Harihar Gundurao Dattatreya, popularly known as Dattanna, is an Indian actor who has appeared in more than 204 films and several plays. Alongside his career as an actor, he served in the Indian Air Force as a commissioned officer for over 20 years and also occupied academic positions with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). He is best known for his work in Kannada cinema, in which he appears in mostly supporting roles. In a film career of almost three decades, he has won two National Film Award – Special Jury Awards, one National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor and two Karnataka State Film Awards. He is known for his performances in Munnudi (2000), Bettada Jeeva (2011) and Bharath Stores (2012).
Early life and education
Dattatreya was born in 1942 in Chitradurga, in the Kingdom of Mysore of British India (now in Karnataka) to Harihar Gundurao and Venkamma. He had six siblings; brothers H. G. Venkatesh, was a physicist at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur; H. G. Suryanarayana Rao, is a professor of English in University of Mysore; and H. G. Somasekhara Rao, a writer and an occasional actor. Dattatreya completed his education in Chitradurga. He secured the first rank in his matriculation exams in 1958, and second rank on completion of his pre-university course in 1959. He graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering (UVCE), Bangalore, in 1964. In 1978, he obtained a master's degree in electrical communication engineering from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore.
In Indian Air Force
After graduating in 1964, Dattatreya joined the Indian Air Force, as a Commissioned Officer in its Technical Branch. He subsequently trained at Air Force Technical College, Bangalore and while studying his post graduation in IISc, Bangalore, he received a certificate on completion of a project on "Management and Advance Technologies", in 1984. He served the IAF for over 20 years, before retiring as a Wing Commander. Upon retirement, he served in the Management Academy of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the Staff Training College, as its Deputy General Manager and Principal.
Dattatreya began acting in plays in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and while studying engineering in college at UVCE. His first appearance in a Kannada film came in T. S. Nagabharana's Aasphota (1988), which earned him the Karnataka State Film Award for Best Supporting Actor. Since then, he went on to appear in several films that have won multiple awards such as Kraurya (1996) and Munnudi (2000). His performance in the latter film earned him the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actor.
Dattatreya's performances in Mouni (2003) won him a National Film Award – Special Jury Award at the 51st National Film Awards. In the 2012 released film Bharath Stores, his role as Govinda Shetty, a Grocery shop owner hit hard when the Union Government increases foreign direct investment in the retail sector, won widespread critical acclaim. He won his second National Special Jury Award at the 60th National Film Awards. He was also awarded the Best Actor at the International Film Festival in Fiji in 2013.