Gurkha Ganesh blazes new trail

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By ANIL BUDUR LULLA in Bangalore
  • Published 17.06.07

Bangalore, June 17: A breath of fresh air for Kannada filmdom, all the way from Nepal.

Ganesh, of Nepalese descent, is making waves across the state with his second film — Mungaru Male (Monsoon Rain).

The film, which has had cash registers ringing non-stop for more than 24 weeks now, is also ringing in a change.

An industry that is almost militant in its opposition to non-Kannadiga actors or even films has a Nepali poised for stardom.

Ganesh, however, is hesitant to recognise his roots, preferring to say that he is from Adakamaranahalli, a village on the city’s outskirts.

“I have already clarified that I am not a Nepali. I am an Indian,” he says, though he admits that his forefathers are from Nepal and belong to the Gurkha clan. The family also has a Darjeeling connection, but he does not want to talk about it.

“His father was a watchman in Bangalore. Ganesh grew up here and is fluent in Kannada. He got his first break as an anchor of an interactive TV show,” an industry insider said. “There is no stopping this romantic hero now.”

With his chocolate-hero looks, Ganesh is set to climb higher on the popularity charts with his third film being released this week.

Gurkhas can serve in the Indian Army and are free to enter India without a passport and work without visas or permits.

For several decades, Gurkhas have been working as watchmen in Bangalore while their children attend government schools.

Apart from Ganesh, Mungaru Male has two other non-Kannadigas. North Indian Pooja Gandhi is playing the female lead, while Bollywood’s Sonu Nigam has sung the songs that are ruling the charts and mobile ringtones.

The film has been produced and directed by Yograj Bhat, who apparently paid Ganesh a pittance while raking in Rs 40 crore so far.

Last Friday, the film celebrated its silver jubilee — 175 days in a row.

Mungaru Male is running in 115 theatres all over Karnataka — 14 of them are in Bangalore alone — even six months after its release.

There have been several actors from Karnataka who have made it big in films in other south Indian languages.

The most successful among them is Rajnikanth. A bus conductor with the Bangalore Transport Service whose real name is Shivajirao Gaekwad, he sped to super stardom in Tamil cinema.

Prakash Raj and Arjun Sarja, too, have made it big in Tamil films.

But the Ganesh phenomenon is unheard of. The romantic hero has also taught a lesson or two to the Kannada film industry about the changing taste of viewers.