A HIGHLY anticipated bilingual film introducing former prime minister H D Deve Gowda’s grandson and former Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Kumar, 27, opened to a warm reception from Kannada audiences during the Dasara holiday week. And the family has been open about its delight.
Jaguar features Nikhil as a masked crusader who walks the high moral ground on issues like corruption. Produced at a cost of over Rs 15 crore by Kumaraswamy, the state JD(S) president, it was filmed in exotic locales including in Bulgaria and features many popular actors from Telugu cinema. Since its release on October 6 in Kannada across some 200 screens in Karnataka and in and Telugu across some 800 screens in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, the film has got good reviews in the local media, with some suggesting the arrival of a potential new star.
The film has been running to full houses in areas where the party and the family have a strong base — Mandya, Hassan, Chikkaballapur and Bengaluru Rural. Nikhil Kumar fan clubs have sprouted over the weekend. The All Karnataka Nikhil Kumaraswamy Fans Association took out a “Jaguar rally” in Bengaluru on October 9 from a local temple to a theatre screening the film.
Deve Gowda watched around 20 minutes of the film with his grandson before leaving for another engagement. Outside the theatre, he told reporters Nikhil had done very well. “He has a bright future in the film world,” he said.
Kumaraswamy, who has been involved with the industry for over two decades as a theatre owner and producer, issued advertisements in the local press hailing the response.
“Kannada films should not be lesser than Bollywood and Hollywood films on any count. The world of cinema must also look up and take notice of Kannada cinema. It is with this ideal in mind that we have created this film titled Jaguar. There has been a lot of speculation on the budget. The reality of the finances of the film is known only to those from whom I have borrowed money,” Kumaraswamy said in an advertisement three days after the release.
A few years ago, Nikhil had appeared inclined to join politics when he joined a few local protests and political events. Later, he announced he wanted to enter films and then underwent rigorous training.
Kumaraswamy has often denied speculation that his son is aiming at entering politics by using the popularity cinema would bring him. He has reiterated that now, but stated that 25 per cent of the profits of the film would be set aside as a Nikhil Kumaraswamy Fund to cater to the needs of the poor in Karnataka. “The funds will be used for the benefit of orphans, the poor and farmers. This is Nikhil’s wish as well,” he said in an advertisement. “Despite the demands of politics on my time, I have produced Jaguar and placed Nikhil in your midst. You have welcomed him with a open heart. I want to thank you all on behalf of my family and seek your support in establishing him in the film world.”
The film has been directed by Telugu filmmaker Mahadev. The script is by Telugu writer Vijayendra Prasad, who also wrote the scripts for Bahubali and Bajrangi Bhaijaan.