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From Sandalwood to Kollywood – Friday Spl. article by Naveen


Kannada top star Yash gave raise to many an eyebrow recently, when he was in Chennai to promote his upcoming flick ‘KGF’, which is releasing in Tamil as well, along with its Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam versions.
For, he stunned the media by speaking fluently in Tamil. “I prefer speaking in Tamil because wherever an artiste goes, he should first respect the culture and values of the people in that region. In the past, got a lot of offers to act in Tamil but I didn’t act in those films because personally felt that an actor should understand the culture and tradition of the people before acting in a film catered to them.”

He added: “Films are references and it will stay in the history. For example, if we want to know the lifestyle of people in the 1980s and 70s, would watch films released at that time. So I was cautious to not commit any mistake by acting in a Tamil film without knowing Tamil culture.”
Interestingly, Karnataka, which is fondly called as Sandalwood, has gifted Kollywood many actors in the past. This week, Mykollywood takes a loot at some of them.

SAROJA DEVI
Affectionately called as ‘Kannadthu Paingili’, Saroja Devi is one of the most successful female leads in the history of Tamil cinema. She acted in around 200 films in over six decades. 

At the age of 17, Saroja Devi got her big break with her debut movie, the Kannada film ‘Mahakavi Kalidasa’ (1955). In Telugu cinema, she made her debut with ‘Panduranga Mahatyam’ (1959), and starred in a number of successful films until the late 1970s. 
The Tamil film ‘Nadodi Mannan’ (1958) made her one of the top actresses in Tamil cinema. She also starred in Hindi films until the mid-1960s, starting with ‘Paigham’ (1959).

She played the lead heroine in 161 consecutive films in 29 years between 1955 and 1984. Saroja Devi received the Padma Sri, the fourth-highest civilian honour, in 1969 and Padma Bhushan, third highest civilian award, in 1992 from the Government of India, honorary doctorate from Bangalore University and Kalaimamani award from Tamil Nadu.

RAJINIKANTH
Everyone knows that superstar Rajinikanth was working as conductor in a bus in Bengaluru, before he joined cinema. Rajinikanth was born on 12 December 1950, in a Maratha family in Bangalore, Mysore State (present day Karnataka).

His brother enrolled him at the Ramakrishna Math, a Hindu monastery (math) set up by Ramakrishna Mission. In the math, he was taught Vedas, tradition and history, which eventually instilled a sense of spirituality in him. In addition to spiritual lessons, he also began acting in plays at the math. His aspiration towards theatre grew at the math and was once given an opportunity to enact the role of Ekalavya’s friend from the Hindu epic Mahabharata. 

His performance in the play received praise from the audience and Kannada poet D R Bendre in particular. After becoming conductor, he began to take part in stage plays after Kannada playwright Topi Muniappa offered him a chance to act in one of his mythological plays. 
During the time, he came across an advertisement issued by the newly formed Madras Film Institute which offered acting courses.Though his family was not fully supportive of his decision to join the institute, his friend and co-worker Raj Bahadur motivated him to join the institute and financially supported him during this phase. During his stay at the institute, he was performing in a stage play and got noticed by Tamil film director K. Balachander. And the rest, as they say, is history.

MURALI
Murali was born on 19 May 1964 to Siddalingaiah and Dhanalakshmi in Chennai AND belongs to Madivala lingayats family. His father was a film director and writer in the Kannada film industry. 
He lived and studied up to his 5th Standard in Chennai, and from 6th Standard to 10th Standard he studied in Bangalore. When he was 14 years old, he joined as an assistant director to work under his father. For some time, he worked as an editing assistant.
Murali started his acting career in 1982 with the Kannada film ‘Geluvina Hejje’, directed by director Eranki Sharma. ‘Prema Parva’, ‘Bili Gulabi’, ‘Ajeya’, ‘Prema Gange’, ‘Thayikotta Thali’, ‘Sambhavami Yuge Yuge’, ‘Ajay-Vijay’ are the Kannada films he did before entering into Tamil film industry. ‘Poovilangu’ was his first Tamil film.

ARJUN 
Referred to by the media and his fans as ‘Action King’, Arjun has worked predominantly in Kannada language, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada films, while also performing in a few Malayalam and Hindi films.
As of 2017, Arjun had acted in more than 150 movies. Until his 150th film, he has mostly performed in lead roles and is one of few South Indian actors to attract fan following from multiple states of India. He has directed 11 films and also produced and distributed a number of films.
He was born on 15 August 1964, in Madhugiri, in the erstwhile Mysore State. His father was Shakthi Prasad, a Kannada film actor, and his mother was Lakshmi, an art teacher. He had one elder brother Kishore Sarja, who directed Kannada films.
He is married to Niveditha Arjun a former actress who has appeared in the 1986 Kannada film ‘Ratha Sapthami’ under the stage name of Asha Rani. Kannada actor Rajesh is his father-in-law. His nephews Chiranjeevi Sarja and Dhruva Sarja both act in Kannada movies.

PRAKASH RAJ
Prakash Raj was born in Bengaluru, Karnataka (then known as Mysore State), on 26 March 1965 in a lower-middle-class family.
His brother is Prasad Rai, who is also an actor. He completed schooling at St Joseph’s Boys’ High School, Bangalore and joined St. Joseph’s College of Commerce, Bangalore. Prakash Rai changed his surname to Raj based on prominent Tamil film director K Balachander’s advice; he is still called Prakash Rai in his home state, Karnataka.

Prakash Raj married actress Lalitha Kumari in 1994. They had two daughters, Meghana and Pooja, and a son, Sidhu. The couple divorced in 2009. Prakash Raj is an atheist.
He married choreographer Pony Verma on 24 August 2010. They have a son, VedhantH.

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