From ‘Enna Thangadi’ to ‘Gamjaal’ Tulu film industry completes 50 golden years

10:34 AM Feb 19, 2021 | Neeta Shetty |

Tulu movie buffs are excited about Roopesh’s movie ‘Gamjaal’ which will be the first Tulu movie to be screened in theatres after the lockdown. However, what is more, iconic about February 19 is that it marks 50 years of the Tulu film industry.


Prior to this Yakshagana, dramas etc were being conducted in Tulu but most of the releases back then were only Kannada movies.

On February 19, 1971 ‘Enna Thangadi’ became the first-ever Tulu movie to be screened at Mangaluru’s iconic ‘Jyothi Talkies.’

In the late 1960s, the state government had announced a subsidy of Rs 50,000 for regional films, post which Enna Thangadi producer & director TS Rajan is said to have decided to take a shot at helming a Tulu movie. To his credit, he had produced Kannada films like ‘5 Beralu’ earlier.


Notably ‘Dareda Budedi’ movie despite having wrapped up it’s shooting before Enna Thangadi was released around a month later, making it the second Tulu film to be released.

The 1972 movie ‘Bisatti Babu’ became the first film to receive the state government award as the best Tulu film.

Speaking to Udayavani, veteran artist VG Pal informed that the idea of making films for Tulu-speaking audience was a matter of pride for its makers at that time.

“Despite the advent of colour films in the 70s, the initial few Tulu movies were black & white, this was majorly because most of the film processing, developing related activities back then was done in Chennai thus making it a costly affair,” he added.

‘Kariyani Kattandi Kandani,’ the first Tulu colour film was released in 1985.

The Tulu film industry, also referred to as the Coastalwood film industry has a much bigger audience now, including the overseas audience as compared to the initial days when it was limited to regions of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi.

In the first 10 years of its history, only around 17 Tulu films were released. This gradually increased to 45 movies in the next 30 odd years.

The much-needed boost for the Tulu film industry was the box office success of Vijay Kumar Kodialbail’s Oriyardori Asal movie. This comedy movie became a trendsetter and we witnessed several such genre movies being released in the last 10 years time.

Several famed theatre artistes – Devdas Kapikad, Naveen D Padil, Aravind Bolar, Bhojraj Vamanjoor have now turned big cinestars of the Coastalwood industry and a new wave of emerging actors Arjun Kapikad, Pruthvi Ambaar, Roopesh Shetty hold much promise to take the industry to further heights.

Actor Roopesh’s Gamjaal movie is the 115th movie to get released and it has to be seen if it will break the record of his previous movie Girgit, which happens to be the highest-grossing Tulu movie to date.

Few Insights of Tulu Film Industry:

  • Of the 114 movies released to date, five Tulu movies – Bangar Patler, Koti Chennaya, Gaggara, Madipu, Paddayi have bagged the National Awards.
  • Bissati Babu was the first Tulu film to bag a state award.
  • Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan had lent his voice for the title card of the 1973 movie “Kasdaye Kandane” featuring Jayamala.
  • The first movie that saw a housefull run in theatres for nearly 175 days was Oriyardori Asal. Later Chaali Polilu surpassed this record with nearly 511-day run in the theatres.
  • Kannada movie ‘September 8’ was shot in 24 hours entirely in Mangaluru, a record in the world cinema.
  • Sudda, the first-ever Tulu language film shot in the digital format won the award for the best Indian film at the eighth Asian Film Festival “Ocean – Cinefan”

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