The G Gubbi Veeranna Rangamandira
While the film industry complains that people are not coming to see their offering anymore, there's a place in the heart of Gandhinagar that continues to conduct its entertaining business without much complaints. They do have a lot of complaints, but then, they are not making a drama out of it.
In Karnataka. there are about 10-12 modestly sized drama companies and in Benglur, the preferred stage is the one at G Gubbi Veeranna Ranga Mandira. And these days, catering to a select band of fans, is the Sri K B R Drama Company from Davangere. The play: Kivuda Maadida Kithapathi.
Actors: Prabhakar (top) and Subramanya Shastri of Sri KBR Drama Company, Davangere.
Prabhakar and Subramanya Shastri are actors who work for the Sri KBR Drama Company. Both are originally from Malavalli in Mandya District and their home: wherever they are performing.
These days, the Government-owned Ranga Mandira is their home. The drama company is their family. Together they will be performing a series of dramas, twice a day on weekdays and thrice on Sundays, until December before they move on to the next location. And it's most likely to be somewhere in the north, in the old Bombay-Karnataka region where they draw larger crowds than in Benglur. Especially at Jathres (Mela).
In fact, while we were sitting as the actors were telling me that Putanna Kanagal's classic movie Ranganayaki is probably the best example to know about the life of people like them, a trader from Haveri who was on a business trip noticed the actors and came to tell the actors that he has seen the play they are performing, 5 times!
That isn't bad. In fact, the actors feel that the drama companies are doing a pretty good job at surviving in cut-throat world the entertainment. They feel that the the audience is fed up with the dose of violence and bad stories that the Kannada film industry dishes out and are coming to watch plays instead - even in Gandhinagar.
But then, they would also like to act in movies, and their plays made into movies. That's where you get to be really famous. However, most drama companies do not have the money to make movies. But there a few plays that are still being made into movies. Here's an advertisement for a play, made into a movie, inside the Ranga Mandira starring Anant Nag (who began his acting career doing amateur Marathi and Kannada plays in Mumbai).
To catch Prabhakar and Subramanya Shastri in action, watch Kivuda's Kithapathi at 2.45pm and 6.15pm on weekdays and 11.45am, 2.45pm and 6.15pm on Sundays.