In a pleasant surprise, last year's Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana made the rest of the country sit up and notice Kannada cinema, the often ignored step-sibling of the other three south Indian industries. This year, Kannada seeks to up the ante. With a combination of small films, star-studded extravaganzas and big sequels, here's what you can look forward to watching in Kannada this year.
Director: Prashanth Neel
It's been three years since the first chapter of this period drama was released and KGF Chapter 2 has been one of the most anticipated Kannada films since. In addition to the original star cast of Yash and Srinidhi Shetty, the film will also feature Prakash Raj, Sanjay Dutt and Raveena Tandon in prominent roles. Bhuvan Gowda handles cinematography and Ravi Basrur composes the music and background score.
The film is expected to release in the summer of 2022, but given the circumstances, we can only wait and watch.
Director: Kiranraj K
777 Charlie is a comedy adventure film about the life of Dharma (Rakshit Shetty) and a dog named Charlie. Produced by Rakshit Shetty and GS Gupta under the banner Paramvah Studios, the film also stars Bobby Simha, Danish Sait, Raj B Shetty and Sangeeta Sringeri.
Director: Chethan Kumar
James would be late actor Puneeth Rajkumar's last commercial film to release — his documentary film Gandadha Gudi is also expected this year. In James, Appu pairs up with Priya Anand for the second time after Rajakumara (2017). The film is shot by Swamy J. Gowda, edited by Deepu S. Kumar and music by Charan Raj. The makers have indicated that they might have it ready for release on March 17, 2022, which is Puneeth Rajkumar's birth anniversary.
Director: R. Chandru
Upendra's period gangster saga Kabza could be the Kannada film industry's attempt at a pan-Indian film. For starters, it is expected to be released in seven languages — Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, Marathi and Bengali. Add to that, the film also features Kiccha Sudeep in a key role, in addition to Prakash Raj and Jayaprakash Reddy.
Director: Anup Bhandari
Kiccha Sudeep has been working on several highly-anticipated films across languages, but Vikrant Rona is especially interesting. The fantasy adventure film is pitched as a unique experience in Kannada. The film features Nirup Bhandari, Neetha Ashok and Jacqueline Fernandez, among others. After several delays, Vikrant Rona is expected to hit the screens on February 24.
Director: V Harikrishna
Three years after the successful Yajamana hit the screens, composer-turned-director Harikrishna joins hands again with Darshan — and the team — for Kranti. The film will be produced by B. Suresh and Shylaja Nag. Not much is clear yet about the other cast and crew, but we'll soon know.
Director: AP Arjun
Fans of Dhruva Sarja will remember his debut film Addhuri directed by AP Arjun. After nine years, Dhruva is now reuniting with Arjun for Martin. The film is written by Arun Balaji and Swamiji, cinematography by Satya Hegde, music by Mani Sharma and produced by Uday K Mehta.
Director: Puneeth Rudranag
Yuva Raj Kumar, of the Rajkumar family, makes his debut with the historical film Yuva Ranadheera Kanteerava, directed by Puneeth Rudranag, an assistant director on KGF. Collaborating with him are musician Ravi Barsur and cinematographer Sanketh Mys.
Director: Rakshit Shetty
Rakshit Shetty returns to directorial duties with Richard Anthony, a spin-off of his previous endeavour, the 2014 hit film Ulidavaru Kandanthe. In Richard Anthony that he also writes and directs, Rakshit will return as the eponymous character also known as Richie.
Rishab Shetty will be back as Detective Diwakar in the sequel of the 2019 hit film Bell Bottom. The film will also star Hari Priya, Tanya Hope, Yogaraj Bhat and Pramod Shetty in major roles. Set in the 1980s, it will revolve around a gold treasure hunt. It is written by TK Dayanand. Composer Ajaneesh Loknath and cinematographer Arvind Kashyap also return for the sequel.
Director: Darling Krishna
Love Mocktail (2020) marked the directorial debut of actor Darling Krishna. He is making a sequel to that film, expected to be released around valentine's day. Darling Krishna will reprise his role, while Rachel David will be playing the female lead.
Director: Akash Srivatsa
Shivaji Surathkal 2 is the sequel of the much-loved detective film of the same name. Launched as late as in November 2021, Shivaji Surathkal 2 brings back the winning combination of the lead actor Ramesh Aravind and director Akash Srivatsa. Nasser recently joined the cast of the film, which also features Radhika Narayan, Raghu Ramanakoppa, Vidya Murthy, Vinayak Joshi and Suman Bhat. The film's music is by Nakul Abhayankar and cinematography by MG Guruprasad.