Rajendra Singh Babu’s call yesterday to make Mysore the venue for a Film City makes perfect sense. There are, according to Babu, 270 locations and locales of potential in and around our City.
Plus, there are rivers, forests, lakes, hills, palaces, etc, in an almost magical mix of the urban and the rural, the royal and the rustic. And there is the proximity to Bangalore, all of which makes the thought of a Film City so heady.
But much of all this has been around for centuries. We had one of the biggest studios in South India, Premier Studios, decades ago. And if the oldtimers can shed some light on this, there was one other studio before that, too.
So, who killed the studios?
One of Babu’ closest aides, a man who we shall call B but who is now an independent film maker himself, told me a simple story some months ago of how the decline began.
And it is a stunning story of how egos run (and ruin) the film industry.
Apparently, there was—there is—this huge Kannada star who once drove up in his car to a set on Premier Studio where his movie was being shot.
Basavarajaiah, the man who owned Premier, reportedly objected to the car being brought on to the set.
That’s it. The fuse had been lit.
The star threw a maha tantrum and ensured that all Kannada movie work was shifted out of Mysore to Madras. After which death for Mysore’s studios was not too far away.
As a chapter in Phillip Knightley’s memoirs Hack’s Progress is titled, interesting if true.