Humour sells in Kannada films

Humour sells. Has always been so. And with very few takers for villainy these days, what with real life having more than enough of it, humorous movies are in great demand. This is being reflected in Sandalwood remunerations. The ones who get paid the highest are not the kannada stars with fancy titles as prefixes, but kannada comedy actors who are paid by the day. While ‘Lovely Star’ Prem, ‘Action Star’ Murali and ‘Royal Star’ Ajai Rao command Rs 20 lakh plus per film, it is Rangayana Raghu, Sadhu Kokila, Komal, Sharan and other comedy actors who are really raking in the moolah. These ‘A’ list comedy actors are being paid Rs 1 lakh plus per day, and unlike the lead actors appear in dozens of films a year.

Industry insiders say that their yearly earnings could match top kannada stars like Vishnuvardhan, Puneeth Rajkumar, Upendra and Sudeep who are content with acting in a couple of films a year. Only Shiva Rajkumar, Darshan and a few others with a continuous stream of films would beat comedians in the numbers game.

‘Mukhyamantri’ Chandru, Umashree and Doddanna are also in the Rs 1 lakh plus per day bracket, but political commitments and health reasons do not permit them to take up projects by the dozen like the others. Bullet Prakash and director Omprakash Rao are the other comedy actors close to this category.


“Earlier also, there were comedians who had star value. Directors used to book Balanna (Balakrishna) and Narasimha Raju before they took the call sheets of lead actors. They were considered more important than the lead actors for those films,” said senior film critic A S Murthy. “Today, what is fuelling the demand for comedy and character artistes is the profusion of youngsters. Fearing that newcomers cannot carry the film on their shoulders all alone, a strong supporting cast is selected. This is the reason for their demand,” he added.


Komal started his career as a lead actor. But just a couple of films later, he was relegated to being a comedy actor which he was not happy with. He even demanded that he be called just an actor and not a ‘comedy’ actor. Life has come full circle for him after ‘Mr Garagasa.’

He played the lead in the hit film last year and is now concentrating on playing lead roles. He is now directing his own film ‘Chamkaisi Chindi Udayisi.’ Sadhu Kokila started as a music director and has also directed a few films, but he is most in demand as a comedy actor.


Luck has not favoured everyone though. Actors like Jai Jagadish, Sundar Raj and Ramkrishna have been in the industry for more than three decades. They have played lead roles themselves. But they do not command the same kind of remuneration like some of the comedy kings. “I do not blame those who are earning good remuneration, but being ignored after being around for decades feels like an insult. Some directors like S Narayan understand our abilities and give us good roles and pay decent remuneration, but I am ashamed at how many others treat us,” said senior actor Sundar Raj. Jai Jagadish also echoes a similar sentiment. Being a senior producer himself, he has his hands full, but feels indignant about being offered roles in other films with nominal remuneration.
comedy actors who command Rs 1 lakh plus per day include Sadhu Kokila, Rangayana Raghu, Komal, Sharan, Doddanna, ‘Mukhyamantri’ Chandru, Umashree, Bullet Prakash, Omprakash Rao.

Non-comedy actors who command Rs 1 lakh plus per day include Anant Nag, Avinash and Kishore.

The below Rs 1 lakh category is dominated by comedy actors like Sanket Kashi,Karibasavaiah, Michael Madhu, ‘Kurigalu’ Prataph, Rekha Das and others. But most often they are not in the position to demand a specific remuneration.