Director Hemanth Rao’s Sapta Sagaradaache Ello - Side A was released last month and hearts were broken. Rakshit Shetty and Rukmini Vasanth’s katthe and putti first built up our hope about love, life, and everything in between, and then gut-punched it straight across the seven seas.
Kannada cinema loves its romances, but its tragic romances, even more. Many actors have made it big in their career with that one heartbreaking romance in their filmography. There is just something about a couple who is destined to be together but yet aren't able to that makes us want to watch and cry and then repeat the process all over again.
While we wait to see if there is any hope in Sapta Sagaradaache Ello -Side B, releasing on October 27, here are ten tragic romances in Kannada you can stream in the meantime.
Streaming on: Disney+Hotstar
Who knew that the man who made us laugh with his antics on TV would make us bawl our eyes out over his own failed love story? Ganesh became the romantic hero of a generation with his unconventional looks and perfect timing, and the film that made him a star was Yograj Bhat’s Mungaru Male. The landmark film was filled with newcomers, who gambled with their luck and went ahead to make a tragedy, after positioning it as a family-friendly film.
Tragedy strikes early in this romance, as Pooja Gandhi’s Nandini reveals that she is about to be married in a few days when she meets Ganesh’s Preetham, who is already in love with her. However, what brings hope is that by its last act, she actually warms up to him. Mano Murthy’s incredible soundtrack makes us celebrate along with them. Then comes the barrage of gut-punches that culminates in the death of love and its symbols.
Tragedy strikes Ganesh yet again in Nagashekar’s Aramane as he is a photographer who tries to bring a family together to fulfil the dying wish of the family patriarch. We have the usual suspects: Ganesh as the hero, Anant Nag as the supportive mentor, Preetham Gubbi writing the screenplay (he wrote Mungaru Male as well), and Yograj Bhat and Jayanth Kaikini penning the lyrics.
Aramane is an easy tragedy, a plot that is set up for love failure. But, boy, does it deliver. I remember the biggest selling point of Aramane was that it had a sad ending like Mungaru Male. How does one bank their marketing on a spoiler ending and still deliver? Ganesh’s performance in the last stretch, where he becomes the photographer at the wedding of his beau, is heart-wrenching. Gurukiran’s painful ballad ‘Kolle Nannanne’, which features in the climax has become an anthem for love-lorn boys.
It seemed like Nagasekar practised tragedy with Aramane because he followed it up with the next pop culture-defining tragedy, Sanju Weds Geetha. The title itself invokes tragedy, with the names of the leads picked from the doomed lovers in Shankar Nag’s classic Geetha. Sanju Weds Geetha starred Srinagar Kitty and Ramya in titular roles and explored not just their romance, but their vulnerabilities as well. Geetha has a traumatic past which catches up to them when things get serious between the couple. And then, it is just one tragedy after another.
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
A character named Nandini who isn't involved in a tragic love story? Impossible! Bandhana is where the trend started. Based on the novel by Usha Navaratnaram, the film saw the forbidden love story between Dr Vishnuvardhan’s Harish, a surgeon, and his protege Nandini. While Harish falls deeply in love with Nandini, she sees him as a mentor and does not reciprocate his feelings. She marries one of Harish’s friends, which causes further pain to Harish, who starts developing a heart condition.
The charming first half coupled with the tragic second half made it one of the best romances in Kannada cinema history. Dr Vishnuvardhan delivered one of his finest performances in Bandhana, winning him the Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actor. The film was also awarded the Best Kannada Feature Film Award at the National Film Awards that year.
Puttanna Kanagal’s classic film Manasa Sarovara was reportedly inspired by George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion. The play follows the story of a phonetics professor Higgins who takes it upon himself to train a flower girl to talk like a noble. Trust the legendary director to put a tragic spin on the relatively light-hearted storyline. Manasa Sarovara stars Srinath and Padma Vasanthi, with the former playing the role of Anand.
Anand is a middle-aged and divorced psychiatrist who comes across Vasanthi, a person who develops a mental illness after facing a traumatic past. Anand takes her into his care and treats her for her illness, and in the process falls in love with her. However, she ends up falling for his nephew, prompting Anand to lose his sanity as well.
Probably the Saptha Sagardache Ello of the 80s, this musical romance sees Shankar Nag and Akshatha Rao play a couple who go through a tumultuous experience during the course of their relationship. While Manu’s imprisonment acts as an obstacle for the couple in SSE, it is Geetha’s terminal illness that becomes the villain in Geetha.
The film is known for its amazing soundtrack by Ilaiyaraaja, with the classic ‘Santhoshakke’ still remembered as a crowd-pleaser. Shankar Nag reportedly wrote the story along with his wife Arundhati Nag.
Streaming on: Disney+Hotstar
Suri’s films might be known for their gangster elements, bizarre rowdy names, or amazing Rangayana Raghu performances. But a sense of tragedy always lingers in his stories. Even Jackie, his most commercial film, had a dark and sad plot. However, his saddest has to be his surprisingly successful Duniya.
The film was filled with newcomers. Vijay was making his feature film debut as the lead actor, and so was Rashmi, and Suri was directing his first feature. The film dealt with the death of innocence in the big bad city, represented by a blossoming love story built on shared trauma. The film put all its creators on the map and Suri has only grown as a filmmaker since then.
Actor Ramesh Aravind was known as a tragic hero in his heyday, mostly because of his penchant for playing roles that would ultimately sacrifice his love for someone else. It was only natural that he would write the urban romance Amrithadhare. Directed by Nagathalli Chandrashekar, the film starred Dhyan and Ramya and explored an urban marriage. The film is filled with soft moments between the couple and they face very real problems that arise in every relationship. A clash of dreams leads them to have many marital conflicts that end in heartbreak.
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
The film probably led many of the audiences to seek therapy due to the string of gut punches that happened in the second half. Dia starts off as a cute college romance, showing the female perspective of a crush (bare minimum, yes, but this was revolutionary at the time. In 2020. It took that long). Directed by KS Ashoka, the film dealt with the titular character Dia’s romantic life, her traumatic past, and her eventual brush with trauma in the future. Pruthvi Ambar and Deekshith Shetty star as male leads, while B Ajaneesh Loknath gives an amazing score. A small warning, the ending will definitely haunt you.
Streaming on: Zee5
Ramesh Aravind and Nagathalli Chandrashekar strike again with what on the surface seems like a tourism advertisement for the USA. However, the film is much more: a romance that again explores different kinds of relationships in the new era. In fact, Sapta Sagaradaache Ello borrows its title from the film’s legendary song ‘Yava Mohana Murali’, based on a poem written by the author Gopalkrishna Adiga.
America! America!! follows the story of Surya, Shashank, and Bhoomi, three childhood friends in a village. Shashank goes to the US for his studies while Surya decides to stay back to open a business in his hometown. Surya, played by Ramesh Aravind, is in love with Bhoomi, who ends up getting married to Shashank. What follows is a conflict of egos when a successful Surya goes to the US and meets the couple.