Girish Kasaravalli (Kannada: ಗಿರೀಶ್ ಕಾಸರವಳ್ಳಿ) is a legendary movie director of international repute in Kannada. He is a well known name among the directors of parallel cinema in India. Girish Kasaravalli has to his distinction four Golden Lotus Awards for the eleven films he has directed so far. He is a perfectionist and works on his script and screenplay for months together. A gold medalist from the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, Girish Kasaravalli started his career in films with Ghatashraddha. This film launched him as a promising and potent director. In his thirty years in the field, Girish Kasaravalli has directed eleven films and a tele serial.
Girish Kasaravalli was born in Kesalur, a village in the Tirthahalli taluk in Shimoga district in 1950 to Ganesh Rao and Lakshmi Devi. He had his primary education in Kesalur and middle school education in Kammaradi. Hailing from a family of book lovers, he was initiated to reading good books from a young age by his father. His father was also a patron of Yakshagana, a folk system of dance, native to Karnataka. All this formed a basis for a life rich with creative aspirations. He was also attracted to the touring talkies which visited his village once in a while to screen popular Kannada films. This was his first exposure to the world of Cinema. Another relative who supported his love for creative arts was his maternal uncle K.V.Subbanna, a Magsaysay award winner who founded Neenasam, a critically acclaimed and popular drama company.
After completing his high school and college education in Shimoga, he enrolled for the B.Pharma course in the MGM College in Udupi. The college was a commonplace for many cultural activities and kept Girish Kasaravalli's creative interests alive. After completing his degree, he went to Hyderabad for training. But due to his pre occupations in Cinema and art, he found it difficult to manage his profession and interest together. He decided to quit the career in Pharmacy and join the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune.
FTII and Later Life
Girish Kasaravalli had the rare opportunity of watching world cinema while at the FTII. The world of Kurosawa, Ray, Ozu, Fellini and Antonioni inspired him and his conviction in neo realist cinema deepened. In an interview many years later, he recollected how he was inspired by these filmmakers, especially Ozu. While in his final year, he was chosen to be the Assistant Director for Sri.B. V. Karanth for the film Chomana Dudi. He passed out of the FTII with a gold medal to his credit. His student film titled 'Avasesh' won the President's Silver Lotus award for the best student film of the year.
His first film as an independent director after his studies was Ghatashraddha in 1977. This film won him instant fame and launched him as a major director. Ghatashraddha won the Golden lotus. It also won a few international awards. During the centenary celebrations of Cinema, Ghatashraddha was the only Indian film to be chosen by the National Archive of Paris. This film was followed by many more master pieces. For a short while, he also served as the principal of a film institute. He won his second Golden Lotus for Tabarana Kathe in 1987. Considered as one of the best edited films in India, the film deals with the futile efforts of a retired government servant to earn his pension. In 1997, he came up with another masterpiece, Thaayi Saheba which won him his third Golden Lotus award.
Thaayi Saheba is considered to be the most mature work of the director. Its a world class film dealing with the transition in the Indian socitey from the pre independence to the post independence periods. The narrative structure was unique and it had a powerful way of depicting a social situation. He repeated his success with Dweepa in 2002 starring late actress Soundarya. This film won his fourth Golden Lotus award. Dweepa was different from his earlier films. The film used music extensively and was a visually stunning film. Apart from these four films winning Golden Lotus awards, Girish Kasaravalli directed Akramana in 1979, Mooru darigalu in 1981, Bannada Vesha in 1988, Mane in 1990, Kraurya in 1996, Hasina in 2004 and Naayi Neralu in 2006. For a detailed Filmography follow the links in the Filmography section. His last film Naayi Neralu dealt with a very intense and bizarre concept of reincarnation. Based on the novel with the same name by S.L. Bhyrappa, Girish Kasaravalli has given a different interpretation of the subject.
The International Film Festival of Rotterdam held a retrospective of Girish Kasaravalli's films in 2003.