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From Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana to Puksatte Lifeu - here are some of 2021’s best Kannada films

Just under 100 Kannada films released this year, and most of them came to theatres

  • Prathibha Joy

  • OTTplay

Last Updated: 02.16 PM, Dec 27, 2021

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2021 had a few good Kannada film releases

It’s not been a particularly exciting year for Kannada films. The industry will be just shy of 100 releases, only three-four of which had direct-to-OTT outings. Filmmakers claim that major platforms show little to no interest in buying Kannada films and when they do it does not make financial sense, so they wait it out for an opportunity to present the film in theatres and then sell it to an OTT outlet based on the audience response to it.

The year was also severely hampered by the devastating second wave of the pandemic. Just when theatres had begun to operate at full capacity, everything was shut down again. Theatres reopened again in July, but it was only in early October that 100% occupancy kicked in again. Since then, there’s been a barrage of big and small films in theatres pretty much every week. And here’s our pick of some of the better ones, a select few of which are available to stream on OTT, in case you missed them in theatres.

Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana

Not available on OTT yet

Director-actor Raj B Shetty’s second directorial, Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana, is our top pick for Kannada movie of the year. A simple, but violent tale from Mangaladevi, about two friends in the underworld, which was inspired by gods Shiva and Vishnu, GGVV first gathered eyeballs when Raj dropped the trailer. The visuals and the haunting theme music caught everyone’s fancy, which continued when the film eventually released. Raj is yet to bring his film to OTT for those who missed it in theatres.

Rathnan Prapancha

Available to stream on Prime Video

Rohit Padaki’s film about a man’s quest of self-discovery was one of the most well-appreciated films when it released directly on Prime Video. Led by Dhananjaya as the title character Rathnakara, the film was about his journey to find out his true idendity, for which he embarks on a journey from Karnataka to Kashmir and back. The film’s stellar supporting cast, including Umashree, Pramod, Shruthi, Reba Monica John, etc., ensured there was never a dull moment.

Puksatte Lifeu

Available to stream on Zee5

One of late actor Sanchari Vijay’s last releases before his tragic passing in an accident this year, Puksatte Lifeu, a dark comedy by director Arvind Kuplikar, is the story of an honest keymaker who in a twist of fate becomes an accomplice for a bunch of crooked cops-turned-thieves.


Available to stream on Zee5

A comedy of errors by director-actor Rishab Shetty, this was one of the earliest films to be made when lockdown relaxations were announced after the first wave of the pandemic. Rishab took his entire cast and crew to a remote village and created his own bio-bubble to make the film about a barber, his ex-girlfriend and the goon she is now married to.


Available to stream on Prime Video

Challenging Star Darshan’s Roberrt was one of the most-anticipated films of the year. Released in theatres a month before the devastating second wave of the pandemic, Roberrt was a massive box-office hit, but received mixed reviews, with some critics calling it Darshan’s best in a while, while others dubbed it formulaic and director Tharun Sudhir’s attempt at giving Darshan a film like Rajinikanth’s Baasha.


Available to stream on Prime Video

Late Power Star Puneeth Rajkumar’s film was the first to be hit by the renewed 50% occupancy clause in theatres, a day after its release. But after discussions with the government, the film was given a week’s breather before restrictions kicked in. First week collections make or break negotiations with OTT platforms, so this was crucial for the Santhosh Ananddram directorial, which introduced Sayyeshaa as Puneeth’s heroine.

Ninna Sanihake

Available to stream on Prime Video

Actor Suraj Gowda’s directorial debut, this one was one of the bigger films to have waited for 100% occupancy in theatres to plan its release. The debut vehicle of Dhanya Ramkumar, the daughter of late Kannada matinee idol Rajkumar, Ninna Sanihake is a light-hearted modern-day romance, the experience of which was greatly elevated by music man Raghu Dixit’s score.


Not available on OTT yet

Actor Duniya Vijay’s directorial debut was about a subject he seems to be most comfortable with – the underworld. Although the story was not new, the beauty of Salaga was Vijay’s execution, never ever making the narrative about him, and giving everyone on the ensemble cast, enough screen time to make for a complete package. In fact, Dhananjaya, who plays a hot-headed cop chasing down Vijay’s Salaga, gets probably just as much screen time as the hero himself.

Kotigobba 3

Available to stream on Prime Video

The sequel to Kotigobba 2, this one was based on an idea by lead actor Kiccha Sudeep, which was then fleshed out into a full-fledged script. The story takes place a few years after the events of the original, with ACP Kishore (P Ravi Shankar) still in jail for the alleged murder of Shiva (Sudeep). While Kotigobba 2 was about one man pretending to be two different people, this instalment actually introduces audiences to Shiva, who has his own agenda.

Badava Rascal

Not available on OTT yet

Dhananjaya ended the year on a professional high with the release of his debut venture as producer, Badava Rascal. Although the story follows certain routine tropes, the treatment of the film, which is all about friendship has struck a chord with audiences.

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