After yemme (the buffalo) which annavru, the Kannada the spian, late Dr Rajkumar rode making his debut as a playback singer, this three-wheeler, which is an integral part of personal transportation in cities especially in parts of South India, has been a ‘star’ vehicle achieving a special status in Kannada films.
Karate king and multi-talented actor and director Shankar Nag’s film Auto Raja released in the early 80s literally immortalised the vehicle on the silver screen. As a result, a series of films has been an auto focus venture, where the protagonist has played the role of an auto rickshaw driver, riding it for a adventure and even at times on a romantic jolly ride with the pretty heroines as passenger, seated comfortably. In Kanaka, the latest from director R Chandru, the star vehicle does more than just movearound. It even flies high in a mechanical acrobatic stunt sequence with Duniya Vijay in the front seat starring in the lead. Bengaluru Chronicle does an auto check with Kanaka, and also dwells a bit into its glorious past.
“This is a special one which talks about Kannada language and its existence inspired through the real life of an auto rickshaw driver, who is the biggest fan of Dr Rajkumar. I myself had an auto rickshaw, working as a driver for three to four months when I initially started my life in Bengaluru. I learnt a lot and my experiences with auto drivers inspired me to do this film,” says director R Chandru.
Further, the director shares that when it comes to regional language, rights and especially fighting for Kannada, it is none other auto rickshaw drivers who come united for its cause. “When I started this film, I approached Duniya Vijay making it clear to him that he will play an auto driver but the character’s soul will be that of a fan of Annavru — Dr Rajkumar.”
In Kanaka, the director has filmed a one of its kind stunt sequence while four auto rickshaw are engaged in reel mid air action, along with at least 200 auto rickshaws used for the entire shot.
Almost every other star hero has played the role of an auto driver from Vishnuvardhan, to Ambareesh, Shankar Nag, Shivarajkumar, Ravichandran, Upendra, Ganesh, Darshan, and scores of them which earned them immense success. When Challenging Star Darshan was going through a rough patch, it was Sarathi wherein he plays an auto driver that gave him a new lease of life and since then there has been no looking back for him.
“One of the major audience of Kannada films are auto rickshaw drivers who not just ferry passengers but are also the protectors of regional language and culture,” says Adarsha, who himself was a former driver, explaining why it is the most loved vehicle on Kannada screen.
Before driving away, Chandru says that auto drivers are no less than a soldier within boundaries, protecting and supporting all regional cause and especially Kannada.