are imprinted in my mind.
– Film Bhagyavantaru. Rajkumar comes to know that his wife has leukemia and tries to hide the fact from her. The song ‘Ninna nanna manavu’ was masterfully played by him
– Film Mayura – Mayura comes to know that he is the prince and vows to avenge his parents death. A scene similar to ‘Sri Krishnadevaraya’ where the reigning king vows to take revenge against the enemies
– Film Bangarada Manushya. Rajkumar’s character after sacrificing all that he can for his family and relatives finds out that they suspect him of an illicit relationship whereas in reality he was trying to help his brother’s illicit family.
– Film Premada Kanike. In court, Prabhakar (the lead character) details the reason for his revenge on a friend who had raped his love and destroyed her life.
– Film Shankar Guru. The father of twins meets his wife after twenty-five years on the run and he is unable to control his emotions
– Film Sipayi Ramu. Ramu comes back from assignment only to see his family in distress; his daughter’s family destroyed by the village owner’s son
Some of Hindi movies too had left an impression on me. In Sholay, Sanjeev kumar, who had lost both his arms to the dacoits, gets to his revenge and torments Amjad khan (the dacoit leader). Mashaal was another one where Duleep kumar (his come back movie) gets his for his family’s ruination. These were like reading the story of ‘Count of Monte Cristo’ again and again, but each time it took the veil of a different character.