BALANNA’S CAPTIVITY IN DESTINY - HIS VISION’S BIRTH AND DEATH

Scaling to the heights of success is not a bed of roses and one has to work hard to achieve it.  Balanna’s short of hearing disability didn’t play as an havoc in his path to success but his hard work and pursuation did pave the way to realize his dream and vision.  He was acclaimed as one of the most soughted comedian and versatile actor in Kannada cinema.  His dreams, aspirations and yearnings were evolved and focused entirely on his vision to contribute with gratitude to the Kannada film industry.  Success in about pursuing a vision with moral purpose and with a spirit of challenge. 
 

Those days the entire film fraternity shuttled between Karnataka and Chennai (Tamil Nadu) for filming process.  The entire film fraternity flocked to Chennai film Studios for film production activities, be it, shooting purpose, song music recordings, editing, dubbing etc.  All the activities consumed excess time, expenditures, travelling, lodging, transportations, so on and so forth.  It seems all had to wait deliberately for their turns for occupations of the studio floors.  It had also been said that many a times they needed to wait up to midnight for their film participation as Chennai was the only southern city engaged in film activities.  Since most of the southern films production activities were overloaded there, every trip to Chennai involved heafty expenditure.  All these were due to the lack of a single film studio in Karnataka.  The Kannada film fraternity did endure hardships in the process of completion of a film.

Having experienced the struggles of his film fraternity friends, Balanna was immersed in the thoughts of the severity of those hassles of his film fraternity and he eventually dared and explored the possibilities of establishing a film studio in Karnataka.

In the period of 1960’s, he was at the peak of his successful career as an actor, but he realised that one has to act to end the ordeals of his film fraternity.  He envisaged a dream vision to establish a film studio. He contemplated his harboured vision to establish a film studio in Bangalore and articulated the same amongst his close film associates and his wife,though some hailed his vision some opposed it, one being his childhood friend Mr.Iyer who devastatingly dissuaded him from nurturing his dream.

Initially, his wife too was reluctant to accord with his pious intention, apprehending that his dream venture was perilous, and also fearedthat his dream was that of making a mountain out of a mole hill.  Though Balanna had conviction and confidence to take on the new brassy task, yet, taking into consideration his remuneration and also since he had no massive resources at his disposal for the uphill task, she presumed the venture would be like building a castle in the air, but she also realized that her husband’s vision was a noble one,as his genuine intention was not to create wealth or heap fortunes, nor grow richer but they were purely to curb the hassles and struggles of his film fraternity friends.  This motivated his wife to lend her support to him and to stand by his determination through storm and wind and as an encouragement gesture to begin with she offered her jewelleries as her token contribution for his dream project.  Balanna was enthused by her act of support which prompted him to strengthen his determination and thus put forth his strenuous efforts in the birth of his vision venture .  He further garnered his mental strength byself-motivating his thoughts as he believed that fate bows to them who defy it, hence his enlightened spirit, hard-work, passion and determination did choose to conquer defeats itself.  But surprisingly, few of his trusted colleagues did deliberately dissuade him from taking up the uphill task, who later on went on to say that Balanna ruined his life by establishing his film studio and chose to get drowned by executing his dream vision at the cost of his peace.

Subsequently, Balanna chartered his dream plans with high enthusiasm and vigour.  He persistently began to organize to envisage his dream to establish a film city studio in Bangalore with permanent building set ups of a Bangalow, Hospital, a beautiful garden, police station, prison, a court, and few more with basic amenities for the comfort of film folks lodging purpose.  His well-wishers of the film fraternity expressed their solidarity and support to him.

In 1965, to begin with he had to acquire land for the purpose, so he appealed to the then Karnataka Government for land allotment.  His constant approaches did bear fruit and he was initially allotted 10 acres and later on additional 10 more acres of land at Rs.300/- per acre (Rupees Three hundred per acre).  The inaugural ceremony was held on 5th of September 1965 and his film studio “ABHIMAAN” was born “Abhimaan” means beholding pride and self-respect of Kannada film fraternity. The ceremony was attended by chief honourable guests – Hon’ble Minister for the Dept. of Forest, Mr.B.Rachaiah, BMP Mayor, K.M.Naganna and prominent personalities Mr.Shankare Gowda, Mr.A.N. Krishna Rayaru and Mr.J.R.Subba Rao and of course Balanna’s film fraternity friends participated and pledged their support to him which indeed over whelmed him.
 

As the land was a forest land uninhabited, initially the couple struggled and strived hard to convert the allotted forest land to an habitable one.In fact they braved all odds and hastened up the work. 

Balanna’s journey as a proprietor began and it was an uphill task with an involvement of substantial fund, hence, apart from his savings being set aside for the purpose, he determined to mobilize more funds by issuing pronotes or promisory notes for public raised funds.

Apart from participating in his busy film schedules, he along with his assistants toured to various towns and districts extensively,sacrificed food and rest bravedodd weathers of scorching heat or heavy downpour to raise funds.  Thus, he mobilized funds and issued promissory notes of Rupee hundred each.  In later stages as the demand arose for repayment after the commencement of his studio business activities, he went on to reimburse the contributed funds along with a simple interest.

Balanna plunged exultantly into the construction job with intense enthusiasm and vigour.  He personally monitored the work and his wife too joined him.  He rejoiced every moment when bricks were laid and as the building was raised, his hopes and faith too rose with mounted confidence.  He never looked weary even while shuttling between his shooting locations and his dream project. His wife balanced her family life and supported him through thick and thin.  A single building for film shoots - ‘floor’ was completed with basic amenities.

In 1968, Balanna went exuberant and triumphant when the first Kannada film “Maargha Darshi”, directed by Mr.M.R.Vittal one of his adorable director proposed to erect a set in his studio “Abhimaan”.There seemed no bounds to Balanna’s excitement and joy, he expressed his deep gratitude to the producer and director and the lead actor Mr.(Dr.) Rajkumar who consented for the prosperity of Balanna’s studio. In 1969, two more feathers were added to his success crown when two more films, “Punar Janma” and “Chaduranga” were committed at his studio.  Those were the celebration days for Balanna who experienced positive vibrant vibes for the development of his dream baby “Abhimaan”.

In the meantime, the claimants of the pro-note holders grew anxious to get back their money and Balanna was only too happy to acknowledge their claims.

Apart from his studio, he managed to invest his hard earned money on his only other site situated on Kengeri Mysore Road by purchasing at on instalment basis through one of his trusted and reliable family friend Mr Ibrahim of kengeri who was always ready to be beside Balanna at times of need, Balanna considered him as his family’s trusted close friend.  He hoped that if he managed to raise a building at the Kengeri Site it may aid him in the future in the management of finance, during financial crisis.  But it didn’t happen, even the building there remained incomplete until his death, crashing away his base hopes too.

 
On the other context, Balanna incurred heavy expenditure while hiring equipments for film shooting purposes.  It was then he appealed to the then Government for a loan of 10 lakhs to purchase required equipments, then the Hon’ble Minister Mr.Ram Krishna Hegde who had immense regards for him sanctioned 5 lakhs.  He was capable to purchase equipments other than camera to facilitate the producers.  Though Balanna did his best to manage financial disbursements, at times he was stranded for short of income, at those period his repayment schedule to the Government turned a setback for which he struggled to make the ends meet.For those irregularities in repayments, Balanna’s studio was sealed off by attachment warrant.  Again on the basis of his pleadings, the Government did relax the laid conditions which turned to be favourable to him.  The said loan, along with interest was officially waived off after his death.

Balanna was an actor who had grown professionally with his film fraternity friends, directors and producers during his phenomenal journey and was well aware of theirhardships and hence he disliked and hesitated to hike his fee for a fat pay packet just to make adjustments for his studio expenditures, rather, he opted to handle the financial burden by himself without troubling them.

Among the noted prominent Kannada film producers, directors and actors whose supportive goodwill for his studio progression and development which deserves to be mentioned are as follows:

Mr.M.R.Vittal, Mr.N.Veeraswamy, his most adorable Director, who constantly stood by him and utilized the facility of his studio for all his films, after his demise his actor and producer son (dream boy of Kannada Cinema) Mr.Ravichandran followed his father’s footstep to promote Balanna’s studio,Balanna had expressed his deep rooted gratitude to them and his family too are ever grateful to them forever.Balanna reminisced with emotional gratitude the support lent by other prominent fraternity friends.

The series of other non-Kannada prominent film producers who promoted Balanna’s studio include Chennai-Prasad Studio proprietor Mr.L.V.Prasad’s home production film – “Mane Belagida Sose”, Tamil producer cum director Mr.Shreedhar’s film – “Nenagaagi Naanu”, and Hindi prominent film actor “Mr.Sheik Mukthar’s “Guru Aur Chela”.

Over the period of few years, two more film studios came into existence - “Kanteerava” and “Chamundeshwari”.  As destiny conquers and rules a person’s life, incidents turn out as it ought to be.  As bad phase befell,Balanna’s, “Abhimaan” was gradually belittled.  The progression in development got hindered.  Effortlessly he tried to break the shackles of destiny, but alas.  The activities in his studio began to decline and ultimately impeded.  The path treaded by Balanna were never rosy, he faced insurmountable tragedies and miseries.  He confronted all obstacles to keep his baby “Abhimaan” breathing and battled his life unto death to keep it alive and as always determined never to surrender to failures.  The impact was too painful but he kept himself sustained.  All his hard earned money were utilized to keep his “Abhimaan” afloat.  He was intellectually strong, one could always view his room light burning even at the pre-dawn hours, that was when he sat all alone to pen appeals to some fraternity collegues to be courteous towards him and utilize his studio partially atleast, he also pleaded for their support and implored all possibilities for some encouragement.  He had offered the lowest rental too.  His appeals were thwarted on one ground or other which made him cringe in pain.  He was driven to the edge and the cruelty of destiny over shadowed his efforts. Later as his every step of efforts were washed off into the drains and his pleadings unheeded ultimately his studio was pushed to a slough. Balanna alleged that his destiny was to be blamed for his debacle.  He treaded emotionally during turbulent times with serenity.  Though every day he would rise up hoping his beleaguered phase would pass off and though his faith for redressal seemed sinking, yet, he kept his spirit riding on a wave of hope, and it was also demeaning and insulting to his contributions as his prayers were thwarted and unheeded. What was astonishing was that, his self-confidence never went diluted nor it left him pondering over failures.  He was able to conceal the pain he endured due to his experiences with life during those old golden periods,which he had imbibed with a depth that shone throughout his subsequent life.  His battle with defeats continued which ultimately led to an impasse.  His calm demeanour spoke for himself, as silence too is a language which tells many a tale.  To speak truth, in losses one’s self esteem takes a beating, but he remained unbattered,only his participation in film activities rejuvenated his sour feelings.

Why was his studio “Abhimaan” not patronized?Over the years it remained in a state of dereliction. The so-called attributed echoed reasons were, distance problem, lack of amenities and facilities, mosquito menace and some more, indeed they were sad comments.  But when honesty speaks and reality checks in, it seemed,some were helpless onlookers who couldn’t do much to support him but could only empathise with him. 

Some anonymous personalities view – “Balanna suffered his ordeals silently, behind his smiling face lied his hidden grief, a lone warrior who battled unto his death for the survival of his Studio “Abhimaan”.  Though his persistent research for ways to rekindle the dying opportunities for his vision to give a re-birth to it,did deliberately failed, obviously the fire of destruction had engulfed all his efforts.  There had been consistent hindering in the progress of his studio but, whatever happened, happened as it ought to be non can be blamed or held responsible as he was destined to undergo such hardships, the fact being, his destiny was pre-designed and non can alter it, even the Almighty too.It is believed that in human philosophy everybody’s life is programmed even before one takes birth,but as far as Balanna was concerned, faith left no room for doubt in him until his last breath, as his unrelenting efforts stood like mountain unmoved.  To him “Abhimaan” was his “Abode”.  Though one did experience his sense of humour in his interactions, but, within himself he was waging a war with his destiny.  The highlight of his personawas that,though at times he presumed he was a nonentity but still, he would surprise anybody by emoting well with them without sharing his painful grievances which he had buried them in his burdened heart.

A MESSAGE:- One has to abandon fear, as only a panicked person may get drowned due to fear, same applies to a person who shall lose the battle in life over the thought of fear.  Never lose faith in life, as the fate bows to then who defies it and one has to certainly sail in life with faith and confidence.  Balanna was of the opinion that non should favour and support anybody for financial assistance always but should offer opportunity instead.Though Balanna lost the battle in steering his studio developmental task for over three decades, yet, the courage he demonstrated  to sustain it was initself an absolute triumph.